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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Agents of Mercy - The Black Forest - 2011

“The Black Forest is a concept album full of prog-bliss”

“The Black Forest” is the 3rd studio album of the Swedish quintet Agents of Mercy. It is a real concept album with a longer song format.

About the concept - From the Agents of Mercy website;
“The Black Forest” is a surreal journey - a mysteriously glowing metaphor for a trip thru dark, disturbing, scary times, a lifelong uncertain journey bookended by greed, lust, hunger for power & money, eternal life, mindcontrol, - and guess what? .....we're the prey !!

We navigate thru dark dreams of the immortal, dark waters, eerie topics hinting at death & dreams, forest ghosts, blood countess Elzbeth Bathory's life, a freak parade of monstruosity galore, a quiet tidy town with hidden horrors, the touring circus of freaks, dark realms of endless wars and lost kingdoms, the unwanted darktowns of our minds ...

Nad Sylvan - lead vocals, keyboards; Roine Stolt - guitars, vocals; Lalle Larsson - keyboards, vocals; Jonas Reingold - bass, bass pedals; Walle Wahlgren - drums, percussion.

The first thing you will notice when you put the CD in your player is the fat sound of the album. The basic tracks were recorded on 24-track analog tape. Agents of Mercy are really rocking on this album! The album opens with the dark title track “The Black Forest” (11:10), a progressive gem with a high symphonic character ... the style? ... fans of the Flower Kings will love this song. But Agent of Mercy goes a step further. It is a diverse track with great melodies and wonderful instrumental parts. I love the use of the church organ, the Mellotron and the fat synth solo's. What an opener ... this is a piece of symphonic bliss. The music is more rock orientated then on the previous studio albums. The next rocksong “A Quiet Little Town” has a funky/jazzy opening. The funky bass and the jazzy guitar are combined with the freaky and symphonic synth solo's. A melting pot of great progressive rock. “Black Sunday” is a rocking and heavy symphonic monster with screaming guitars, melodic vocal lines and freaky Moog solo's. In the second part the music becomes more melodic with great melodic guitar work. “Elegy” is the first rest-point after this overwhelming start. A ballad with nice piano, keyboard strings and melodic guitar parts. With Nad Sylvan the band has a great vocalist with a unique sound. The band has three people who are responsible for the vocals (Nad, Roine and Lalle) ... a luxury for a progressive band. In the end there is a soaring guitar solo. Then it is time for the song “Citadel” sung by Roine , another up-tempo song with great freaky synth solo's, screaming guitar solo's and fabulous drumming. With “Between Sun & Moon” the band is slowing down a little bit. It has a nice piano intro with beautiful Mellotron strings. But that's not for long ... as I earlier said; the band is rocking on this album. So also on this track nice guitar and keyboard work. The ending of the song has some Yes influences, especially in the guitar sound. “Freak of life” is the next prog monster with delicious synth and guitar solo's. A great diverse track with some beautiful vocal melodies. In the second part you can hear a nice multi-voice vocal refrain. The album closes with the instrumental track “Kindom of Heaven”. After a slow opening the song develops into a long soaring guitar solo on top of a bed of keyboard strings.

“The Black Forest”, which is dedicated to Roine's father Sune Stolt who passed away on January 14th 2011, is the best studio album of the band so far. It has a longer song format and the band is rocking. But at the same time you can describe the music as classic prog and symphonic. You can hear great instrumental parts on this album. And with Nad Sylvan the band has an exceptional singer blessed with an unique voice. Agents of Mercy made a great album. Highly recommended!

Douwe Fledderus - October 2011
rating - Foxtrot Music


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