Fireworks

Agents Of Mercy - 'Dramarama' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/54/7d/c7/934_AgentsOfMercyDramarama_1295990902.jpeg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 25, 2011    
 
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A splendid album that fans of the classic Prog will enjoy hugely.

This is the sophomore release from the offshoot of Sweden's The Flower Kings (TFK) featuring guitarist Roine Stolt and bassist Jonas Reingold from that band and joined by Nad Sylvan (Unifaun) on vocals, Lalle Larsson playing keyboards and Walle Wahlgren behind the drum kit, the latter replacing several guest drummers on the debut. The debut album had more than a touch of early Genesis and Fish era Marillion about it thanks to Sylvan's almost uncanny vocal similarity to Peter Gabriel and the phrasing of Fish, but with this release I get the impression that he's become more comfortable with his own style. That may have something to do with the fact that on this album he writes a number of the songs unlike the debut when they were all Stolt compositions. Naturally, these influences are still there in the mix but to me they are less pronounced this time around, and whilst there may be the inference that AOM might just be TFK by another name, there is a different style which is hard to articulate but in part I put down to AOM seemingly relying less on soloing. Of course TFK are still a key reference point as are Kaipa, Genesis, Yes and to a certain extent Transatlantic. There's also the occasional hint of The Beatles in some of the melodies.

Another similarity to TFK is their ability to produce melodies that immediately get in your head and stay there, like that on 'Last Few Grains of Hope' and 'Peace United', amongst others. The latter also has some terrific vocal harmonies and is driven along by a lovely Hammond Organ refrain which is supplemented by some nice runs from Stolt. As always Reingold plays some delicious bass, notably the opening to 'Gratitude' where his fretless work is sublime. Larsson's work throughout is a delight, not least because there is a lot of variety as he flits between piano, organ, synthesisers and Mellotron seamlessly.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'Meet Johnnie Walker' is a Sylvan composition that reminds me of the apparently disappeared A.C.T. (shame) in some of the phrasing whilst the electric piano harks at Supertramp. It's a jaunty number that bounces along nicely as does the following 'Cinnamon Tree' which was also written by Sylvan and carries a lovely acoustic guitar refrain and a great chorus. 'Roger the Tailor' is another strong tune and has very amusing lyrics that have a feel of Genesis circa 'The Battle of Epping Forest', whilst the following 'We Have Been Freed' has an epic quality beloved of the symphonic Prog genre. The twelve tracks are rounded out by the plaintive 'Time' with its initial piano and vocal arrangement that is built upon by the introduction of strings and then other instruments which makes it a very classy ending to a fine album.

It may not reach the exulted heights of Transatlantic's last offering, but let's be fair that will go down as one of the iconic releases of the genre; however it is still a splendid album that fans of the classic Prog will enjoy hugely.

Gary Marshall

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