Agents of Mercy – The Black Forest (2011)

Share this:

The Black Forest, perhaps unsurprisingly, features a walk through twilit, spooky woodlands. Thankfully, however, Swedish prog-rockers Agents of Mercy manage to sidestep the typical genre nemesis like, say, a dragon. Instead, this swirling, half-lit landscape is used as a metaphor for life’s mysteries.

That’s not the last time that Agents of Mercy’s third studio album surprises, as you’re taken on a journey that is by turns disturbing, scary — oh, and in another left turn, often very loud.

There’s more of a heavy-rock feel than previous Agents of Mercy efforts, in particular on “Black Sunday” and “Citadel,” which owe far more inspirationally to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and early King Crimson than to, say, Yes or Genesis. At the same time, the panoramic opening title track streaks impressively from this bucolic serenity over to a billowing symphonic grandeur.

“Freak Of Life” seems to pluck out the best of both impulses, and combines them into one of the album’s more compositionally assured, imagination-goosing moments. “A Quiet Little Town” boasts this zippy fusion-like interplay, “Between Sun And Moon” is a brawny anthem, while “Elegy” showcases the band at its most generous and emotional. Throughout, the brilliantly collaborative vocals give the project this theatrical propulsion — sounding, at times, like a much, much — MUCH — darker version of Queen.

Returning with the same lineup as last year’s Dramarama (vocalist-keyboardist Nad Sylvan, guitarist Roine Stolt, keyboardist Lalle Larsson, bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Walle Wahlgren), Agents of Mercy has deepened its sense of musical inter-connectivity, even while broadened its range.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B005QID2NI” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B004AOTICS” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B005CWJ76O” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B003Z2QIVK” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B002DPI9F8″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close