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Agents Of Mercy - Dramarama CD (album) cover


Agents Of Mercy



3.92 | 204 ratings

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4 stars Like seemingly a lot of Flower Kings fans, I was not terribly thrilled by the first Agents of Mercy album, The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight. While there were some excellent songs, the album as a whole was rather simplified compared to much of what Roine had done in the past. Considering that it started out as an acoustic singer/songwriter type project, but then became a bit more prog oriented, goes some way to explaining it's somewhat mellow and stripped down approach.

With Dramarama however, we have a full fledged band, one that Roine seems to consider his main gig for the time being. What we have here is a more expanded and more "prog' type of album, with the individual members getting to shine a bit more, particularly Lalle Larsson. What I like about this album is that it is front loaded with more proggy material, then becomes a bit more folky and mellow towards the end. It should be noted that this is not the dense, complex prog of the Flower Kings or other FK related projects. It is more of an early 70's type of sound with prog elements. Much of the early Genesis sound that was so much in evidence on the previous album is gone, aside from Nad's voice which still has the kind of cross between Gabriel and Collins type of sound to it..........though at other times sounds remarkably like Roine did in the mid-90's. I am not suggesting this is derivative, like the Flower Kings so often get accused of being, merely that this band has decided to harness the analog warmth of 70's recordings while still keeping things crystal clear (and also using primarily 70's instruments and sounds). I guess there is some Beatlesesque melody and structure to many of the tunes, particularly the shorter more pop sounding ones like Cinnamon Tree and Peace United. But there is also an almost fusiony element as well, found particularly in the song Journey, that showcases Larsson's talents on the Moog (probably a sample, but maybe not). Some have criticized this as indulgent, but I think Larsson easily possesses the talent to make this a worthwhile listen. It's a very well constructed solo, showcasing his sense of melody as well as his considerable chops.

The Roine tunes tend toward the symphonic while the Nad tunes tend towards the more melodic and whimsical. Taken as a whole they make for a very diverse and rewarding album, as long as you accept that this is the mellow side of prog and is not meant as some sort of instrumental tour de force. While the last album struck me as almost prog muzak, this album strikes me as a very tasteful and emotive album with a mellow, laid back atmosphere that works to it's advantage very well.

One last point about this band that should be noted, is that, much like The Flower Kings, in the live setting they become a whole 'nother animal. If you really want to understand and appreciate what makes this such an interesting and worthwhile band, you absolutely must see them perform live. I saw them on the tours for both albums, and in both cases my appreciation for the albums increased greatly after seeing them.

All in all, an excellent album, fully deserving of all 4 stars I am awarding it. It misses the fifth because I really don't hear a masterpiece here, though I am starting to think that this band most definitely has one in them. I guess we'll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, I will be getting plenty of enjoyment out of this album and will be sure to catch them live when the next opportunity presents itself.

infandous | 4/5 |


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