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Agents Of Mercy

Symphonic Prog

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Agents Of Mercy The Fading Ghosts of Twilight album cover
3.18 | 129 ratings | 11 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Fading Ghosts of Twilight (7:29)
2. The Unwanted Brother (5:46)
3. Afternoon Skies (4:02)
4. Heroes & Beacons (9:07)
5. Jesus on the Barricades (4:03)
6. Waiting for the Sun (5:18)
7. A Different Sun (8:09)
8. Ready to Fly (4:53)
9. People Like Us (4:55)
10. A Soldiers Tale (11:49)
11. Bomb Inside Her Heart (4:25)
12. Mercy & Mercury (7:56)

Total Time 77:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Nad Sylvan / lead & harmony vocals, vocal arrangements
- Roine Stolt / acoustic, electric & lap steel guitars, bass, ukulele, keyboards, vocals, orchestration, producer & mixing

- Biggo Zelfries / grand piano, organ, Mellotron, Minimoog, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, violin
- Jonas Reingold / fretless bass (4,5)
- Pat Mastelotto / drums & electronic drums & percussion (2,4,7,12)
- Zoltan Cs÷rsz / drums (5,8-10)
- Jimmy Keegan / drums (1,3,6,11)

Releases information

Artwork: Silas Toball

CD Foxtrot Records ‎- FOX CD 029 (2009, Sweden)

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy AGENTS OF MERCY The Fading Ghosts of Twilight Music

AGENTS OF MERCY The Fading Ghosts of Twilight ratings distribution

(129 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AGENTS OF MERCY The Fading Ghosts of Twilight reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progrules
3 stars When I first noticed the existence of this album (homepage of The Flower Kings) I was very intrigued. So far all solo activities of TFK members as well as sideprojects like Karmakanic had proved to be satisfying to say the least so I knew I had to check out Agents of Mercy as well. After first few listenings I wasn't exited at all but maybe it was a grower, you never know.

We're quite a few spins further now but I still can't detect any real enthusiasm within myself I have to say. I'm afraid this is the first underwhelming project of my Swedish heroes. It's not that I want to be negative about it, on the contrary but it is what it is and I'm afraid there's no second layer in the music, something that I will have to discover by listening many more times.

Initially I wanted to do this album song by song but I decided not to. There's not much to say about them all. So I will review it more in general.

Biggest difference with The Flower Kings is the absence of Tomas Bodin and Hasse Froberg and they are replaced by Biggo Zelfries and Ned Sylvan. And here we have the substance of the problem I'm afraid. Maybe it's not really fair to compare them with TFK but on the other hand half of that band is in Agents of Mercy and they recommended this project on their own website so they had this coming to be fair. Anyway, Ned Sylvan is on itself not a bad vocalist (those who love Gabriel and his clones will love his voice) but all things considered my personal preference is clearly with Froberg and the comparison between Bodin and Zelfries is even more unbalanced. Zelfries is hardly detectable on this album and Bodin is almost the heart of The Flower Kings so there you go: in a nutshell the reason why I'm so unimpressed with AoM.

The songs aren't really to write home about either. There are twelve of them and roughly spoken the second half of the album is really better than the first half. To be more specific: I like no. 4, 7, 9 and 12 and also no.10. The other seven are mediocre for the standard the Swedes have set for themselves over the years. My personal favorite is People like Us which brings at least a sparkle amongst the mostly gloomy and dull mood of the album sound.

All in all a slightly disappointing effort for me but again: that's when I compare it to TFK. And it's hard for me to see it as a stand alone project without reference and then judge. Maybe then I would be less harsh. But as it is I can only come up with this review and judgement. And conclude with a cry from the heart: I want the sabbatical of TFK to be over ! I WANT MY FLOWER KINGS BACK !!!

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Being a big fan of The Flower Kings I'm naturally intrigued by any side project featuring Roine Stolt. Agents Of Mercy is largely a collaboration between Stolt and Nad Sylvan of Unifaun though also backed by some heavyweight friends including drummers Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Zoltan Csorsz (ex Flower Kings) and bassist Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings).

With this kind of pedigree I was expecting great things from Agents Of Mercy. After numerous plays I'm still totally underwhelmed by The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight. Naturally the playing is excellent though I'm not mad about Sylvan's vocals whom I would imagine for most people are somewhat of an acquired taste. The music bears all the hallmarks of The Flower Kings symphonic prog, not surprising considering half the band is here but in their less inspired moments. What this music lacks is strong hooks, I was longing to hear something memorable that I could remember after the album had finished playing but even after half a dozen listens or more very little makes a lasting impression.

There are a few moments that rise above the mediocrity like Heroes & Beacons but in the main it's a fairly low key affair, the music plodding along without any spark or excitement to lift it; a real shame considering the capabilities of the players involved. It's quite a frustrating listen like on A Different Sun where the instrumental opening sounds promising only to drop into another uninspiring vocal section. A return instrumental section lifts things a bit but it's too little too late.

Stolt has been involved in much excellent music over the years but Agents Of Mercy is the least satisfying of his projects to date. I for one won't be disappointed if this remains the only album from this collaboration.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have the luck of being a close friend of a guy who loves Prog and buys everything new he sees, and sells the albums he doesn't like very cheap, so when he offered me his recently bought copy of "The Fading Ghosts of Twilight" in 5 bucks, I grabbed it, despite I'm not a fan of THE FLOWER KINGS or UNIFAUN.

My first impression was that the band lacks of personality, but the ideas and sound are far above average, also liked the vocals that sounded like a combination of Pete Gabriel, Phil Collins, Fish and Matthew Parmenter, plus the excellent keyboards by Biggo Zelfries, his approach to the mini-moog and Mellotron is simply impressive as we all know.

The album starts with an excellent song, "The Fading Ghosts of Twilight" it has everything you can expect from a title track, the dramatic keyboards and mysterious vocals combine perfectly, even when the changes are not as radical as I expected from musicians of his level, the structure is quite interesting, the drumming is simply fantastic, a smile could be seen in my face while listing the good opener.

"The Unwanted Brother" is less impressive, the sound is excessively reminiscent of MARILLION, the power explosions of Roine in the guitar are probably what I liked more, too repetitive for my taste.

"Afternoon Skies" makes me think in "A Trick of the Tail", not that is too similar, but has that friendly and warm atmosphere that defined Collins GENESIS debut, the acoustic guitar played in an atmosphere style is pretty nice, not a masterpiece but good enough.

"Heroes & Beacons" is an interesting mini epic, starts soft and melancholic, flowing gently somehow in a transitional style between ATOTT and W&W, but about the third minute the interesting sections start, good interplay between Roine's guitar and Biggo that lead to a new soft passage, and again to an explosive section, following with this changes until the end of the song, again a highlight of the album.

"Jesus in the Barricades" sounds more like three men era GENESIS, if it wasn't for the excellent piano and Mellor would be a good moment to press the skip button, something I recommend to do when you reach "Waiting for the Sun", a track that bored me from the first to the last note.

"A Different Sun" has a very promising start with a great instrumental interplay, but sadly is only a mirage, the vocal section is just boring and uninspired, seems the band is unable to find a defined personality. becoming predictable and boring by moments.

Well. at least in "Ready to fly".the vocals are different, Stolt's voice is a good change, not that Nad sounds bad, but the mood was excessively similar in every track, good change, sadly the good moments are not too long, "People Like Us" is another good moment to press the skip button, sounds like a bunch of GENESIS clones playing some sort of soft Motown, very disappointing.

"A Soldier's Tale" is a hit and miss track, some brilliant moments and others that can only be describe as anodyne, again the instrumental passages in which Roine and Biggo dare to interplay are the ones that save the song.

"Bomb Inside Her Heart" is a good change, he acoustic feeling and jazzy drumming with some Flamenco overtones are very pleasant, which leads us to "Mercy & Mercury", along with the opener the best material AGENTS OF MERCY have recorded, a bright, powerful and imaginative song, strong from star to end.

Never before today I been so afraid to rate an album, because when I'm before a good or bad album, I have no problem to rate it, being that my hands don't shake when I have to give one or five stars, but "The Fading Ghosts of Twilight" is a real problem, sounds brilliant for moments and completely lack of personality on others, all the musicians are extremely talented, but their work as a team is just average, so I will have to go with 3 stars that would be 2.5 if the system of Prog Archives would allow it..

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First I was pleased. Then I was disappointed. Finally, I'm somewhere where I wished I will never be. It's like these cycles, I was almost afraid to listen to this album, because what I could hear. First, title track has it. Terrible beginning (which I first liked, or made myself believe that I like), while it gives me creeps when hearing this sharply sung "TIK-TOK" (it doesn't sound like tick-tock), but fortunately, situation will improve later.

Sp phase of blind admiring and unrational hating is gone, I can write these words now. "Unwanted Brother" last lines reminds me one TFK song, where it would continue with ""and holy rolling stone"", really the same situation, same feeling. Acoustic Flowers, example of good track is for example "Afternoon Skies". this light side of prog is intriguing, almost pop like songs, but because of almost acoustic version, you can hear every instrument clearly, so experience is even better. "A Soldier Tale" is another great and also long song. Great probably because it's very in TFK szyle, which I sub-consciously seeks. In fact, you can compare these two bands, only there is different singer as lead vocal force + there is more of piano work.

3(+), but no more. I can't give 4 stars to record I'm afraid of. There are things (believe me, maybe it's voice of Nad Sylvan, maybe recycling of things that make The Flower Kings) that I can't bear and enjoy it fully. I know that this may sounds silly and trust me, it's weird situation for me also, I never did such thing. Because of it and also because I know that a lot of things here are good, I don't dare to give less.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As Roine Stolt said in TFK's Message Board: "It started out as an acoustic scaled down album - but along the way there were elements of symphonic bombasm creepin' in alongside more acoustic shorter tunes - plenty of vocals - I got f-ckin' hijacked by a Bohemian Rhapsody Squad....... and UPS delivered ALL of Tony Banks vintage 70's keyboards to this address since Tony just discovered there is something called. software "plug ins", so he didn't need them." So you got the idea on how the music would sound like.

First off, I like the artwork where it represents something so called 'neo prog' I believe. Well it's deep rooted in IQ 'The Wake' album actually ... But it also reminds me to Cirque Du Soleil - the circus movie in which the music is really prog and I wonder why Cirque Du Soleil is not included here in progarchives.

On top of the cover, I would expect the project (I consider Agents of Mercy is like a project) something really BIG as it involves big guys from King Crimson as well as The Flower Kings. When I listened to the album for the first time it did impress me especially with the opening track 'The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight' (7:29) especially when Sylvan sings 'tick tock of the cock' ...yeah it reminds me to Mr Peter Gabriel in early Genesis - when he sung The Musical Box. In terms of overall music style this album is more into the kind of music that Genesis played when they were four-piece band with Mr Hackett still the guitar player. Yes, in some tracks Sylvan emulates Gabriel singing but most of the time he sounds like Phil Collins. Sometimes the music reminds me also to Anthony Phillips solo album in his early career.

If you love Genesis, you would definitely tend to compare this album with Genesis because the nuances remind us to Genesis. But be careful .. once you start comparing the music with Genesis you would then find yourself in a trap: any single segment of the music you start comparing it with any composition by Genesis. That's what I experienced because my first spin with the opening track brought me back to the glory days of Genesis. Nothing wrong with it but it made me suffering because in any given segment I try to compare with other tracks of Genesis.

The composition revolves around good melody combined with harmonies created from the instruments or the vocal. The opening track blew me away at the first spin. I got no trouble listening to the Sylvan's voice emulating Peter Gabriel. I truly love the way piano works brilliantly throughout the song and how the bass, guitar and drums find themselves positioned nicely in the music. However this song suffers in its structural integrity as in the middle of the track the style change not smoothly to another style that provides musical break.

The second track "The Unwanted Brother" (5:45) melody line in someway another reminds me to The Beatles "Lucy In The Sky with Diamond" with some bluesy elements. I like the guitar playing here. "Afternoon Skies" (4:01) is an acoustic setting with good combination of acoustic guitar feels and solid bass lines accompanying Collins-like singing. "Heroes & Beacons" (9:06) is a very nice song with great piano touch at the opening part followed with ambient keyboard work letting Sylvan's vocal line. This time he switches between Gabriel on low register notes and Collins on higher register notes. I remember Phil Collins singing for Anthony Phillips solo album "The Geese and The Ghost". I like the chorus line .. it's melodic.

"Jesus On The Barricades" (4:02) sounds like Phil Collins solo album. "Waiting For The Sun" (5:17) brings The Flower Kings style in with Roine Stolt takes the vocal part at the intro part. Yeah, this track sounds like The Flower Kings. "We'll just keep hanging on .." reminds me back to Genesis actually. "A Different Sun" (8:08) tries something different with heavier elements and more accentuated singing style of Sylvan. "Ready To Fly" (4:53) sounds like a ballad with acoustic guitar as rhythm section, lacking melody in its overall music stream in the song. "People Like Us" (4:54) is a poppy stuff that does not create anything great even though the music is more on The Flower Kings than Genesis. "A Soldiers Tale" (11:48) is too long in composition - it could have been done with shorter duration. "Bomb Inside Her Heart" (4:25) is another ballad. "Mercy & Mercury" (7:56) reminds me to Procol Harum especially in the keyboard work at the opening part.

Overall, this is a good music offered by Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Sylvan (Unifaun). Some songs have great melodies but the music lacks the soul. The contribution of big guys from King Crimson and The Flower Kings are not so obvious here, it's because most of the arrangements are mellow. The project actually does not need the contribution from the BIG guys, really. It's a good 'refreshment' for those of you who expect Genesis continues in music making these days ... Keep on proggin' ..!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Total Time 77:50

Latest members reviews

3 stars Boy, this cd held so much promise! It's filled with beautiful artwork inside and out; even the fancy calligraphy of the liner notes reminds me somewhat of Genesis' Trick of the Tail artwork. The vocalist for the fantastic Unifaun debut (Nad Sylvan) teaming up with the multi-talented Roine Stolt of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2439414) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I'm not entirely sure what to make of this album, or what to say about it. Judging by its score on here, it's reasonably highly rated ? which leaves me a little confused. Perhaps I have missed the point somewhere? It's not a bad album, as such. But, perhaps by nature of being something of a p ... (read more)

Report this review (#1312544) | Posted by stranded_starfish | Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In some ways I'm surprised at the other ratings for "The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight", and in some ways I'm not. Some reviews seem to use the unmet expectation of this being another Flower Kings album as a strike against it (and then of course others seem to use any elements of Flower Kings simi ... (read more)

Report this review (#253451) | Posted by plasmatopia | Sunday, November 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Agents Of Mercy is the latest side project of Flower Kings guitarist Roine Stolt. I am generally a fan of everything he does so I was excited about this latest venture of his. I also consider myself a casual fan of neo-prog (I like plenty of what Marillion and IQ have done). While there are a few ... (read more)

Report this review (#244493) | Posted by TheCaptain | Tuesday, October 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Prog muzak? Well, not really, but there are times on this album when this thought comes into my mind. There is a mellowness and softness to a lot of this that seems very muzak like, kind of mushy I guess. Okay, enough with the technical terminology :-) This album has been a grower I must s ... (read more)

Report this review (#226702) | Posted by infandous | Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I love this album! It is simply beautiful. It has grown on me through repeated listens, and now I really have a great appreciation for each song. First, a small background on the album, it is mainly the brainchild of one of my favorite prog musicians of all time: Roine Stolt. His signature sou ... (read more)

Report this review (#226447) | Posted by natewait | Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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