Band: Agents of Mercy
Band Website: www.myspace.com/agentsofmercy
Label: Foxtrot Music - Independent Release
Release Date: 2009
There are few more prolific in the progressive rock community than Roine Stolt so in some ways when I heard Roine was planning on recording an album with Unifaun vocalist Nad Sylvan I was intrigued. Upon actually listening to the disc entitled The Fading Ghosts of Twilight I was pleasantly surprised because not only did it not sound like a Unifaun disc, it hardly even sounded like a Flower Kings recording. Stolt (guitars, lap steel, ukulele, keyboards, orchestration, vocals) has assembled quite a cast to execute the music here including; Biggo Zelfries (keyboards, violin), Jonas Reingold (bass), Pat Mastelotto (drums), Zoltan Csoraz (drums), Jimmy Keegan (drums) and of course Nad Sylvan (vocals). Together they are called Agents of Mercy.
There are a total of 12 tracks on The Fading Ghosts of Twilight with only hints or mere nods to the music of Unifaun or the Flower Kings, which is as it should be, I suppose. In many ways seeing that all music and lyrics were written by Stolt this is in many ways a solo album for him, all-be-it with significant vocal arrangement assistance from Nad. Many of these compositions tend to be longer, five of them over seven-minutes with the rest hovering in the four or five minute range. The songs all feature little hints of familiarity, although the compositions themselves are quite restrained in their execution. There are very few grand sweeping crescendos with chords building upon chords; rather there is a smooth almost mellow feel that pervades these songs with the vocals either by Nad or Roine very much up front in the mix. There is no question this music belongs to the symphonic prog category; they are rich with layers, even lush in spots heavily orchestrated but rarely do they achieve a bombastic quality. As I say it’s more restrained even when the intensity is pushed a bit as in “Heroes and Beacons” [9:06]. Just when you think the song will really take off; it only goes part way, never over the top. This is a different side to Stolt’s compositional skills. We all know he is eminently capable crafting the grand epic masterpiece; here however he takes his skills to a different place.
For my money The Fading Ghosts of Twilight is a quality piece of progressive rock music. It is exactly what the band set out to do and that is to make music that is unique to the band Agents of Mercy. I daresay if you are a fan of either The Flower Kings or Unifaun you’ll find a lot of wonderful music here. Fans of symphonic prog will likewise really enjoy this disc. My guess is this will make a lot of “best of” lists for 2009 and that’s well deserved. Recommended.