In 2011, Swedish progressive rock band Agents of Mercy released their third album called The Black Forest. It has a dark vibe to it while having some optimism of hope. The two key members, Nad Sylvan (lead vocal) and Roine Stolt (guitars, vocals) are joined again by Jonas Reingold (bass), Lalle Larsson (keyboards, vocals) and Walle Wahlgren (drums). All work together like a well oiled machine and compliment each other throughout the album. They blend old and new sounds to create something fantastic!
“The Black Forest” (11:06) is not only the band’s longest song, it also has some of the heaviest riffs from Roine Stolt. This is one of the finest moments on the album and one of my favorites of the band. Everyone is in top form here which I’d say is a perfect way to open an album.
“A Quiet Little Town” (6:57) is slightly more accessible with a jazz/funk side with a symphonic foundation.
“Black Sunday” (6:13) another heavy beginning that is most modern sounding of all of the Agents’ catalog. One of my favorites as well. Full of catchy & memorable hooks and vocals. I usually play this for my non-prog friends and so far it’s well received.
“Elegy” (6:13) is a beautiful gentle melodic song while sounding quite epic for it’s length. Roine’s soulful guitar playing is in top form here. Nad’s vocals are so emotive like he’s pouring out his heart.
“Citadel” (7:03) is dominated vocally by Roine with Nad backing him up. It’s also a more of a hard rock song with some hints of Zeppelin thanks to the howls of Nad. The foundation is of a symphonic kind and very catchy.
“Between Sun & Moon” (5:04) reminds me of the softer side of The Flower Kings especially since this is another Roine/Nad sharing lead vocals. Nad & Roine have such special vocals that compliment each other, much in the way that Roine & Hasse does.
“Freak Of Life” (7:59) is another favorite of mine from the band. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride from beginning to end which starts off with some trippy keyboards followed by spoken word by Nad in the way a ringmaster would do. The vocals are mostly done by Nad with Roine doing backing support. I’m reminded of another Agents’ track from their previous album, Dramarama, the opening track “The Duke of Sadness”.
“Kingdom of Heaven” (5:29) is the final track of the album and the only instrumental. Filled with beautiful playing by the band and a perfect way to end off a fantastic album.
I feel truly honored to have witnessed Agents of Mercy’s performance at Rosfest (2012). From the new album, they played “The Black Forest”, “Quiet Little Town”, “Elegy”, “Citadel” & “Black Sunday”. Seeing them live gave me a even greater appreciation for the band and their wonderful music. The Black Forest gets one of the highest recommendations I’ve ever given.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on June 29th, 2012