Another Solid Prog Album From Sweden
After releasing their debut album last year, Swedish supergroup Agents of Mercy makes a pretty strong follow-up with DramaRama. Although this is an album that most symphonic prog veterans have essentially heard before, this is still another high-quality release from Roine Stolt and company. If you liked the first album from Agents of Mercy, this should be another pleasant surprise for you. There's definitely no shortage of quality musicianship and songwriting to be found here. With that said, I still can't help but feel slightly disappointed when comparing DramaRama to some of the masterpieces that Stolt has participated with in The Flower Kings or Transatlantic. When compared to works of genius like Adam & Eve, Bridge Across Forever, or The Sum of No Evil, DramaRama simply falls a bit short. Still, if you're looking for a reliable and high quality progressive rock album, this is worth an acquisition.
The music played here is symphonic progressive rock, but different from that of The Flower Kings. Unlike TFK's work, there's not very much soloing on DramaRama, which can be a good or a bad thing, pending on your opinion of the band. There are plenty of times where I think The Flower Kings go a bit "overboard" with the soloing until it gets a bit tiring, so the general lack of solos may be a plus for some people. The melodic sections with vocal harmonies and instrumental simplicity give DramaRama a distinct Beatles influence. As a whole, if I were to describe this album, I would say it's a mix of The Beatles, Yes, Genesis, and some influence from Roine Stolt's other projects (Kaipa, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, The Tangent, etc.) as well. Thus, if you like symphonic prog on the more happy and melodic side, this album should be right up your alley.
As you can imagine from the likes of Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold, Lalle Larsson, and Walle Wahlgren, the level of musicianship is very high. These guys are some of the most talented prog musicians from Sweden, and it shows on DramaRama. The vocals from Nad Sylvan took some time for me to appreciate because of his unique tone, but once they're given some time to sink in, I realized that he's quite a talented vocalist.
The production is terrific. It showcases the modern amenities in production while maintaining a vintage seventies sound. This is the perfect sound for the album.
DramaRama is a really good album from Agents of Mercy, but it still stands as one of the weaker releases that these prolific musicians have participated in over the years. If you like Beatles-esque symphonic prog with a heavy emphasis on melody and harmony, DramaRama is an album worth getting. The songwriting, musicianship, and production are all very strong, so the least I can give this album is 3.5 stars.
1. The Duke Of Sadness
2. Last Few Grains Of Hope
3. Peace United
6. Meet Johnnie Walker
7. Cinnamon Tree
8. The Ballad Of Mary Chilton
9. Roger The Tailor
11. We Have Been Freed