Archive for January, 2012

Agents of Mercy – The Black Forest

January 16, 2012

The Black Forest

For my previous reviews of Agents of Mercy, I had only heard bits and pieces of the albums I talked about, a fact I hope I made that clear in those reviews. However, for their 2011 offering The Black Forest, I got to hear the album in its entirety several times. So what to say about this album? It does indeed have the similarities to Transatlantic I mentioned before, particularly in the high quality of the production. But where Transatlantic has a definite Beatles vibe, The Black Forest is completely missing such a flavoring. Instead, imagine if Genesis had become a bit more accessible while still remaining progressive and you’re in the ballpark of what this sounds like. That’s doubtless at least in part due to vocalist Nad Sylvan‘s Peter Gabriel-like tone, though he seems to have cut back on this just a bit for this album, at least for some of the songs. He’s a very verstile and emotional vocalist, and it’s great for him to have such a high quality backing band behind him now (relative to his former band Unifaun, even though I liked them too).

And it’s great for us too, because The Black Forest is a really good album. It’s not ground-breaking or challenging in any way, but it’s really good symphonic neo-prog with great playing, mature compositions, and sparkly-clean studio work. If you need challenging or avant-garde wierdness in your music, you’ll undoubtedly characterize The Black Forest as “boring and uninspired” or something similar. But for my tastes, this is a really good album that I’ll be listening to with some frequency for years to come. Check it out and decide for yourself … very nice in my opinion. — Fred Trafton

Click here for Agents of Mercy‘s web site
Click here for Agents of Mercy‘s MySpace page

Blue Mammoth

January 16, 2012

Blue Mammoth’s debut album full cover art

Blue Mammoth got started in 2009 as a project of bassist/producer Julian Quilodran (Octophera) and keyboardist/composer Andre Mitchell. Originally, this was a studio project with just these two, but the quality of the music began to attract other musicians, and they soon became a band including drummer Thiago Meyer and guitarist Andre Lupac (later succeeded by Cesar Aires when Lupac had to leave due to “personal issues”).

The resulting debut album Blue Mammoth is steeped in ’70’s prog mannerisms, heavy on synthesizers/keyboards and intricate bass lines (no surprise given the origins of the band), but with a bit of King Crimson flavoring as well, and even a Gentle Giant-ish a capella vocal section. Mitchell also handles vocals (in English, with only a little detectable accent). It’s heavily symphonic, with lots of heavy, majestic passages and important-sounding philosophy. And a great album cover (above, pasted together into the full panorama from separate jpg’s found on their old web site … I don’t think they ever published the entire thing, which is a shame. Right-click to open the thing full-size in your browser … it’s amazing) by artist Julio Zartos, see link to his web site below.

I’ll admit, Blue Mammoth was a slow-grower for me. I had to listen to it multiple times before the music and lyrics started to really touch my emotions, so I suggest at least three times through the album before you give it a thumbs-up or -down. Now that I’ve let it sink in, I think this album is near the top of my favorites list for 2011, it’s a wonderful album, leaving me hoping for more from these guys. Definitely one you’ll need to check out if you like ’70’s-style symphonic prog. — Fred Trafton

Click here for the official Blue Mammoth web site
Click here for the web site of artist Julio Zartos

Chosen 30th Anniversary Remaster released

January 3, 2012

For about 12 years now, I’ve had in my GEPR F.A.Q. page a paragraph that mentioned my old christian prog band Chosen. I said that one day I’d get our album digitized and make it available. So, over the Holidays, I finally found time to make it happen. I said in the F.A.Q. that I wanted to do it as a freebie, but now with the band discussing a 30-year reunion album, I thought I’d charge a small amount to help finance the new work. You can audition the whole thing using the below widget (if it doesn’t work, go directly to If you like what you hear, download a copy at our Bandcamp site.

One word of warning: if you think a new album will be like the old one, probably not. It probably will be quite different. Guitarist Jerry Kosak has gone on to create a really new and unique guitar style and is now way beyond where he was at the time (which I always thought was pretty cool even then). The rest of us still play as hobbyists, but have also moved on to different styles and even spiritual paths. But I still think we could make some fabulous music together … we’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy our 1982 album remaster. 30 years? Man, that’s hard to believe!

Click here for Chosen‘s rather old and lame web site. May be upgraded if/when we start work on a new album.
Click here for Chosen‘s Bandcamp site.
Click here for Jerry Kosak‘s web site.