Antares is a young (the members are between 21 and 25 years old) and talented new band from the northern part (Groningen) of Holland. They decided together to make progressive music and wanted to release a demo, to get some gigs in Holland. But at a certain point it became so serious that in the end they independently released a complete album. A brave decision, because who is buying progressive records these days. (.. we are!)
The band exists out of the following members:
Han Uil - vocals, guitars; Klaas Pot - guitars; Gerwin de Weert - keyboards; Jeroen Spanjaard - bass; Sander Zoer - drums and percussion.
The album is called "Choking the stone" and the boys did everything themselves, including the production and the artwork for the CD cover. The first track has the strange title "Ragamuffin Rag-and Bone-Man" (6:50). A song about a homeless guy who is walking the streets with a shopping trolley. First thing we notice is the clear and bright production, well done. The guitars are often heavy or metal like, but it is prog with a lot of variation. And that is the case for the whole album. Second track "Letting Go" (6:28) starts with a slow guitar and piano intro, but is soon interrupted with a heavy guitar lick. There is so much variation in this track, nice guitar work, a keyboard solo, great drum parts and last but not least Antares has with Han Uil also a great singer. When you think the second track ends, the next track has already started. It's called "Ethnic Cleansing" (5:33). This is a heavy song with lots of guitar. "Half of the Mirror" (9:51) is one of the longer tracks. In the beginning and the end there are beautiful eastern atmospheres created with the keyboards. Again there is a lot of guitar in the first part of this song. Halfway there is a break in the music and a nice synth solo of Gerwin de Weert. In the last part a guitar solo before the eastern atmospheres are closing this great track. This is one of my favourite tracks because of all the variation and nice atmospheres. "Circle of Keys" (4:17) is shorter and more up-tempo. But even in this shorter track they manage to put a lot of variation. The title track "Choking the Stone" (12:33) is not only the longest one but also the best of the album. Han Uil is bringing the vocal parts with a lot of passion. The band is showing all there skills in this "Magnus Opus" of their debut album. I can't believe these talented guys had no offers of record companies and had to bring their music via an independent release to us.
This is an album for lovers of the more heavy side of progressive rock. The band is young but shows with this great debut album that they are very talented. The great thing about their music is that it has so much variation. And the passion for playing the music they like shines thru their music. I am sure they will get that record deal soon. And I am very curious how this band will develop in the near future.