In the early nineties keyboard-player Edo Spanninga was looking for musicians to write and play prog music. He formed a trio with Frans Wolf (keyboards) and Wiebe Wolf (guitar). They started as a midi/sequencer orientated group, but soon they felt the lack of a real time drummer. Koen Roozen (drums) responded to an ad in a local music shop, and he came up with bass player Marcel Derix. For one year this band played instrumental prog music. Siebe-Rein Schaaf joined the band as vocalist/keyboard-player. Shortly after that the Wolf twins left the band and were replaced by Andre Cents (guitar). They named the band Flamborough Head, a cliff on the East Coast of England. They chose the name because they hope their music is as outstanding, rising and impressive as the cliffs of "Flamborough Head". They built a rehearsal studio at the "Harmsdobbe", the farmyard campsite of drummer Koen Roozen. Maybe you have heard of the small festival "Progfarm" they organise every year. The band rehearsed for two years and recorded a first demo "Legend of the old man tree". In 1996 the band played their first gig as support of the English band Jadis. Cyclops released in 1998 the first cd called "Unspoken whisper". One of the reactions of the press was "Finally we've got a real symphonic masterpiece from Holland". Last summer Flamborough Head recorded their second album "Defining the legacy" which tells the story of the relation between a father and his son. Siebe-Rein Schaaf who decided to leave the band wrote the lyrics. His farewell concert was at "Progfarm 2000". At that gig they also presented their new guitarist Eddie Mulder. At the time of recording "Defining the legacy" André Cents decided to leave the band due to different musical interests of him and the other members.
So the lineup of the band for this cd is as follows: Siebe Rein Schaaf - vocals, keyboards, Edo Spanninga - keyboards, Koen Roozen - drums, Marcel Derix - bass, André Cents - guitars.
Let's talk about the music now! The cd is as mentioned earlier a concept album, which tells the story of the relation between a father and a son. If you read the small excerpt from the title track "Defining the legacy" (11:15) at the top of this review, you see it is a bad one. The lyrics are very personal and have a great impact, also on the music. Piano together with melotron and flute samples is accompanying the first couplets sung by Siebe-Rein. The beautiful piano is the instrument, which leads us through all the variations of the song. After four minutes we hear the first organ sounds, which reminds me of another great Dutch band from the past: Solution, and the track develops into a great symphonic piece with delicious keyboards and passionate guitar licks of André Cents. The second track "House Of Cards" (9:16) starts with a slow melodic synth solo accompanied by guitar. Then the music has its first burst out with organ and drums. The track has many changes of mood, aggressively sung parts and really beautiful melodic sympho pieces with great keyboards and guitar solo's. Everything played and sung with a great passion. With a synth solo the track seamless goes over into "Garden Of Dreams" (12:35). So together we have more than 20 minutes of music. And what for music! This part is more up-tempo than the previous one. But the piano is returning to announce another rhythm change. Sometimes the vocals are very aggressive, and at one point remind me of a track from the also Dutch band Dilemma. Great sympho piece with nice fat synth solos.
"Assassin" (9:07) opens mysteriously with keyboards and a classical harpsichord like keyboard sound. The piece has romantic orchestral keyboard sounds and fat synth solos as well. There is a lot of variation in the music. And I have the impression the pieces of the whole album are building up slowly towards a climax. In this track we hear even some old sympho (Genesis, Marillion) like synth solos. "Impulse" (11:17) is opening with splattering water sounds but then a heavy organ opens together with synth and guitar. Great guitar solos, which still reminds me of all kinds of Dutch bands, like Solution and even Focus. You have to listen with great attention to here all the influences of Dutch and English sympho bands. It just lightly shines through their own personal style of music. There is even some hardrock guitar parts to accompany the aggressive mean lyrics of this track. After this heavy sympho track "Bridge to the promised land" (6:37) opens with orchestra samples and the beginning melody of a violin played with a synth. The melody is sad but beautiful. Edo is doing a great job with his synths here. The piece has a nice classical feeling. In the end André is playing a great melodic guitar solo. The piece ends in style with applause, which goes over into a rain with thunder sample. "Mind-Sculpture" (7:58) is the last track of this album and starts with slow melodic keyboards. The melody is great of this piece. The keyboards are joined with a fantastic guitar solo. There is a lot of emotion. This is the farewell of André Cents, who shows us one more time he can play the guitar. This slow keyboard dominated instrumental piece radiates the atmosphere of hope for the future.
Flamborough Head is for me absolutely the best Dutch Symphonic Rock band. I use the term Symphonic Rock on purpose. The music on this album is mainly keyboard oriented. But there are also delicious guitar parts. The music has a great variation in rhythms and atmospheres. This album will appear in my top 10 list of the year 2000. And as a Dutch citizen I am very proud to have such a good band in Holland. I wish them good luck with their new guitarist and the search for a new singer. For those of you who don't know the band: Listen to it at your local record-shop! I am sure you will buy a copy then.