Can't believe that this is my first Knight Area review for progVisions. For years Knight Area was the Dutch flagship of Symphonic Rock for me. This fact had to do with the line-up of the band in those days. The band included my favorite Dutch keyboardist Gerben Klazinga, my favorite Dutch bass player Gijs Koopman and my favorite Dutch vocalist Mark Smit. In the year 2007 the band released their second album “Under A New Sign”, an album full of delicious melodic symphonic rock songs like “Mastermind” and ““Dreamweaver”. Remember visiting some amazing gigs in those years. After that the band made several good albums but in the end couldn't keep that perfect line-up intact. Well that is life and of course a progressive band has to develop their sound over the years.
For me the biggest change came with their previous and fifth studio album “Hyperdrive”. With good old Peter Vink on bass and the very talented young guitarist Mark Bogert. The sound of the band changed into symphonic rock with a heavy or metallic bite. To be honest I missed the melodies on that album a little bit and on the following “Hyperlive” CD & DVD versions my favorite section was the encore with a medley of those old melodic songs. But I am aware that this is a personal thing. The heavy bite also brought the band some new fans and the Knight Area fanbase is still growing.
I heard some very positive reactions of people who attended a tryout gig of the new material at a small intimate theater in The Netherlands. So I was very curious to hear the new music. The new and sixth studio album is entitled “Heaven and Beyond” and is released on their new record label Butler Records which is distributed by Bertus. The new album will be officially presented to the audience on February 11th at our Dutch Prog temple “de Boerderij” in Zoetermeer.
Mark Smit - vocals, additional keyboards;
Gerben Klazinga - keyboards;
Pieter van Hoorn - drums; Peter Vink - bass guitars; Mark Bogert - guitars
The album opens with the song “Unbroken”. After an intro on the keyboards a beautiful melodic guitar part follows. Guitarist Mark Bogert immediately makes its mark with marvelous guitar playing and the combination of melodic melodies and some fast guitar licks is working out very nice. And when Mark Smit sings his first vocal lines I am impressed by this "new" and fresh sound. Also because with a rhythm section formed by drummer Pieter van Hoorn and Peter Vink on the bass your sound has a powerful foundation.
The next track is called “Dreamworld” an up-tempo song with catchy vocal lines and beautiful keyboard melodies of Gerben Klazinga. Also on this track Mark Bogert is playing some great melodic guitar parts. “The Reaper” opens with a mysterious vocal section only accompanied with some bass and keyboard strings before the band goes full throttle for a while with broad keyboard sounds. The song develops into a brooding piece of symphonic rock with great singing of Mark Smit. You can find some great vocal melodies and a lovely synth solo of Gerben in this track.
In the next tracks “Box of Toys” and “Starlight” vocalist Mark Smit is shining in the beautiful and melodic vocal parts. The band proofs to have the ability to compose short and catchy songs. Personally I think that “Box of Toys” could be a great single for the band. In the up-tempo “Starlight” you can find some great guitar parts. Then it is time for the title track of the album “Heaven and Beyond”. It has a slow opening with delicate guitar and piano playing with a beautiful melodic vocal line on top. In the middle section of this slow song you can enjoy great keyboard orchestrations and a beautiful soaring guitar solo. With “Heaven and Beyond” the melodies are definitely back in the music of Knight Area.
“Savior of Sinners” is typical Knight Area song with melodic vocal lines and some aggressive guitar support. But this is also combined with some fast but melodic guitar parts. You could say that on this album the guitar playing of Mark Bogert is more in balance. You don't have to play always fast licks to show your skills. The following song “Eternal Light” proofs this remark; Mark is playing a beautiful melodic guitar solo only accompanied by some delicate keyboard support of Gerben. In “Twins of Sins” you can find not only those melodic synth and guitar parts and great vocal lines but also the rhythm section gets some room to make some nice accents in the music. “Tree of Life” Is a typical modern Knight Area song with some harder edged elements. The last song of the album “Memories” is a beautiful ballad with amazing guitar parts of Mark Bogert. It is a worthy ending of a wonderful album.
With their new album “Heaven and Beyond” Knight Area have found a better balance between their typical and original melodic style and the more hard edged sound of their previous studio album “Hyperdrive”. With this album under their belt and the support of their new record label Butler Records, the future looks bright for the band. If you would like to support the Dutch flagship of Symphonic Rock and like to have a nice party together with the band you are welcome on February 11th at the Dutch Prog temple “de Boerderij” in Zoetermeer for the official release party of “Heaven and Beyond”.