Mangrove is one of the new Dutch bands that have chosen the difficult path of getting some attention playing the music they like themselves best (prog). It happens that guitar player Roland van der Horst is living in my hometime Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. I have seen the band performing twice now, and they deserve to get some attention in the prog-scene. The mini CD “Massive hollowness” is their first effort and put on the market as an independent release.
“Massive hollowness” line-up:
Roland van der Horst – Guitars, guitar synthesizer & Backing Vocals, Joost Hagemeijer – Drums, Keyboards & Backing Vocals. Pieter Drost – Bass. Eric Holdtman – Vocals & Backing Vocals.
Guest: Hans v.d. Linden – Keyboards.
At the moment of writing this review the line-up of the band has changed a little bit. Singer Eric Holdtman has left the band and guitarist Roland van der Horst is doing this difficult job now. I don't know if this is a permanent solution, but it is difficult to find a good prog-singer these days. The band found in the person of Chris Jonker a good keyboard player. Chris is a young and very talented keyboard player, and I think Mangrove has found the right person to develop their music in a more symphonic-progstyle. The gigs I attended gave me the impression that the band has already developed in a positive way.
On “Massive hollowness” are some mainstream rock influences. Singer Eric is often singing in an aggressive way I don't like very much. The guys of the band told me they want to get rid of those old rock songs and develop in a more symphonic way. They are concentrating more on melodies now. The first song "Freedom" (3:55) is an up tempo rocker which reminds me more of Jimi Hendrix then of a prog band. The next song is a suite build out of three parts and is called "Zone". This is the highlight of the album and shows the hidden potential the band already had at the time of recording this mini CD. "Part one" (3:38) is up-tempo and the old singer is spoiling it for me with his aggressive way of singing. In the end it becomes more interesting with a very nice melodic guitar solo of Roland. His sound is a mix of Latimer, Gilmour and Holdsworth when he plays melodic parts. I am sure he likes those guitar players of the A division. He must have visited the same Holdsworth gigs like I did in my hometown. "Part two" (3:38) is slow and atmospheric with marimba sounds on the keys and guitar sounds ala Fripp. In "Part three" (2:53) Rolands guitar sounds again like Holdsworth. The vocals are slow and have a beautiful melodic line. "Time bomb" (4:57) is a song in the same melodic style and ends with a nice guitar solo of Roland. Next track is a song called "Hollow" (6:18) and has more up-tempo parts with a singer who in my opinion is singing like an actor who is overacting. The instrumental parts with the keyboards I like best. "Masque" (3:41) is a song based on acoustic guitar and vocals. Last track on this mini CD is "My pain" (5:12). Like the opener of this album this is more a rock song with some bluesy influences.
Based on the live gigs I witnessed I can say that this band has some potential and is developed further than this first mini-CD shows. The CD has not a great sound quality but I am sure that will be better on the next CD. The band is already working in the studio at this moment. And I am very curious to hear the next CD where hopefully the rock songs are disappeared and will be replaced by the more melodic style, which I think, suits the band better. The new keyboard player can have his own role in this development. For me the best tracks of the album are the "Zone Part I II & III" and "Time bomb".