After the release of the mini-album “Massive hollowness” which was more mainstream rock orientated the Dutch band Mangrove has definitive chosen to take the course of symphonic rock. All this became possible when the band found young keyboard player Chris Jonker to become a full member of the band. On top of the framework of the rhythm section, formed by Joost Hagemeijer and Pieter Drost, Roland van der Horst and Chris Jonker are the suppliers of the melodic melodies. To come straight to the point, my burning question is can you be disappointed by an album with good compositions.
Roland van der Horst – guitars, lead vocals; Joost Hagemeijer – drums, vocals; Pieter Drost – bass; Chris Jonker – keyboards.
Yesterday the band had the opportunity to play a gig as support-act of Tom Scherpenzeel’s band Kayak in my hometown Apeldoorn (The Netherlands). And to be honest with you I liked the set of Mangrove better than that of the famous Dutch band. The gigs of Mangrove have an enormous powerful drive. But what about the music on this CD.
The CD consists out of nine tracks “Fatal sign” (9:54), “Vicious circle” (5:29), “Cold world” (6:36), “Penelope” (7:08), “I close the book” (5:51), “Help me” (5:29), “Wizard of tunes” (8:52); “Back again” (5:39) and “City of darkness” (8:43).
The acoustic guitar in “Fatal Sign” and “I close the book” brings a kind of Genesis / Anthony Phillips atmosphere to the music. The guitar sounds of Roland van der Horst are extremely varied. I hear resemblances to Fripp/Hackett (“Penelope”), Holdsworth/Latimer (“Help me”), Latimer (“Wizard of tunes”). He is playing a soaring guitar solo in the closing track “City of darkness”. But the symphonic character of this CD is rooted in the contributions of keyboardist Chris Jonker. You only have to listen to his solo work in “Cold world”, “Wizard of tunes” and “City of darkness”.
Mangrove has made a big step forward with “Touch Wood”. The band sounds more mature and Roland and Chris are directing the band into the melodic sympho world. My personal favorite tracks are “Wizard of tunes” and “City of darkness”.
But... (there seems to be always a but) ... I’m still disappointed by this good album. Something is wrong. The power and dynamics of their music is gone. And in some parts I though I was listening to Mangrove in slow motion. Maybe it is because I knew already all the songs from their live gigs and live radio shows. I’m sure the band has put all their effort and a lot of hours into this first fullworthy album. Maybe it is over produced. Please don’t understand me wrong. This is still a good album from a new promising Dutch band. But instead of a good album it could have been a great album!