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Knight Area - D-Day CD (album) cover

D-DAY

Knight Area

 

Neo-Prog

3.74 | 33 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
4 stars Dutch prog band Knight Area was founded in 2003 by musical brainchild Gerben Klazinga (keyboards, drums, vocals and co-producer), and included singer Mark Smit (from the Queen cover band Miracle) and bass player Gijs Koopman (ex-Cliffhanger). In December 2004 I witnessed Knigth Area its first gig, supporting the debut CD release entitled The Sun Also Rises, it was an awesome Dutch triple prog concert near Amsterdam, with Plackband and Lady Lake. In my PA review in 2005 I wrote about The Sun Also Rises: 'The 10 melodic, alternating and tasteful progrock compositions feature lots of majestic Mellotron waves and flashing synthesizer runs and sensitive electric guitar soli, along beautiful instrumentation with flute, accordion and acoustic guitar. In my opinion this CD is a splendid 24-carat symphonic rock album that deserves a worldwide recognition.'

Well, as a fan of the first hour I have followed Knight Area during the years and often seen the band. I consider the third CD Realm Of Shadows from 2009 as their best effort. Then gradually Knight Area turned into a more heavy sounding band, with echoes from early Dream Theater. From that moment I lost Knight Area, despite the fact that in 2014 Dutch legend Peter Vink (Q65 and Finch) replaced Gijs Koopman. Recently I got in touch with prime mover Gerben Klazinga who send me the new album D-Day, from 2019. This 7th studio-album fearures new singer Jan Willem Ketelaers, he worked with Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) and Robby Valentine (who is also a guest musician on this new Knight Area album).

On this new Knight Area album the band delivers very accessible melodic hardrock that borders with prog metal, bands like Queensryche, Savatage, Ayreon and Dream Theater come to my mind. It's far away from the sound on the debut album The Sun Also Rises, but I am impressed the way Knight Area presents the dramatic D-Day concept in the 10 compositions. The approach is very song-oriented with the focus on new singer JW Ketelaers (powerful and a good range) and excellent guitarist Mark Bogert (he easily switches from lots of Satriani/Vai-like blistering and biting runs to moving like Andy Latimer (Omaha Beach) or classical guitar like Steve Howe (March To Victory). Gerben Klazinga his keyboards are often functional (many beautiful orchestral layers) but at some moments he shines with runs on the synthesizer (The Landing and Wings Of Time) or waves of Hammond organ (Overlord). The rhythm-section does a good job, often propelling the heavy sound.

The songs are embellished with some captivating musical ideas, like the voices of Eisenhower and Churchill, the lyrics of a psalm, and the sound of militairy drums, all tributing to an atmosphere that matches with the dramatic subject D-Day. Another strong element is the use of dynamics, lots of heavy parts but also some slowdowns, in order to create tension. The song When I'll Be With You even features only Robby Valentine his tender Grand piano and JW Ketelaers his melancholical vocals, simply wonderful. The final track Freedom for Everyone is dedicated to the victims of the socalled Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as a psychiatric nurse I have often seen what war does to the mental health of young soldiers, devastating! In this song Knight Area succeeds to create a very compelling atmosphere that matches with the changes of the mental state: first dreamy with warm vocals and twanging guitar, then moving guitar, strong vocals with emotional undertone and lots of fiery guitar runs (like a 'Heavy Howe') in a bombastic climate, what a strong conclusion of an impressive album.

If you are up to this heavy and accessible sounding Knight Area with its song-oriented approach, and a focus on powerful vocals and harder-edged guitar work I am sure this album will delight you, well done Dutchmen!

TenYearsAfter | 4/5 |

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