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Mangrove - Beyond Reality CD (album) cover

BEYOND REALITY

Mangrove

Symphonic Prog


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4 stars When the good chaps at Mangrove approached the progboys to send us this album we were more than pleased to take them up on their offer as we had heard great things about this band.

The album artwork immediatley reminded me of the band "Magnum" and their brillantly designed and unique covers which rodney matthews was responsible for.This is certainly an album I would pick up and buy on an impulse purchase as well so they must be congratulated on this,but their were some downsides to the design which we will touch on a little later. Soundwise though this album was a complete surprise to the Progboys,as we were expecting a european progressive metal band,so never judge a book by its cover.

The music could be described as symphonic rock with a complex web of lush guitars and keyboards and has been very well produced with a very keen attention to the sonic tapestry that they create.The vocals are reminiscent of Pink Floyd`s "The Wall", and shows that they must have been a great influence to Mangrove even if the vocal sound a little "European" (which is not derogatory in the least).

That said, it is a great album, lots of twiddly keyboards to shake a stick at,with soaring guitars and a sound reminiscent of midway point genesis with a hint of I/Q in the mix as well. For some reason that is beyond reality to me is the booklet that accompanies the cd. The lyrics are printed backwards, so if you are one (like me) that likes to read the "rules" to the songs, then you will have to hold them up to a mirror, which was a pain.

But don`t let that put you off. "Beyond Reality" is an album to keep even that hardened Progger interested, including the 18 minute "Time Will Tell" which is the best track on the album.

The Progboys are looking forward to the next project from Mangrove,and it is definetly worth seeking out and buying,just print the lyrics the right way round please.:-)

www.progboys.com

Report this review (#235394)
Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Oh, fine. Two words, just for case I won't be able to write more: "Don't know". Or another two: "Confusing & great". For few bucks, you get roughly 67 minutes of probably best, or one of the best symphonic things from this year. 4 long songs, two short. Strong melodic element. And this cover, I was always fan of this Dalí picture (after all, he died just month before I was born) and this building on the edge of reality (for every sensitive album I create my own story, this one is on border of reality and dream world, with clocks blending, skies twisting and building serving as one solid point in the mouth of madness. Nice madness.

"Daydreamer's Nightmare" is, except playful name (really creative name) offers long guitar solos which, and that is important, we maybe got here before. But their melody is something so new, so original, that it became without hesitation to status of my favourite record. Big part of this illusion (because it's easy to have average, 3 album, then it takes little more effort to put it to 4 star position, but still, hundreds of album deserves this rating in my mind. But masterpiece, oh even something with (read bellow line) is hard to find and also rate with clear conscience. When you can enjoy every tiny little bit of track, there's either something wrong with you, or great about album. I rather chose second choice and explain it, because consequences of first thing would be far reaching. After all, it's all about words, as this music is about sounds, instruments, vocals, and melody. Oh, perfect choice of cover art, when you combine it with this track, one like me with big imagination will see things. In fact, this song offers a lot of material for your brain to process, evaluate and throw in result. For example normal way is to have one strong theme in song, repeat it few times and between it give weaker parts. Don't expect it to be here, because there is one strong part interchanged for another. In fact, I haven't so good feeling and wasn't so strong in my decision to give 5 stars even when rating classic albums from 70s which I normally admire the most. Not talking that "Time Will Tell" is even longer and starts completely different, uses different things, themes, techniques of getting attention.

for many things, like bringing fresh winds to symphonic prog sails, having my jaw fell down after hearing this, great vocals (not similar to any I know by far) and feeling of something perfect.

Report this review (#237830)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mangrove is proving itself as a mainstay on the celebrated and vivacious Dutch prog scene, their new release hot on the heels of upcoming releases from fellow countrymen Leap Day and a third chapter for Knight Area. Allegedly a long awaited Odyssice is in the cards, being recorded as we write. So thinks are proggy in Holland and these dedicated musicians feel no difficulty in pursuing their musical quest, diving even deeper into the lush, extended symphonics that characterize their sound. "Beyond Reality" simply is the extension of "Facing the Sunset" with a resolute addiction to epic pieces, in the 13 to 20 minute range, with colossal sweeps and elongated instrumental passages in a classic thematic album, well within the sanctified tradition. "Daydreamer's Nightmare" explains their methodology succinctly, with endless variations on a central premise, occasional pompous grandeur that is most welcome for being above all, astute, highlighted by Hackett-toned guitar swirls from Roland van der Horst, as well as Chris Jonker's sinuous keyboard acrobatics. The whopping 18 minute + "Time Will Tell" is more upbeat, predictable laying the ground for the "story" , a romping digression that can seem a tad simplistic but a sense of balance is what makes this album tick. A sultry electric piano and a friendly jangling guitar gives this a breezy, tropical feel (see what Aruba does to you!), a rarely attempted style that molds perfectly here, especially when the synthesizers go galactic. A huge van der Horst foray leaves no stone unturned, scouring the horizon with Machiavellian insistence. The middle section has a Floyd feel to die for, a gentle binary lilt with its deliberate slide guitar, droning keys and bluesy atmospherics , completely priceless (if you're going to do PF, do it well, it ain't that complicated !), you would swear being on the Moon wishing you were here! (playing with your words again!). The Camel-like development is first-rate, getting more powerful and hence, less influenced, even though the long synth attack is pure Bardens. The last few minutes are verging on hysteria, mellotron blaring defiantly, a totally classic Genesis moment. Yes, they wear their revered mentors on their habile cuffs without any reservation and open, honest respect. The righteous "Love and Beyond" is perhaps close to classic Styx balladry (in a good sense) but when you have such a glorious melody to play with, how can you not be impressed. A romantic little ditty well positioned as an interlude. The nearly 7 minute "Reality Fades" is where these guys really get the picture, a haunting, faraway church bell tolls the melancholy until the magnificent van der Horst takes over the Rover and ushers in a bold guitar statement that is pure ear candy, some sprightly bass runs from Peter Drost and depth charge drumming from Joost Hagenmeijer and the deed is done. The title track kicks off with an elegant piano etude, an imperial guitar segment that heightens the tempo and the urgency becomes obedient to the cause, a blooming piece of symphonic prog that is ruined only slightly by forced vocals that tragically fail (strange, the voice is pretty good throughout though) . The upward spiraling symphonic vortex is splendid until the voice gets in the mix. Of well! Small blip! "Voyager" redeems the temporary confusion with a ripping "Cold as Ice" by Foreigner riff, followed by some good old fashioned "music muscle" flexing. Pretty pleasant finale that kept me content all the way through. I cannot anoint this with perfection because it isn't close to Nirvana. They are getting there but this is only a slight improvement on "Sunset". When they progress into denser theatrics and cut out the occasional "manque de jugement" (lack of?), they will be a force to bow down to. 4 eternal mirrors
Report this review (#245753)
Posted Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, that was a close call you might say. After listening to this album about 5 times it left me more and more underwhelmed and I was about to give it a three star rating. I couldn't believe it really but to understand that I should explain my personal little history with Mangrove.

Their debut Touch Wood was my second experience with the band because I first got acquainted with Facing the Sunset. This second album made me fall for them completely because this successor was a more than excellent work. Touch Wood however showed that Mangrove had made an obvious improvement with FtS. Touch Wood was a nice album with several very nice moments already revealing great class. This class came out with the successor and then it's understandable you expect at least conformation with the third release.

And there we have the problem, the inevitable trap one falls into every time again: the high expectations, so high probably that it's almost impossible to live up to. And that's what's going on here with me. I expected a masterpiece because I know this excellent band is capable of that. After first listening I heard some very nice things and thought: well, it could be there. But next few attempts left me underwhelmed like I said because I also heard the flaws all over sudden like an unoriginal and almost cheesy concept. I mean, come on guys, lines like "A face beyond reality, how I'd like to change your mind". This is such an obvious theme that has been done a hundred times before. This is really disappointing. Overlooking all the band has done I think it's safe to say their instrumental compositional and executional performance is their great strength and is the reason why I love the music so much. But let's face it, the lyrics and the vocal efforts are truly the Achilles heel of the band and cause my relatively low ratings for a band with such enormous potential. This potential also shines through clearly on this latest but in my opinion not as brightly as on Facing the Sunset which was close to a masterpiece to me.

Beyond Reality isn't I'm afraid but I have to be fair and I have to admit this album has some great moments too. The epics are a mix of the disappointing lyrical and vocal performance and huge instrumental parts that again gives the shivers down the spine as Mangrove did before. It's the reason I will always pay them the respect they deserve. After a last thorough listening I can only conclude this is way too good for a three star rating so I can only think of one justified conclusion: four stars. Beyond Reality is a slight step back compared to the predecessor as I already mentioned. Nevertheless the build up of the album is carefully worked out and deserves a compliment (including a magnificent grand finale in the second half of last track Voyager). Next time an interesting concept (lyrically) and we'll probably could welcome a masterpiece I'm sure they are capable of. A well meant hint from me: minimize the vocals and maximize the instrumentals.

Report this review (#245967)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars What is it that today fascinates so many people that apparently gets an orgasmic joy at listening to bands operating after the receipt model? What is it for a mechanism that makes our brain embrace normality, lack of surprises, superficiality, plagiature, shiny apparences and that kind? As a musician, I've asked myself this question many times; in music terms, I've asked myself WHAT makes neo-prog enjoyable? What's the meaning of hearing a new group rehashing old ideas, trying to hide the fact that they are old by just revamping it with newer sounds or other cheap tricks? Are we afraid of digging and willing to find the deep substance that makes music worth listening or learning? Are we satisfied only to have a superficial ear massage? Don't we want to find a true personnality behind the notes instead of the ghost of other actors suddenly recognized? All those questions have bothered my mind as I listened repeatedly to "Beyond Reality". What did I find? A band that apparently gives way too much care to everything connected to the form: slicky sound and booklet, huge marketing on the web, artwork generally. But what about the content, the music? Pasting Steve Hackett's licks and fading them with Gilmourian guitars, using as many prog clichés as possible heard in so many other bands before, shaking the whole thing in a big bowl to make as if it is not recognizable doesn't give much meaning to me. Mangrove's members are fine craftsmen, they know how to use tools and turn knobs, maybe even record their solo to a click and quantize afterwards if necessary but where's the heart, their real themselves? It seems that they want to please as many prog heads as possible and therefore fish as much as possible inside the prog archives and their icons! That's a dead idea and it smells of business; furthermore, it depreciates the word *progressive* to do things that way. It becomes a marketable product, like a soap. Perfect forms shaping empty content are due to quickly be forgotten and will only please those who live of illusions or those who don't want to seek anything particuliar but find it enough to have an agreable background made of repetitions of the past. I am really surprised to see so many stars flourishing in the reviews of *specialists* here on this forum; I see in it a strong sign of our today's society, outlined among other by mass consumption, superficiality and boring times. Can't really give more than two stars and would urge you guys to be more asking in your music habits. Wake up!
Report this review (#248223)
Posted Thursday, November 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The third album of this Dutch band is by far their best released so far.

From a dull and weak debut which was totally "Genesis" derivative and of little interest, the band was able to display a better offering for this "Beyond Reality". This is best confirmed during the excellent opener "Daydreamer's Nightmare". Almost fifteen minutes of very good instrumental passages: by far their best song ever.

The neo feel strikes back with the epic "Time Will Tell" which starts as a gentle and standard song. Average (but invading) vocals and too little space for musical development. Fine guitar as usual but average keyboards are the conventional spices of their music.

To be complete, it is true that the second half is very much Floyd oriented and, again, a very Gilmour-esque guitar passage is raising the level quite substantially. The closing section is an ocean of Banks oriented keys: very pleasant indeed, but I have heard these lines maybe a hundred times already?

The excellent instrumental "Reality Fades" holds some fabulous guitar passages: melodic to death, crafted a shell: in one word gorgeous. Splendid. Exceptional. At times, this Dutch band really sounds great during this album.

This work is a major improvement in comparison to their weak debut and average sophomore album. The title track is again very symptomatic of the whole feeling: superb guitar but average (mellow) vocals. Just too bad?

Still: it is a good compromise between neo and symph (this is the first of their efforts that can be partially referenced as symphonic IMHHO). The final section holds very much of the great "Afterglow" from who you should know.

"Pendragon" lovers should be delighted with these superb and so moving guitar solo. A fine album; three stars.

Report this review (#256336)
Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars For the most part, this group sounds like a generic neo-progressive band. Worse than being generic, this album seems to be downright derivative in many places. On the upside, the lead guitar is wonderful and by far the best thing this album has to offer. However, the vocals are horrendous- not due to the singer's natural voice, but due to how he uses it. He tries to evoke a snarling, angst-ridden character, like blending Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters and cranking up the theatrics. When they are quiet, they are barely audible; when they are loud, they are atrocious. The rest of the band is decent, but do nothing remarkable throughout the duration of the record.

"Daydreamer's Nightmare" Delicate, dreamy classical guitar, sitar, and synthesizer drift into more explosive music that remains steady, introducing a thick guitar solo. A soft verse brings in heavier music and sounds quite like early Marillion without the pizzazz. Although this song has an exceptional vocal melody, it isn't excellently executed (though it isn't done poorly); still, this is easily the strongest composition, with several great instrumental moments- the main guitar solo really shines.

"Time Will Tell" Ninety seconds in is a segment that is almost a carbon copy of the beginning of the verse of "Machine Messiah" by Yes, right down to the bass run. This lengthy piece relies heavily on various keyboard solos, including synthesizer and electric piano. I think the guitar solo is expertly crafted and works extremely well over the music. With a rather shoddy transition, the music turns into something right out of the notebook of 1973 Pink Floyd, which dully drags on until an upbeat synthesizer-led conclusion takes over.

"Love And Beyond" Simple piano and soft vocals make up this slow-dance prom song, which is interrupted by a decent guitar solo.

"Reality Fades" This is a fairly lackluster instrument with some enjoyable guitar lead, but not much else.

"Beyond Reality" Gorgeous piano opens this track, which includes some tasty electric guitar. The intro drops off, bringing in acoustic guitar and singing. Otherwise, the song is several minutes of utter cheese. The singer even adopts this Roger Daultry-like grit in his voice, and his singing "I will survive" makes me chuckle.

"Voyager" Relying heavily on synthesizers, the final track has a Supertramp-like sound, with a keyboard hammering out the chords and a quirky lead vocal, but does develop into something heavier, with Uriah Heep-like shrieks. The track is mostly one extended guitar solo, however, with some uninteresting music backing it. The guitar itself is great though- the player really channels Steve Hackett. Still, the overall piece borders on monotony.

Report this review (#256849)
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars One great moment of symphonic prog waitng for you in -MANGROVE- "BEYOND REALITY" !!! The music is very outstanding, changing the sounding atmopheres to heavly for softly and serenity towards euphoria. Showing strongly influences originating from the prog movemment of the 70's, remembering bands like Eloy, Styx, Genesis, Pink Floyd etc...bring to our minds some nostalgia,.mixing styles such like symphonic (mainly), heavy, space and neo prog. The vocalist seems like Dennis de Young from Styx and plays guitar with a mix of the styles of David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Steve Hackett (Genesis). The other musicians are also fantastic and complete the band with competence. The best tracks are 1 , 2 and 5, with highlight from the 2nd !!! My rate is 5 stars !!!
Report this review (#277168)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The album opens with two fairly long tracks, 'Daydreamers Nightmare' and 'Time Will Tell', and while I am not generally a great fan of epics numbers I have to say that these pieces are both very well crafted and have sufficient variety to keep the interest going.

From the outset the style of the album shows itself to be smooth, deeply melodic and wonderfully fluid. Throughout there are subtle changes of moods between quieter and more strident passages but always the music is very inspiring and uplifting. The listener will enjoy the mix of soaring guitar work backed by a solid rhythm section with keys used to equally good effect whether in a lead role or simply providing a dramatic backdrop for guitar and vocals.

There are times during both of these opening numbers where the keyboard work does tend to get a bit on the twiddly side, almost akin to early Marillion, but it would be simplistic to think of 'Beyond Reality' in terms of yet another Neo-prog offering for the use of this style of playing comes across as more of a nod to what has gone before rather than being the backbone of the album, and I have to say it sounds really rather fresh and inviting in this environment. The added pop overtones in the second track, with vocals that reminded me of A.C.T. at their best, was also most welcome adding another new edge to the bands rich sound.

Having rolled off two long numbers Mangrove go on to prove that they are equally at home writing slow ballads as we move into the gentler restrained tones of 'Love and Beyond'. This opens with vocals supported by soft piano work, building up gradually with superb IQ like guitar work before bringing things back down to earth once more for a very restrained finish. This really is a top notch track that I could listen to again and again.

Next up is 'Reality Fades' which is a solely instrumental number. Here guitar and keyboards vie for attention underpinned by some fine bass and guitar work in what proves to be a most pleasing and somewhat anthem piece.

The title track, 'Beyond Reality', is a mid length track with a lot going for it. Opening with a soft piano introduction the guitar and bass quickly cut injecting some power before cutting back to vocals and acoustic guitar. Instrumental breaks allow for injection of some very emotive guitar work, which manages to impress without the need to go over the top. As the track progresses additional layers build up producing a fuller, richer sound while the vocals take on a more classic rock style.

'Voyager' is another longer number which brings proceedings to a very satisfactory conclusion and once again everything you could want is here. Atmosphere, drama, passion - the music really is magnificent and leaves you on a real high. The only thing to do at this point is to go back and listen to it all over again!

The packaging is as ever superb in that the booklet provided is professionally produced with excellent art work. One criticism I do have however is that the lyrics are all printed in mirror image. While this is an amusing novelty initially it quickly becomes more than just a little irritating if you want to read the lyrics while listening to the songs, particularly if you don't happen to have a mirror handy!

With this album Mangrove have continued to build on their past work while at the same time they have taken giant strides towards creating a unique sound that is truly their own.

From a musical point of view there honestly is nothing I failed to like about this album, my only concern now is where on earth can the band go from here? I don't know the answer to that question but I sure look forward to finding out!

This really is a band that continues to go from strength to strength and I am hugely impressed with this release - for all progressive rock fans I would urge you to check it out!

Very highly recommended! 5 Stars

Report this review (#627906)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 2001 they released their first demo-CD entitled Massive Hollowness. Soon after the recording sessions Chris Jonker (a fellow Tron-maniac) became the new keyboardist, a huge asset. In this line-up Mangrove released the album Touch Wood as an own production in 2004, followed by Facing The Sunset in 2005 and the 2-CD Coming Back To Live in 2006 (it contains strong renditions of songs from their 3 studio-albums). Beyond Reality from 2009 was Mangrove their third and unfortunately final effort. I was lucky to witness the band as a support-act for USA band Echolyn and pleasantly surprised about their strong performance. They presented their new album Beyond Reality, by far their most mature effort.

Listening to Beyond Reality I notice how easily Mangrove switches from a bombastic 24-carat symphonic rock sound to a more polished and even song-oriented approach. This reminds me strongly of other Dutch band Kayak their Seventies sound. For example.

A surprising shifting mood from neo-prog to early Floyd with piano, slide-guitar and Hammond organ and finally a compelling symphonic rock sound with vintage keyboards and sensitive guitar in Time Will Tell.

From progressive pop to howling guitar with breathtaking choir-Mellotron drops and a splendid bombastic grand finale featuring all symphonic rock elements in the titletrack.

And from a polished sound with catchy rhythms to another strong grand finale with a strongly build-up guitar solo and lush choir-Mellotron in the final composition Voyager.

But Mangrove also delivers a fine ballad entitled Love And Beyond: sensitive guitar and piano with warm vocals, followed with a slow rhythm featuring howling guitar and floods of Hammond organ.

My best impression of Mangrove is when they are fully playing in the 24-carat symphonic rock tradition. Like the varied and dynamic, IQ-like Reality Fades with omnipresent fat synthesizer flights along delicate classical orchestrations with moving guitar work, a break with a wonderful Hammond and Moog sound and a dreamy part with soaring church organ, what a fantastic composition! And the first track Daydreamer's Nightmare, an epic of 15 minutes: it's layered with shifting moods, breaks and strong musical ideas, it contains a captivating tension between dreamy parts with classical guitar or piano and melancholical vocals and bombastic parts with heavy keyboards and howling guitar runs. The colouring by vintage keyboards (Hammond, Moog and Mellotron) is great and in the end the music culminates into very bombastic with lush keyboards and sensitive electric guitar, I am in Prog Heaven by Mangrove their trademark sound!

In my opinion this Mangrove sounds very tasteful, melodic and accessible. For those reasons it will appeal to a wide progrock audience, 'thumbs up' for this promising Dutch progrock band that unfortunately has disbanded.

Report this review (#1915663)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2018 | Review Permalink

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