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NINE PATHS

Knight Area

Neo-Prog


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5 stars It was not whether, but when the Dutch band Knight Area would make a good step forward. After three acclaimed albums, it was time the band would renew and thereby show that they're serious about their commitment to make each album better. With 'Nine Paths' the band has gone the right way...

The opening track 'Ever Since You Killed Me' captures the listener from the first tones. Sturdy and quiet sections follow one another without a hitch in this nearly 10-minute composition. The song sets the tone for an album full of varied progressive rock.

For the first time not all the music is written by keyboardist Gerben Klazinga. Gijs Koopman delivered with 'The River' a little masterpiece, which also can be said of Angel's call, a song written by Mark Smit. Most notable track is surely 'The Balance'. The first three minutes are sampled, to be followed by a stunning finale.

'Nine Paths' shows the progress of Knight Area in every way. The compositions are strong and all the band members seemed to have increased the bond with their instruments. The keyboard parts by Gerben Klazinga are very strong, Mark Vermeule (guitars) excels as never before, the bass tones of Gijs Koopman come to full advantage and Pieter van Hoorn's strikes on the drums form a solid surface.

Really notable on Nine Paths are the strong vocals of Mark Smith. He seems to have more skills, is more daring, and shows more feelings in his voice.

Nine Paths is in every aspect better than its predecessor. While 'Realm of Shadows' sometimes was too bombastic and even sounded occasionally forced, 'Nine Paths' is a one-piece album that will be better every time you listen to it. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to gertjanvm (BETA) | Report this review (#546536)
Posted Sunday, October 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
3 stars I could experience a KNIGHT AREA live show in December 2008 and was impressed with their top-notch performance. Thus I noticed with curiosity that they had produced a new album, released on Lasers Edge again. Headed by keyboarder Gerben Klazinga the line-up remained stable throughout, this also applies to the traditional symphonic/neo prog orientation music-wise. Consisting of nine pieces the song collection represents a mix of uptempo rocking songs and ballads as usual. The music of 'Nine Paths' is complemented by the fantasy art of graphic designer Dennis Sibeijn (Damn Engine) who also creates the artwork for other prog bands.

KNIGHT AREA try to implement new impressions, some songs like Summerland and The Balance add a harder touch to the overall impression, predominantly caused by Mark Vermeule's nearly metal edged guitar. And the ballad Please Come Home shows Charlotte Wessels of symphonic metal band Delain making a guest appearance. The duet with singer Mark Smit gets close to a mainstream essence though, hence does not belong to the outstanding exemplars for what it's worth, although a nice guitar solo is implemented towards the end.

Ever Since You Killed Me otherwise marks an entertaining start - the forceful bass is striking at first. In the tried and tested way energetic and charming segments are alternating - bombast keyboards, expressive guitar and vocals - this are the main ingredients for a successful prog tune. The River is something extraordinary too due to the given dynamics, starting as a ballad but - headed by a soloing synthesizer - switching to an uptempo behaviour later. Speaking of dynamics and variations I would also count Angel's Call to the winners here.

'Nine Paths' is a proper album with highs and lows, technically flawless in any case. The compositions are certainly solid, Smit's vocals are formidable. However I can't say that I'm really hooked overall, be it that I'm missing extraordinarily catchy melodies or can't detect significantly new innovative elements. Nonetheless this album is a pleasant find for a listener who is feeling comfortable on the common symphonic/neo progressive border.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#549039)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The fourth studio album from these Dutch neo-proggers.

And Neo-Prog this is. That is; of the more commercial, songs orientated kind. There is no big ELP like excesses here. No epics or symphonies. This despite of two long songs which clocks in at around ten minutes each. There are also a female lead vocals here in the Magenta like Please Come Home. The vocals is by Delain's vocalist Charlotte Wessels. This is a very good song which adds a lot of spice to this album. But the main vocals on the rest of the album is done by Mark Smit. He is a great vocalist and the same goes for the other musicians. Great musicians, all of them.

The quality of the material here is good throughout. I am failing to drum up any enthusiasm for an album which is so standard neo-prog that it almost becomes generic. Neo prog with some heavy guitars inbetween the keyboard runs. This is not bad by any standards. But neither does it enthuse me in any kind or form. This is an album the neo-prog enthusiasts will love and the rest of us will like.

3 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#549462)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Knight Area is one of those bands that had a kind of humble start, with a good, but a bit immature and derivative debut CD. But what seemed initially to be a second league group did grow and fulfilled the initial promise like very few other artists did. So much so I was wondering if they could keep the pace, since their last two albums were quite impressive, specially the powerful live double set Rising Signs From The Shadows (2010). So I approoached Nine Paths with great care and tried not to expect too much. Fortunatly I found out I had nothing to fear. This dutch band is definitly at their best moment and this is Kinght Areaás best album so far.

Since the very first moments I heard from the 10 minute opener Eversince You Killed Me I had the feeling I was listening to one of those brilliant records you only find rarely. It is ok that this group is surely the "song oriented" kind of prog, but I see nothing wrong with it. Much on the contrary. I don´t like pointless experimentalisms or too much noodling. Here you can see the musicians are good, but they are also fine songwriters and team players. They use their fine technique for the sake of the music, not to show off. And it is not everyday you hear such fine collection of tunes that are at the same time pleasant, melodic and powerful. Every song on Nine Paths is perfect: not a single note is wasted, everything fits right in. The arrangements are tasteful, the guitar and keys timbres are great and their songwriting skills are simply awesome. The CD is also helped by the excellent production.

There are no highlights on the album. Those guys were inspired! It is one of those records you can hear from start to finish without skipping a single moment. All the tracks are excellent, without exception. Even the simple love ballad Please Come Home (with Delains´singer Charlotte Wessels guesting on vocals) is done with such care and feeling you can not help but love it. Alongside with their dutch fellows of Flamborough Head, Knight Area is probably one of the bands that has evolved the most both as a group and as songwriters. And, more important, they have found their very own sound. Nowadays they sound like no one else.

If you like progressive rock like it used to be (i.e. complex and elaborated, yet accessible and melodic), Nine Paths is an excellent pick. One of the best records from 2011.

Final ratings: 4,5 stars

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#562110)
Posted Friday, November 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A great album, follow its path!

This is the fourth studio album by Dutch neo-progressive band Knight Area, an album that I suggest listening to at least three times, in order to have a true good experience. It comprises nine compositions and a total time of one hour of high quality music. Don't prejudge about the musical genre (Neo), you better listen to it and then tell me what you think.

The first track is "Ever Since You Killed Me"; what a title for the opener track, and what an opener track. This is actually the longest song of the album, a challenging composition with a fabulous bass sound and a hypnotizing keyboard touch. The first three minutes are intense and bombastic, then the track slows down, the voice enters and a mellow guitar repeats its acoustic notes, while the electric contributes with a disarming sound. This rhythm continues until the sixth minute, and then an emotional sound appears. This is a fantastic track!

"Summerland" starts with a bombastic sound full of keyboards, with constant drums, softer bass notes and accurate guitars. A couple of minutes later vocals enter, and this time I would not praise them, because in moments the track reminds me to some 80s hard rock bands (I repeat, just in moments).The song is pretty nice overall, with good changes in time and mood. Nice piano sound after five minutes and a wonderful guitar riff in the last minute.

"Please Come Home" is a ballad-like track, with a charming sound and the guest female voice of Charlotte Wessels. The song is pretty catchy, easily enjoyable, and with a nice guitar solo in the final part. "Clueless" is another short track with a catchy sound. This is not a ballad like the previous, but it has an easy structure, with a chorus to sing and a total neo- prog sound. Not bad at all, I actually like it a lot, but it surely is not their best composition.

"The River" starts very interesting but after a minute it slows down, creating a mellow and gentle sound, with cool bass notes and great keyboards, as usual. Though the structure may be repetitive, it is actually addictive, so you will easily feel part of the track. After five minutes there is a long keyboard passage in which you can imagine a lot of things, like being on a trip, flying or something like that. The song finishes just as it begun. Great one!

"Pride and Joy" is the shortest track. A fast and adventurous instrumental song with cool guitar and keyboard solos, good drums and repetitive but hypnotizing bass lines. I love Gijs Koopman bass style. With "The Balance" I realized that the voice has a similar style to Frank Bornemann (Eloy), though the band's sound has actually nothing to do with it. The first part of this track is not really my favorite, I feel it repetitive and even empty, very organic; but after three and a half minutes when keyboards appear it gives a new direction, louder, more emotional, much more interesting. The final three minutes are worth repeating.

"Wakerun" is a great track that should be easily loved by neo-prog fans. I love that intercalation between keyboard and guitars, and how that bass sound cannot pass unnoticed. Just before the third minute, the song makes a sudden change, introducing acoustic guitar, keyboard as background, drums and then bass. The sound and rhythm are increasing little by little, creating a wonderful and captivating passage, in which we will listen to adventurous and exciting music.

The album finishes with "Angel's Call", which is another long and challenging composition. It starts with a delicate piano which seconds later is joined by guitar. After two minutes there is a second of stillness, and then a new sound is being developed, with the same piano, voice and a synth as background creating a baleful atmosphere. Later the song changes once again, the sound increases for moments, but only in order to slow down again. The acoustic guitar is pretty good, and the bass always wonderful. The song has a mixture of elements, rhythms and emotions, it is really rich in every sense. A great way to finish this excellent album!

Knight Area's new album is a must have for neo-prog fans, and a recommendation to any progressive rock follower; though it is not a flawless album, it has wonderful moments, well-crafted songs that I truly enjoyed, that is why my final grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#567536)
Posted Sunday, November 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Nine Paths' - Knight Area (8/10)

Despite 'Nine Paths' being their fourth studio release to date, I have never heard of Knight Area before, and this album has proved to be something of an introduction for me to the group's music. This melodic trend in prog rock has been around for quite a while, and as any dedicated progger will tell you; there is a wide range of opinions that fans have about this. All the same, Knight Area approaches their sound confidently, and churns out an impressive batch of songs, or 'paths' here.

A lively performance and diverse host of songwriting makes 'Nine Paths' a rather consistently enjoyable album from start to finish. 'Ever Since You Killed Me' introduces Knight Area in a very complimentary fashion; they introduce the album with a powerful 'overture' that frames the rest of the album beautifully. From the start, Knight Area's greatest strength is clear, that being their performance. In particular, something that makes Knight Area stand out from the legions of other neo-prog acts is the drumming. Pieter van Hoorn's use of the double kick would probably sound more comfortable in a metal setting, but it works so well underneath the melodic synths and upbeat guitars. Throughout the album, the lead guitar is given a few moments to shine, taking the more conventional route via solos, which manage to impress. The least apparent display of Knight Area's excellence are the vocals of Mark Smit, whose first expression minutes into 'Ever Since You Killed Me' made me think this was another fairly run-of-the-mill vocalist of the genre. 'Please Come Home' and the epic 'Angel's Call' indicate otherwise however, with his voice hitting beautiful notes and inducing chills.

Their strength of performance taken into regard, Knight Area's music is still none too original. They do seem to move between quite a few moods and directions within the album, but all of these aspects feel a little too derivative for me. Instrumentally, much of this album screams Marillion, or even Dream Theater's debut. Alas, Knight Area's lack of 'newness' is quite disappointing, considering their great skill and talent as musicians. In terms of actual enjoyment however, I do not believe this hurts the actual appreciation of the music, and I am left with a powerful experience that I will certainly return to, even if it does not seek to shock me.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#572136)
Posted Sunday, November 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Prog Rock for Noobs.

Knight Area's in what I call 'The Little League' of prog rock. Not complicated, not about pyrotechnics; it's about a catchy art cover, it's about a good song, not too long, topped with loud keyboards. Now, they've crossed the threshold of double bass drums and rockier moments. But again, Knight Area is a band that is not taking chances and not really evolving from their (way too easy to spot) influences. Am I gullible?

No. Not this time. They are serving us the same clichés of late 70's (again that Trick of the Tale album!), but this time the few good hooks and solos are not giving me the need to come back on that train.

Easy to digest, often AOR, this album made me take the decision of not renewing my prescription by this Dutch band. Not a bad album by all means, but too light and simple for my taste. I've been this road on the debut of my seeking journey, and I'm not coming back for them.

I'm Out with a capital O but I wish them well.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#584241)
Posted Wednesday, December 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 for sure

Nine Path is the forth album of this already well known band from Holland. Released in 2011 they keep the same formula in composing and aswell line-up remained stable , a very good thing because this way they've always offer solid albums with plenty of memorable passages. This album is almost no diffrent then the predecesors, maybe in places they metalized a little thir sound, the combination of neo prog with almost prog metal is very efficient here, example is Summerland , the beggining of the tune sounds almost like Dream Theater. Very good are the instrumental sections like on The river, great keyboards from Gerben Klazinga, the instrumental Pride and joy is another winner for sure. All in all a worthy album for sure, but I don't think is their best, personaly I like most their second release Under a new sign followed by Realm of shadows, this one Nine path is very close. A solid and quite typical Knight Area album. 3.5 stars is best I can give.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#789890)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink

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