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US

Neo-Prog • Netherlands


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US picture
US biography
Dutch outfit US was founded in 1998. However, their history goes back to 1975. At that point in time Jos Wernars (guitars), Paul van Velzen (drums) and Ernest Wernars (bass) started playing in a cover band together. In time they felt like writing their own material too, and with symphonic rock as the chosen musical territory Dutch outfit Saga was formed, and kept it going until 1983.

Then in 1998 Ernest got a creative tingle while listening to a Genesis record, and when he got in touch with Paul later that year and heard that he still enjoyed playing the desire to create and play music again awakened in full. Jos wasn't that keen on taking up music again initially, but one day in 1999 he showed up at one of Ernest and Paul's music sessions, bringing with him a bass and a 12-string guitar. From that point onwards, every Friday evening was scheduled for music - playing, composing and recording. A demo, named The Wizzard of Us, was recorded on a pretty basic digital 8-track system. When the band also started visiting a more proper recording studio from time to time, it didn't take long for the trio to have a desire to record their own material in a more professional manner.

Joined by Peter de Frankrijker (guitars) this lead to the recording and release of US debut album A Sorrow In Our Hearts in 2002.

Next up was to create a recording studio of their own; and with some time, sweat and lots of effort Paul's garage was turned into a studio, with a 24 track harddisk recorders and accompanying bells, whistles and a few gizmos too.

With a new member in place as well, Stephan Christiaans (vocals), everything was set for the creation of US sophomore effort, issued in 2003 as Eamon's Day. The CD was well received, and sold a pleasant amount of copies too. Towards the tail end of the year US were invited to be the opening act of Dutch symphonic rock festival Progfarm, and although a rewarding experience it was decided that the band would have their main focus on recording rather than touring.

In February 2004 new recording sessions started, and the bands third effort The Ghost Of Human Kindness was the result, released later the same year. On this album their sound was markedly heavier in expression than previously; and to this day this is the heaviest sounding effort by the band.

But just after this US split up. Paul moved, Peter took up studying and Stephan became to immersed in running his shop, leaving just Jos and Ernest...
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US discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

US top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.87 | 18 ratings
A Sorrow In Our Hearts
2002
4.10 | 12 ratings
Eamon's Day
2003
3.32 | 10 ratings
The Ghost of Human Kindness
2004
3.51 | 15 ratings
The Young And Restless
2006
3.00 | 9 ratings
Reflections
2007
2.53 | 12 ratings
Climbing Mount Improbable
2008
2.95 | 13 ratings
Everything Changes
2009
2.10 | 15 ratings
Feeding The Crocodile
2010
2.83 | 13 ratings
The Road Less Travelled
2011

US Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

US Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

US Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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US Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Climbing Mount Improbable by US album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.53 | 12 ratings

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Climbing Mount Improbable
US Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars When ''Reflections'' was released the Wernars brothers had already started working on their sixth album, which would be named ''Climbing mount improbable'', the work which meant to be the last featuring Ernest Wernars in the line-up.Marijke Wernars helps out on vocals for yet another Us release and the band kept using the Joris ten Eussens name for the drumming duties, although they still had to program the drums themselves.The album came out in April 2008 as a private production.

In the fullness of time the Dutch duo reached its bottom with this effort, from which the beautiful front cover and the ability of the composer Jon Wernars to produce decent, progressive suites are to be kept.Five compositions for a full hour of music, containing three tracks over 10 minutes long, still revisiting the classic GENESIS, YES and maybe early KING CRIMSON sound, but the recording quality problems start to bury the ideas of Us, which still remained interesting and intricate.The bad sound of drums, the fake sounds of the Mellotron and even some questionable bass lines start to become trully disturbing.Moreover throughout this labyrinth of thin sounds the lead vocals come as a hitting stone.Some albums need to be played by a normal group to sound good and ''Climbing mount improbable'' is one of these cases.Too bad, because noone can deny that there is some serious talent in here, the tracks are long, elaborate and pretty symphonic with changing moods and a wide instrumental variety, keeping the ongoing Dutch Prog scene alive and well.The best parts appear to be some great, GENESIS-styled electric melodies and solos, while the organ and synthesizer moves do sound more natural, despite some neurotic themes and solos.Structurally the pieces are still at a good level with multiple variations and a vast palette of symphonic and Neo Prog colors.But the synthetic and eventually weak instrumental selection has hurt the overall result next to a very false voice.

I would prefer this album to have come out in an instrumental version, while the instrumental armour should have been kept to reduced and more natural pieces.Neo/Symphonic Prog fans should still find something to like in here despite the obvious flaws, but overall this work seems like a black hole in the band's strong backcatalogue.

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 Reflections by US album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.00 | 9 ratings

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Reflections
US Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Heading towards the fifth studio album, Us' core started to become instable.Ernest Wernars started having doubts about the project's viablility due to lack of money and the mixed reviews the band was receiving.Even this way Us managed to finish the album ''Reflections'', another family affair of Jos and Ernest Wernars (again with Marijke Wernars in some vocal parts), released in 2007.

The bad vibrations around the project's future seem to have had an impact in the inspirational section, as ''Reflections'' is definitely the weakest album of Us so far, still not weak enough not to qualify as a good album.Split in three mid-length compositions and three long epics, the Dutch duo offers again elaborate, lush arrangements with definite GENESIS leanings, however the sound of the programmed drums starts really to become annoying.Combined with the vocals, which were never Us' strong point, these make up the most negative factors of ''Reflections'', possibly along with the lack of some trully striking melodies.On the other hand the experience of Wernars' brothers led them to compose well-crafted and interesting pieces with a balanced sound and some really captivating themes.The new album follows the same receipt the group proposed over the years, muddy and old-fashioned Neo/Symphonic Progressive Rock, full of organ , Mellotron and synth runs and some lovely HACKETT-ish guitar lines.While the atmosphere follows mainly a mellow path, there are also plenty of bombastic explosions with a grandiose instrumental delivery to keep the listener's attention.Changing climates and sudden breaks are always in the menu, leading from intense and rich textures to more vocal-based and lyrical passages.

Us seem to pass over a dangerous crossroad at this point.Their work remains qualitive and interesting, but some of the magic is lost somewhere during the process.Anyway, this is not their strongest effort, but it has major possibilities to satisfy any fan of Classic-styled Progressive Rock.

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 Feeding The Crocodile by US album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.10 | 15 ratings

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Feeding The Crocodile
US Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

2 stars actually 2.5

US is a dutch prog rock band with quite a prolific career in terms of releasing albums, since 2002 when first album appear they release each year an album. In 2010 comes feeding the crocodile. Well, I had hard times listning to this album, not because is overall really bad, but lacks big time in captivating moments and inventive passagaes. If Eamon's day or Young and restless was very fine albums who I've rated 4 stars, this one is a let down in any aspect. Only 3 pieces, the title track had nearly 45 min in lengh and is almost a total waste. Only two musicians here remains from the previous albums, Jos Wernars responsable for all instrumetal arrangements here and Marijke on voice. Some good moments can be found aswell on title track, specialy on instrumental parts, some symphonic prog with neo touches but quite far from the great albums bands release prior to this one. This type of prog can be listned in the back ground, few minor highlights as I said in instrumental passages but overall is terrible to digest and even boring and chaotic, The Greatest Show On Earth is boring like hell. 2-2.5 stars. I like this band, so if you want tot discove their highlights try Eamon's day or Young and restless, to me their best albums for sure.

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 The Young And Restless by US album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.51 | 15 ratings

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The Young And Restless
US Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 2005 Us had to face some major problems.Singer Stephan Cristiaans and guitarist Peter de Frankrijker decided to leave the band, while drummer Paul van Velzen started to lose interest in the project during the recording process of the upcoming fourth album.However Jos and Ernest Wernars decided to finish the album on their own forces (with the help of Marijke Wernars in some vocal parts).They even evented fantasy drummer Joris ten Eussens, so Us would seem as a normal band to the public, but actually the duo recorded the drum parts all by themselves.The fourth title of their catalogue was the 2006 self-produced CD ''The Young And Restless''.

And the truth is the Wernars duo did it pretty well.''The Young And Restless'' is definitely their darkest-sounding effort so far, a 56-min. tight long suite divided in 14 short parts with only a few interruptions between the tracks.Additionally it is also their most retro- and symphonic-inclined release with the Neo Prog influence a bit limited compared to the previous albums.To the music, ''The young and the restless'' holds a perfect balance between instrumental passages and vocal parts.It is a very well-structured and executed composition with epic keyboard deliveries and strong HACKETT-like guitar chops along with the always deep bass sound of Jos Wernars.Synthesizers, organ and mellotron parts dominate the album in series of atmospheric and powerful arrangements with a fair dose of changing climates and Jos' guitar lines range from the smooth GENESIS' performance to some huge electric explosions in the vein of IQ or COLLAGE.Especially the later guitar parts supported by the massive keyboard attacks are what make the album really dark regarding its atmosphere.On the other hand the male vocals are mediocre, sometimes sounding out of tune and without some needed color delivered by an experienced singer, while the drums sound a bit mechanical at moments, though the Wernars' did a pretty good work on this section.The soft acoustic textures remain a strong element of Us music and add the appropriate breath among the symphonic arrangements.

All in all this is another very good Us production.If these majestic instrumental passages were next to a better voice we would talk about a trully excellent work.But even this way the album deserves a relatively high rating and a strong recommendation...3.5 stars.

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 The Ghost of Human Kindness by US album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.32 | 10 ratings

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The Ghost of Human Kindness
US Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars With ''Eamon's day'' US finally seem to draw some attention.The album sold well and the they even performed live for just the second time on the Dutch festival Progfarm in 2003.However the band prefered to enter again their own ''B'SUS'' studios in February 2004 than tour on road, recording the material Jos Wernars wrote for an upcoming third release.The new album ''The Ghost of Human Kindness'' was privately presses the same year.

Here US follow the same receipt with ''Eamon's day'': Three long epics ranging from 14 to 20 minutes and two a bit shorter cuts at around 8 minutes, definitely enough time to fully develop your ideas.Apart from the album's structure, the sound has not changed dramatically either.The compositions follow their familiar Neo/Symphonic Rock matrix with some strong GENESIS and YES influences throughout, where more complex and grandiose electric parts meet often with soft acoustic passages along with Stephan Cristiaans' warm voice.The Wernars' duo-combination on keyboards and guitars remains the highly driving force of the quintet.The long HACKETT-ish impressive soloing along with the symphonic grandieur through Ernest's flashy keyboards and pianos are US' trademarks and please add the great and dynamic bass work of Jos in the vein of YES' CHRIS SQUIRE.The arrangements are very tight and well-crafted with a good alternation between softness, melody and a fair amount of complexity.The final eponymous track is propably the stand out piece of the album with some majestic melodies to be heard.

Another strong release by US, far from trully original as always, but close to the preferences of any devoted Symphonic Rock fan.Strongly recommended with a special appeal to fans of GENESIS, YES or even IQ...3.5 stars.

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 The Road Less Travelled by US album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.83 | 13 ratings

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The Road Less Travelled
US Neo-Prog

Review by maryes

3 stars 3,5 stars really. I confess , when I heard for the first time this release, I was a litle awesome and trying to forget the previous albun from US "Feeding the Crocodile" which I consider a very displeasing work. and I become posetively surprise whith this "The Road Less Travelled" whereas if the band not reach the same level than "A Sorrow in our Hearts", "The Ghost of the Human Kindness" & "The Youing and The Restless" at least seems to recover part of their "magic". The albun in itself is full of beautiful moments like the bass guitar arrangements in the Track 1 "The Road Less Travelled", the acoustic guitar introduction in the track 2 "The Sign Of Our Times " with a certain Arabic "fragance", the keyboards work in the Track 3 "Days Of Wonder" and the very well balanced use of all instruments in track 4 "Shadowland" a symphonic prog in Genesis and Yes "vein". My rate is 3 stars !!!

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 The Road Less Travelled by US album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.83 | 13 ratings

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The Road Less Travelled
US Neo-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A labor of love

Jos Wernars has been creating music alone and with others since the 1970s, and "The Road Less Traveled" is his most recent under the project named US. This album is a one-man project, the only assistance coming in the form of harmony vocals from his wife Marijke Wernars. He had been working with his brother Ernest who had to stop around 2008 after some health issues. Rather than quit Wernars decided to soldier on alone in pursuit of his musical passion. To me US sounds somewhere between neo-prog and classic 70s symphonic on the "sweeter" side, ala bands like Surprise, Rousseau, and Druid. There is also an undeniable Genesis influence here, Banks and Hackett mostly. A modern reference would be the neo-prog band Yleclipse. Let me get my criticism out of the way first. This is a release with a less than first tier production. It has the sound of a hobbyist musician recording in his home studio, with a drum machine, and occasionally some thin-sounding parts. It does not sound like your next Porcupine Tree or Opeth album in terms of fullness and fidelity. If those kinds of recordings bother you then approach with some caution. It really doesn't bother me, I can enjoy an album with less-than-perfect production if I like the music. In fact there are times when such productions are refreshing as you can enjoy the music without the overwhelming volume/density of some recordings. I see both sides on that one.

With that out of the way on to the important part...the music! The album's 57 minutes span across only four songs, the twenty minute title track and three others in the twelve minute range, so each piece has that prog-epic feel. Wernars is a talented man despite being short changed in personnel and perhaps equipment. The songs are wonderfully rich (if a bit sweet) and each with many different moods and mystical feeling passages. Melodic keyboard work is everywhere with solid Howe/Hackett inspired (I would guess) lead guitar frequently soaring over the hills. The bass playing reminded me of Squire sometimes the way he was drubbing it in an often forceful, jubilant manner. Acoustic guitars also play a large role in setting up some songs and creating some nice strummed sections with the harmony vocals over them. The beginning of "The Sign of our Times" is very impressive with a monster acoustic solo backed by gorgeous synth play, soon followed by some aggressive lead guitar lines and uplifting vocals-my favorite track. Neither Jos or Marijke are hugely exceptional vocalists but they work very well together and their harmonies were nice. It is the lack of solid drummer on real drums that holds the project back unfortunately, I can tolerate the production fine, but the drum machine hampers my enjoyment. Still, despite the problems with the sound/drum machine here I enjoy this very personal "labor of love" as Wernars describes it. It's an intimate recording with some very lovely and majestic moments.

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 Eamon's Day by US album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.10 | 12 ratings

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Eamon's Day
US Neo-Prog

Review by Monte

5 stars This is an excellent album. This was the first US CD I obtained and I was very impressed with Sea Song (the best), Eamon's Day and also Life in Progress. The singer was a bit different as far as the sound of his voice but after awhile you get used to it and actually like the way he sounds.

In any case, this is a very strong album. It was strong enough to get me to order right away 5 of their other CDs. Unfortunately all of the rest were mediocre and a bit boring. These were: A Sorrow in Our Hearts, The Ghost of Human Kindness (although there is one good song on this CD - "Full Circle"), The Young and the Restless, Reflections and Climbing Mount Improbable.

My recommendation, for what it is worth, is listen to Eamon's Day and buy it - very good progressive rock and very unique. Skip all the rest.

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 Feeding The Crocodile by US album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.10 | 15 ratings

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Feeding The Crocodile
US Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The so far final album from this pretty odd Dutch neo-prog band.

I have got all their albums and I have reviewed them all. It is fair to say that Us is one of a kind band. A duo, no less. Some of their albums is great. Other albums are merely decent. Listening to them all is like a visit to the local tivoli.

This time, Us has also got a new vocalist. A female vocalist with the name Marijke. She is related to the main vocalist, btw. She and Jos is the only musicians listed here. See my interview for more details. Her vocals gives the band something extra, but her vocals is not very impressive. She is not Kate Bush, to put it in nice words.

Feeding The Crocodile is their most ambitious album so far with the forty-three minutes long title track and a couple of minor tracks to back up the title track. I get the feeling that the band has put everything they got onto this album. This is their 2112.

You really have to have something special if you makes a forty minutes plus track. Us has some good ideas and they almost pulls it off. But not quite. I am not sure if they are fools or brave to even attempt a forty minutes long neo-prog track with one man playing all the instruments. It is like going to the moon, naked. The instrumentation leaves a lot to be desired. But there are still some good ideas here so I am not going to cold shoulder this track.

The other two tracks has some good ideas too and is pretty good. There is no denying that their sound is an aquired taste and my final verdict probably reflects that I have gotten used to it and that I find some pleasures in their music. So too in this album. Their lyrics is pretty cringe worthy at times and the vocals is their achilles heel. But this is a good album and that is all I can say. I hope this band will return again for their 9th album. Preferable with a full band.

3 stars

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 Everything Changes by US album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.95 | 13 ratings

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Everything Changes
US Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The seventh album from Us continues on the same track as their previous six albums.

Us produce and play some pretty basic symphonic neo-prog. Their songs are long, but not particular technical. Us does not really impresses in the uber-tech department. They relies more on the art of creating good tunes. They use tonnes of keyboards and guitars to do this. That and some samples of symphonic orchestras. Their recording budgets are minimal so I guess the symphonic orchestra pieces here are keyboard created. With their budgets, I doubts they could even afford the Mongolian Symphony Orchestra. But the symphonic orchestra bits sounds great so no complaints from me here.

The main problem Us has is the rather tired vocals. Something I have now pointed out in my reviews of their previous albums too. The instrumentation are good and even great at places.

The songs are good, with the exception of the rather minimalistic and cringe worthy lyrics on the opening epic The Rules Of The Game. But the other songs are good.

There is nothing really bad or good to be said about this album. Those into minimalistic neo- prog should lap this album up. Most people will like this album, but not adore it. It is a good album and that's it.

3 stars

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Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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