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KNIGHT AREA

Neo-Prog • Netherlands


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Knight Area biography
It may sound odd, but KNIGHT AREA have been an entity for around 20 years; however, 2004 was when people started to really hear and understand them as a band.

Gerben Klazinga, the primary creative force of the band, almost single handedly put together what would be KNIGHT AREA'S debut, The Sun Also Rises. The time until 2003, he operated with a variety of musicians to sort out his musical ideas. Mark Smit (MIRACLE) carried out the leading vocals, Peter van Heijningen and Jeroen Hogenboom (ex-SANGAMO) played the (lead) guitars and Ron van der Bas (what's in a name) from Toyz and the Rickenbacker-wizard Gijs Koopman (ex-CLIFFHANGER) performed the bass parts. Mark van Nieuwenhuizen (ex-SANGAMO) carried out some drum parts. Musical mates like Vincent Frijdal for the acoustic guitar parts and Arjan Groenendijk for the power chord parts helped out in constructing the basic arrangements. Stephanie Lagrande as well donated her talents to the album. Brother Joop is also present with his flute, lyrics and some co-production labor. A concept centering around a boy who is in search for his identity (to some extent an autobiographical saga). Experiences are abundant with a few trials and tribulations; nevertheless he succeeds in discovering a vigorous way to cope with his emotions. The debut was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, thus the band began on a very positive note and even rewarded them with an invite to Nearfest in 2005.

Rather than being essentially a one-man project, the main change to note on this sophomore effort, Under A New Sign, is that KNIGHT AREA are now a 'proper' seven-piece band; this obviously helps give a sense of cohesiveness to proceedings, as well as making it possible for the band to establish themselves as a live act. Carrying on in the spirit of the debut, Under A New Sign (2007) possesses the classic neo progressive characteristics that pays homage to mainstays like Pendragon and IQ. Lush keyboards, whirling song structures that reminds one of 70's Kansas at times, KNIGHT AREA not only did not disappoint, but probably won over new fans and promises to keep producing consistent neo prog that one day could have them mentioned in the same breath with legends of the subgenre.

Eric Walker

Knight Area official website

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HyperdriveHyperdrive
Laser's Edge 2014
Audio CD$9.98
$9.83 (used)
Nine PathsNine Paths
Laser's Edge 2011
Audio CD$9.43
$10.00 (used)
Sun Also RisesSun Also Rises
Laser's Edge 2004
Audio CD$16.40
$8.40 (used)
Realm of ShadowsRealm of Shadows
LASER'S EDGE GROUP 2009
Audio CD$9.03
$16.06 (used)
Under a New SignUnder a New Sign
Laser's Edge 2007
Audio CD$9.72
$8.59 (used)
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KNIGHT AREA discography


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

3.98 | 131 ratings
The Sun Also Rises
2004
3.91 | 150 ratings
Under A New Sign
2007
3.82 | 105 ratings
Realm of Shadows
2009
3.65 | 83 ratings
Nine Paths
2011
3.30 | 38 ratings
Hyperdrive
2014

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

4.51 | 18 ratings
Rising Signs From The Shadows
2011

KNIGHT AREA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

KNIGHT AREA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 8 ratings
Between Two Steps
2013

KNIGHT AREA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hyperdrive by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.30 | 38 ratings

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Hyperdrive
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Back in 2007, Dutch band Knight Area released what I consider to be one of the finest recent Neo Prog albums in `Under a New Sign'. It was loaded with beautiful lengthy symphonic tracks perhaps in the style of the early romantic Pendragon albums, plenty of serene keyboards plied all around and a lively, likeable vocal performance from Mark Smit. There were occasional more straightforward hard rock elements, something that has been on all of the band's albums, but this most recent release, 2014's `Hyperdrive', sees the band ditch much of those progressive sounds, instead focussing on streamlined, reigned in hard rock/heavy AOR with shorter instrumental runs. While thankfully everything is still coated in Gerben Klazinga's sleek synths and new guitarist Mark Bogert's makes a huge impression for his album debut, as strong as the material actually is, some of the band's identity has been lost, leaving them musically sounding a little more anonymous. However, is it a bad album? No, not even close!

The majority of the eleven pieces here run between three and five minutes (only the closer stretches out beyond seven minutes), most following pretty traditional verse/chorus/solos/chorus patterns, which is initially quite a letdown. But give the album a few spins, and it quickly reveals that every piece is loaded with pleasing and strong melodies, memorable punchy arrangements and plenty of terrific playing. Frontman Smit still has a much softer and more pleasing voice than the tougher and usually bellowing hard rock/metal vocalists, making the band more appealing to those not as keen on hard rock/metal bands. Newcomer Bogert displays great variety and skill on guitar, and he fits in perfectly with the long-term members, also more than holding his own even with friendly competition in the form of a musical cameo from Ayreon mastermind Arjen Athony Lucassen!

Looking over the kinds of tracks on offer, you get blasting metal stompers like opener `Afraid of the Dark' and the up-tempo `Crimson Skies' with it's addictive snarling riffs and an Iron Maiden-esque anthemic chorus. Gutsy synth-heavy arena rocker `Avenue of Broken Dream' sounds like a better version of what Asia tried to offer, and the more poppy and groovy `Bubble' has a catchy chorus with a tasty runaway synth solo in the final minute. Choral Mellotron and swirling synths get a real workout all throughout driving rocker `Living in Confusion', and the only instrumental `Stepping Out' is a dynamic guitar showcase for special guest Arjen Anthony Lucassen, with an opening that goes straight to the heart, then burns with plenty of widdly fire in the second half. Album closer `Hypnotised' is overloaded with extended symphonic synth and guitar instrumental passages after it gets a shorter vocal section out of the way early on, with the grandest of epic guitar solos and Pieter van Hoorn's powerhouse drumming to close on.

Several winning power ballads also feature. The lush piano-led `This Day' and it's slightly twee chorus instantly reminds of Anyone's Daughter's self-titled album from 1980, and `The Lost World' has nice backing vocals, chunky bass courtesy of Peter Vink of legendary vintage instrumental proggers Finch, and a tasty Fish-era Marillion-flavoured Moog solo in the finale. But by far the absolute standout of the album is the swooning and gently melancholic piano ballad `Songs from the Past', where Mark adopts a sweeter falsetto vocal, supported by exquisite and intricate backing harmonies that instantly recall the classic early Seventies Queen albums.

While the more adventurous and sophisticated qualities are largely absent this time around for Knight Area, there is absolutely no denying how well written and performed this collection of tunes is. Along with the eye-catching sci-fi artwork and a lavish CD booklet, a lot of effort has gone into producing a strong work, and even though the band is working with more accessible pieces here, if you pay close attention you will still find progressive elements carefully worked in throughout, just in smaller doses! Hopefully the next release will see the group upping the prog scale a little more again, but if you enjoy the band overall (and they do have a great sound), and are perfectly happy to enjoy some hard rocking tunes, `Hyperdive' is very satisfying and worthwhile.

Three stars as a prog album, four stars as a hard rock album!

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 Nine Paths by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.65 | 83 ratings

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Nine Paths
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars On their fourth, Knight Area offer one of the their more adventurous, diverse and maybe less immediate set of songs. This is relatively speaking, of course, this is neo-prog after all, a melodic but stale genre (sometimes mixed with metal, electronica and ethnica, but they don't it here). Still, it is nice to see Knights not resting on their laurels as one of the better and edgier neo-prog bands out there.

Songs for the most part are multi-part, take a while to develop and end with a big instrumental finish. Some highlights. Ever SInce You Killed Me opens with a lush and bombastic overture-type intro before settling in a ballad mode. Summerland follows with an almost-metal like sound. Please come home is a duet, cheesy but inoffensive. Pride and Joy is in a series of Knight Area's show-offy instrumentals confusingly titled after famous blues staples. But the best is saved for last, for Wakerun and Angel's call are the most adventurously structured, a common suite-like structure, yes, but developing in interesting enough ways.

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 Realm of Shadows by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.82 | 105 ratings

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Realm of Shadows
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars I've always found it somewhat stretchy that Knight Area, with their penchant for AOR and old-school arena rock, insisted on being dark, singing about Dark Souls and Antagonies with the devil in disguise. Well, they manage here to be dark, but not in a heavy or depressing way. Songs like Realm of Shadows or Occlusion have more of a sing-along and melancholic tone instead of menacing, with their "shadow world" being more of a fading copy of our reality rather that its dark alternative. If that makes sense. On the other hand, Antagony and A Million Lives (first one rockier, second - slower) have an anthemic arena attribute to them. All in all, while being sure-fire neo-prog, Knight Area still manage to sound like Knight Area, instead of a mere clone of earlier bands.

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 Under A New Sign by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.91 | 150 ratings

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Under A New Sign
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars With their second, a more proper band effort, Knight Area grow in scope and ambition, increasing songs' length to a 7-minute average, growing heavier (Mastermind) and book-ending the album with a 20-minite opus (which actually consists more of a sequence of slowly developing separate parts). The style if typical neo-prog, of course, varying between friendly folksy melodies, 80s-style hard rock and Pink Floydian celestial crescendos, which actually sound quite pounding if played on a high volume. Predictable, but nonetheless enjoyable stuff, a swell all-around effort, with particular mention going to Mark Smits ultra smooth vocals and the epic bass sound. Curiously, the band leader's Gerben Klaizenga's keys don't sound as overpowering as some other comparable keyboardist-led bands.

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 Nine Paths by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.65 | 83 ratings

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Nine Paths
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by steelyhead

4 stars This is the first CD I have of this band and boy! I was very surprised of the music they play. Let's remember that everything now It's a derivative but even in derivatives there are degrees of orginality. This is a record you could use to spin It two or three times just to get the sound travel right throught you and most of the songs are plain perfect but there are some fillers to mention. One of the fillers is the rock ballad "Please come Home" with the feminine touch but there are moments, I swear to God, I was listening to Tony Kaye play like It was still 1972. Check this out It is a mix of Genesis and Dream Theater but you'll enjoy It thoroughly the way I did.

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 The Sun Also Rises by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.98 | 131 ratings

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The Sun Also Rises
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars In 2004, when metal craze was sweeping the Northwestern European school of neo-prog, sound of Netherland's Knight Area (at the time, the keyboardist Gerben Kleizinga's family and friends project) remained footed in the 80s, with its airy guitars, poppy synths and upfront bass. The moods typically range from adult-oriented pop rock to folkish (with flute and accordion) to harder rocking. This music is highly melodic and accesible, yet the 5-minute songs pack a lot of melodic changes. If there's a word to apply to Knight Area here, it's solid. Notghing new under the sun, of course, but albums are invariably pleasant, neither front-loaded nor back-loaded, remarkably even throughout and balanced among the instruments.

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 Hyperdrive by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.30 | 38 ratings

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Hyperdrive
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Every prog band once in a while flirts with streamlining their sound. I've always thought that Knight Area, with their mix of neo-prog, hard rock, AOR, synth-pop and a classical influence here and there, was apt for this kind of crossover. But they managed to surprise me for a couple of albums, still doing 8 to 10-minute romps. Well now they did it. This is a hard rock/AOR album, with singer Mark Smits evoking the huskiness seen in the likes of John Wetton. Afraid of the Dark immediately hits you with a stratospheric, metallic/70s sound with ultramelodic singing. In fact this could be called a hard-rocking version of Asia or Journey, comparable to recent offers by Arena and Threshold. A hard rock that, in line with its adultness, is pompous, slow and stately.

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 Hyperdrive by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.30 | 38 ratings

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Hyperdrive
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I approached the new Knight Area album expecting to hear lushly atmospheric, sometimes melodramatic neo prog songs emphasizing vocals and keyboards. I expected to hear a new release from a band which, even in their more powerful moments often appropriated a form of metal I'd describe as oddly smooth. Those elements are not bad per se, nor are they gone entirely, but there is something very different happening on their latest album Hyperdrive.

I hear a sense of direction and urgency in these compositions that I've not often associated with Knight Area previously. On these songs, guitar riffs and guitar leads are more inspired. The keyboard solos soar with a new sense of vim and vigor. With this set of songs, the band seems to know exactly where they want to take us and they waste precious little time getting down to the business at hand. No wonder they named this album Hyperdrive!

The formula seems to be to alternate up-tempo numbers with ballads. But even the ballads are more tightly focused than in previous releases. Sometimes a majestic or anthemic mood permeates slower tunes to propel them forward. Other times the choruses are catchy enough to invite repetition. Almost always, the solos have a keen sense of forward movement. . Don't get me wrong. This isn't the most progressive music you'll ever hear. But stretching these songs out by slowing them down or padding them with atmospheric pauses wouldn't have made them more progressive. It would have only extended their running time and diluted their impact.

What then is this album? It is a set of high quality rock songs featuring good vocals, tastefully extended melodic (and sometimes a little shreddy) solos with emotionally full and satisfying keyboard infused arrangements.

On Hyperactive, Knight Area are onto something very good. Their songs are more succinct, more visceral and more captivating. The guitar solos are more purposeful, constantly seeking to push the songs forward musically. And all of this is done without the band losing touch with their neo prog roots. When Knight Area get powerful, I still consider their brand of metal to be a rather mellow and melodious one. Even so, they have acquired just enough crunchiness to now be the kind of mellow metal I can really enjoy sinking my teeth into from time to time.

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 Hyperdrive by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.30 | 38 ratings

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Hyperdrive
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars - First Review of this Album -

Hyperdrive to the charts

I recall Knight Area being a melodic Neo-prog band in the vein of IQ; however, "Hyperdrive" would only loosely fit that description, if at all. Album no.5 from the Dutch progsters is rather dynamic, up-tempo and full of hard-rock, guitar driven compositions for the majority of time. It certainly draws from a light neo-prog "aura" as Kalzinga's keyboards dress the sound, but also from modern melodic progressive metal in the style of compositions. Very strong and catchy vocals from Mark Smit who reminds me of Vanden Plas' Andy Kuntz. With very few exceptions, here we are presented with "hit" songs, destined for the hard rock charts, with influences from pop/AOR, even early 90's Helloween (!) and powerful production.

To the above category we can put the dynamite opener, "Crimson Skies" and "Running Away", who are a gear faster that the rest; "Bubble", "Avenue of Broken Dreams", "Living in Confusion" (AOR meets lush keyboards!) and "Hypnotised" belong to the mid-tempo land with the latter being the longer and more varied. Rather unfortunately, a big proportion of the album is devoted to cliche balladry, with "The Lost World" standing out because of its signature opening riff which takes us back to 1976 and The Enid's debut. "Stepping Out" is a league of its own as a short and in-your-face riff-driven instrumental with Ayreon-like keyboards.

Overall, a pleasant listening experience, "Hyperdrive" is a nice-to-have album, which will appeal to those who like the more modern path, simpler, Neo-prog (i.e. heavy-rock driven) and don't mind a good proportion of ballad-like moments.

Thanks to Freeman Promotions for the promo.

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 Under A New Sign by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.91 | 150 ratings

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Under A New Sign
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by progpig66 (arnold)

5 stars Under a new sign is the second album from this solid Dutch neo-prog band and in my opinion it is by far their best achievement. I played the album over and over again and I loved every track. The synth sounds by main man Gerben Klazinga are as transparent and beautiful as can be, the guitar sounds are all perfectly chosen and I so much loved the huge sound of the Rickenbacker bass and the Moog Taurus pedals ! Just check out the guitar doubled riff in "Mastermind". I also loved the contributions by Joop Klazinga on his flute and recorders. It makes a perfect counterbalance to the solid, almost metal based guitar/bass riffs. Magnum opus on the album is the second part of "A Different Man". With over 13 minutes of music, this is a true symphonic masterpiece, full of fantastic strong guitar and keyboard themes.

Under a new sign, by Knight Area is a great opportunity to get to know one of the best Dutch prog bands of this moment and I won't hesitate to call it a masterpiece!

Progpig66.

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