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Cliffhanger - Mirror Site CD (album) cover




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erik neuteboom
3 stars When Cliffhanger released their debut CD entitled Cold Steel on the Dutch progrock label SI Music in 1995, many progheads were convinced that this would be their breakthrough after gaining a large cult-follwing by giving many concerts and releasing a promising demo-tape (featuring pleasant and melodic symphonic rock with strong hints from Genesis, Yes and UK). Unfortunately it turned out that Cliffhanger only kept a fanatic but small audience. And the singer often got negative remarks because of his not very powerful voice. I don't have problems with this and Rinie took lessons to improve his voice. After the recordings of this third album founding member and keyboard player Dick Heijboer decided to leave the band, he was (shortly) replaced by Ronald Van De Weerd who came from Pink Floyd cover band The Anderson Council (the surnames of Pink and Floyd..!).

1. Rainforest (7:16) : First soaring keyboards and forest sounds, then a tight rhythm featuring howling guitar work and percussive keyboards, supported by Moog Taurus bass pedals during the more bombastic moments.

2. The Final Frontier (4:57) : Lots of alternating, very compelling parts, from mellow with beautiful piano, vocals and sensitive electric guitar (evoking Hackett because of the frequent use of the volume pedal) to bombastic with majestic choir-Mellotron, fiery electric guitar and lush keybards (with strong hints from mid-Genesis).

3. Mirror Site I (11:35) : First spacey keyboards, then a propulsive rhythm and lots of shifting moods and pleasant musical ideas including a flashy synthesizer solo, floods of Mellotron and a duet between sampled church organ and Hackett-like guitar.

4. Mirror Site II (9:51) : This piece sounds like a marriage between mid-Genesis (guitar) and Seventies Pink Floyd (soaring keyboards), followed by a tight beat with powerful Rickenbacker bass work and inventive play on guitar and keyboards.

5. Mirror Site III (5:23) : After a short sampled church organ intro there is an up- tempo beat delivering fiery electric guitar.

6. Sunday Afternoon (4:27) : This track features a nice harmony between fiery electric guitar, propulsive bass and dazzling synthesizer flights.

7. Truce (4:43) : It starts a bit polished but gradually the climate turns into wonderful symphonic rock.

8. The Undiscovered Country (8:51) : The final composition has a Mellotron drenched intro, then a sensitive electric guitar joins and eventually Cliffhanger presents us wonderful 24-carat symphonic rock featuring compelling keyboards, a powerful bass sound and beautiful guitarplay, frequently supported by Mellotron waves.

In my opinion this is Cliffhanger their best studio album, they don't have the level of IQ or Marillion but Cliffhanger deserves a second chance!

Report this review (#73648)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Before splitting up, Cliffhanger had already recorded a demo, which was enough for the band to win a contract with Musea Records.Dick Heijboer was still present during the recordings, but at the time of the album's release he was replaced by newcomer Ronald van de Weerd.Musea released the album in 1998, ''Mirror site'' was its title, but Cliffhanger had already fallen apart.

Despite having taken the road towards dissolution, Cliffhanger still played interesting and complicated music along the lines of GENESIS, the recording quality had dropped a bit due to having captured most stuff at home instead of a professional studio, but the music contains evidence of a talented band.They had pretty much left behind the long and multi-parted compositions, except for a pair of tracks, but they did not ever abandon the mood for symphonic-oriented dramatic arrangements.With the standard STEVE HACKETT-like guitar trembling and the TONY BANKS-inspired keyboard flashes they remained a strong value of the Dutch Neo Prog scene.Actually ''Mirror site'' contains some of the most complex and atmospheric compositions created by Cliffhanger, which was pretty respectable, but they had somewhat lost their way onto efficient and memorable melodies.On the other hand the album is dominated by maybe the best guitar work of Rinie Huigen, his solos in particular are simply one of the finest in the league.If only the band could combine them with a more solid songwriting.You will simply beg for another spin of ''The undiscovered country'', propably the best track ever written by the band with Huigen's emotional guitar lines and the Mellotron of Heijboer creating a spacious, sensitive atmosphere.Possibly the whole album would have sounded a bit better, if recorded in a more proper way, the keyboard arrangements and sinister thematic changes are still very nice, but there is a suspicion of a thin sound throughout the release.

It is quite amazing that the band recorded a large number of demos, lives and studios albums in just a 5-year span.They always maintained a high composing quality and progressive nature, ''Mirror site'' is no exception, it's semi-dark and complex Neo/Symphonic Prog with obvious GENESIS flashes, recommended to all lovers of the style.

Report this review (#1327322)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2014 | Review Permalink

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