Released: 2011, Lasers Edge
These Dutch dudes have been slowly but surely building a following and a reputation in the Prog Metal circles. Now four albums deep in the past seven years the band are clearly quite prolific. NINE PATHS has just been released and the band still tread their familiar ground with confidence and talent. At about an hour this new offering is a fine example of Prog Metal and how good it can truly be. The songs many of them in the seven-nine minute naturally have many different compositional elements, taking the listener on a journey, if they are willing to take the time.
Synthesizers and keyboards play a huge part in the bands sound with many ‘spacey’ type flourishes and swashes littered through out the sounds. Acoustic piano is also heard here and there. It has been said that the band can be a bit on the mellow side but on cuts like ‘Summerland’ the drums keep things moving along at a nice clip. If anything this album is a hint heavier than the past couple, with Heavy, naturally, being a relative term. If you are a Death Metal guy this is not heavy at all. If you only listen to Prog, then NINE PATHS is a crunchy album in line with Threshold, heavier than Karmankanic and Transatlantic but not as heavy as Dream Theater, for example. Admittedly, if you are an average (Priest/Maiden) Metal guy this is a bit on the mellower side, but that is one of the strengths of the band, it’s not over the top all the time.
The vocals are certainly not prominent in every song, they cut in and out in places and are certainly not the focal point of the songs. Understated and restrained, vocalist Mark Smit has a very smooth refined voice with a laid back delivery. I think that’s for the best as his performance compliments the songs instead of overpowering them.
As with most Prog Metal albums, the caliber of musicianship is world-class. The album has solos galore but never to point of just ‘showing off’. Knight Area are not that kind of band to just use a simple song to showcase personal talent, even though it is there. The songs are open and breathe when they need to, slowing down, speeding up and weaving around, with very little in a traditional, verse, chorus, verse chorus song structure. There are few more conventional song like ‘Clueless’ with a more straight ahead rock vibe but most of the album is pretty progressive. ‘Pride And Joy’ is a really brief, really fun rocking instrumental tune with everyone getting a chance to shine.
Laser’s Edge picked these guys up a while back because the label has an ear for talent and Knight Area has made quite a reputation built on a string of solid albums and international touring. NINE PATHS is their latest and perhaps most accomplished effort to date.