Being a Dutchman, it's always a pleasure to discover a great progressive rock album recorded by a Dutch band. In the past several bands from the Netherlands succeeded in recording fantastic prog and prog related music. I guess many foreign prog heads are familiar with great bands like Ayreon, Kayak, Earth & Fire, Supersister, Focus, Knight Area, Leap Day and Flamborough Head, just to name a few. Well, we can add another band to the list namely Hangover Paradise, a band that started in 2010 and hail from the northern part of our country. After a few line-up changes they now consist of Cynthio Ooms (bass), Elias de Vries (lead vocals), Peter Nanuru (guitar), Jeroen van Stenis (drums) and the twin brothers Henk and Peter Zwerus (keyboards).
Recently their debut album Mirrors was released which sounds very mature for a first musical effort. All of the eight compositions are not only of a high level, but also very enjoyable to listen to. Right from the start it's obvious which bands inspired them. I clearly heard traces of Saga, early Marillion , Pink Floyd, Eloy, IQ and Arena. However, they didn't copy the music of these bands. These experienced musicians certainly know how to transcribe all these influences into a style of their own. The songs that were collected for their debut are mostly up-tempo pieces except for the mellower track Back Home.
Not only the music is perfectly performed, but also the lyrics − written by Peter Zwerus − have something to say and deal with serious world issues. The song Army Of Innocents is a good example; it tells us how things have terribly gone wrong on our blue planet with child soldiers and religious clashes. This song is one of the three on which guest vocalist Bert Heerink, former lead singer of Kayak and the hard rock band Vandenberg, did some fine backing vocals. The perfect production was also done by a former band member of Vandenberg, namely bass player Dick Kemper.
I have no complaints at all about this fine album by Hangover Paradise. Mirrors certainly is a debut that many bands can only dream of. Hopefully the band will develop on their next record making even stronger neo-prog that will be loved by those who enjoyed the music recorded by all the above-mentioned bands!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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