Knight Area -
Heaven And Beyond

(CD 2017, 62:10, Butler Records, LC35136/BUR2016023)

The tracks:
  1- Unbroken(7:06)
  2- Dreamworld(5:14)
  3- The Reaper(7:11)
  4- Box Of Toys(3:47)
  5- Starlight(4:06)
  6- Heaven And Beyond(7:43)
  7- Saviour Of Sinners(4:08)
  8- Eternal Light(3:26)
  9- Twins Of Sins(7:17)
10- Tree Of Life(6:25)
11- Memories(5:48)

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Heaven And Beyond is the sixth studio album of the Dutch flagship of heavy progressive rock, Knight Area. I never forget the moment I heard the opening tracks of the debut album The Sun Also Rises (2004). I really thought, what the heck is going on? I was surprised by the non-Dutch sound of the album, the heavy beats, the perfect keyboard arrangements and above all the skills of guitarist Peter van Heijningen.

In February 2017 Knight Area's sixth studio album will see the light. Several line-up changes took place since they started their musical career 13 years ago. I must confess that I was happy with guitarist Mark Vermeule as a band member. I loved his style of playing, but I know that is my personal taste. On the last two albums Knight Area slightly changed their course. The current lineup with Mark Smit (vocals, additional keyboards), Gerben Klazinga (keyboards), Pieter van Hoorn (drums), Peter Vink (bass guitars), Mark Bogert (guitars) is most of all to blame for the band's different sound, compared to the way they sounded years ago. On the last two albums Mark Bogert is their guitarist. When you have Mark in your band, you can be sure that the style will be more “aggressive”. Aggressive in a positive way, of course.

Heaven And Beyond is some sort of extended version of their previous album Hyperdrive (2014, see review). But I can tell you right now, it is not a copy. The sound of the band has certainly developed. Greatest difference, in my opinion, is the fact that Bogert plays more subtle on many songs. Mark is of course a shredder, such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. And several solos contain a lot of shredding. But further on Mark shows us that he can play modest as well.
Gerben Klazinga, one of the founders of the band, was responsible for most of the tracks on the first four albums. With Mark Bogert in the band, Knight Area has a second songwriter in the ranks.

The album opens with modest keyboards and melodic guitars. So the beginning of Unbroken is certainly a statement. The characteristic singing of Mark Smit makes this very melodic song complete. The tracks Dreamworld, Starlight, Saviour Of Sinners, Tree Of Life, Twins Of Sins are typical Knight Area songs, as we know them from former albums.
The Reaper starts threatening. The keyboards have a deep sound and the singing is a little thrilling. The song continues with heavy guitar walls. After a melodic intermezzo the song continues with the heavy sound, a lingering guitar solo and a fast keyboard solo. The Reaper is a great song!
Box Of Toys is a song I like very much. The song opens with lingering guitar- and keyboard parts. The vocals and supporting melodic parts are of great quality. The guitar solo at the end is short but of great beauty. The title track Heaven And Beyond is also a great song. It starts very modest, almost a real ballad I would say. In the middle of the song Mark Bogert starts a fabulous solo. The solo contains a lot of Mark's skills. Knight Area can be proud to have him in the band!
Eternal Light is a guitar intermezzo by Mark Bogert. Gerben Klazinga guides him on the keyboards. Once more this is very melodic and modest. The album ends with Memories. This song is a ballad, with a heavy guitar solo at the end of the song.

In short, Knight Area made a successful sixth studio album. It takes an hour to listen to the album and I must confess: it never gets boring. I think we can be proud to have such a great progressive rock band in the Netherlands. Great album, must have!

***** Aad Bannink (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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