At the end of June, I visited the CD release party of Dutch prog band Mangrove. I enjoyed Mangrove’s live interpretation of their new album Beyond Reality very much (see concert review). Of course, this band can write and perform great stuff, but the question that really mattered was: have they been able this time to record their fantastic live sound into a real good studio album as well? The title track already appeared on the bands set list a couple of years, a very promising epic that predicted the release of a very special album, maybe an album beyond reality… Mangrove has learned a lot from their previous releases. The band spent a lot of time and money to come up with the best production possible. This time not only the music, but everything had to be top notch. For the first time in their career, the band succeeded in sounding the best way ever.
Beyond Reality consists of prog rock music of an outstanding quality level. This album is without doubt Mangrove’s best release so far. The six tracks on the album are real prog beauties. In my opinion, Mangrove delivered a masterpiece. The bombastic sound and the fluent melodies not only brought tears in my eyes, but also goose bumps on my arms. The band has a talent for creating fantastic climaxes. Fine examples on this album are the eponymous track and Voyager. One of their trademarks is the combination of melodic guitar solos by Roland van der Horst and fantastic keyboard sounds performed by Chris Jonker. Anyway, if you like virtuoso synthesizer solos than you can enjoy them throughout the album. Compared with previous releases, Chris used different sounds for this album. His awesome mellotron sound samples, organ and piano parts show that he has a fine sense for fluent melodies. The quality of the compositions is beyond any dispute, although they are not quite original. For example, the piano and organ sound in the final part of Time Will Tell reminded me very much of Echoes by Pink Floyd and that applies to the slide guitar effects as well. In the same song, I heard fantastic electric piano playing that reminded me of seventies band Greenslade. Besides, we hear many Camel and Genesis influences on the entire album, but that is no problem at all as long as these influences fit the music one way or another. Out of this melting pot, Mangrove creates music that can compete with any other band in the genre.
Yet I got two remarks. If you decide to buy this masterpiece you must have a mirror in the house otherwise you cannot read the lyrics in the booklet for they have been printed in reversed writing. It is also possible that I got a wrong copy… Another characteristic of this album is that it cannot be played in a blue Ford Mondeo..? Anyway, that is what the booklet tells you. Any other car will do to enjoy this piece of art. Mangrove did not sit still the past four years. As musicians, they made a remarkable growth during that period. Therefore, only the highest rating will be suitable for Beyond Reality. Well deserved and well done guys!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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