In 2012 guitarist Mark Vermeule left the Dutch progressive rock band Knight Area. He was replaced by the young Mark Bogert, who made a name in the excellent Dutch prog metal band Penny's Twisted Flavour. A year later bass player Gijs Koopman left as well; he was replaced by the well-known Peter Vink, who already made music with Q65 in the sixties and with Finch in the seventies. Most prog heads will know him for his contributions to the albums of Star One and Ayreon.
This line-up change certainly had some impact on the musical direction of the band. During performances the band sounded heavier than formerly, but the change of staff gave them above all a creative impulse. This resulted in writing new compositions for their fifth studio album that will appear at the end of 2013. However, fans don't have to wait that long for new material. To kill the time between the latest studio album Nine Paths (2011, see review) and the follow-up, Knight Area decided to release an EP appropriately called Between Two Steps.
In a press report lead singer Mark Smit stated: Between Two Steps marks the beginning of a new period for us. With Mark Bogert we found ourselves a new guitarist, and Peter Vink has been added as a bass player. The sound of the band has changed in a new direction. With this EP we want to show where we are standing now, and what our fans may expect of the new album. Moreover, they emphasize this new phase in their career with a new band logo.
The EP starts with a radio-edit of Bubble, a fine up-tempo tune with strong bass playing and heavy guitar parts. A fantastic mellow middle-section with some beautiful Mellotron parts makes sure that there's enough variety in this composition. Towards the end a great synthesizer solo by Gerben Klazinga can be enjoyed. Next is a heavier version of Forever Now, a song that already appeared on the band's debut The Sun Also Rises (2004) followed by a radio-edit of This Day, a wonderful ballad with an amazing guitar solo. Another oldie is Dreamweaver from the second album Under A New Sign (2007). Once again the new recording of this classic Knight Area song is a bit heavier compared to the original version, but that doesn't mean that Knight Area have become a prog metal band. Still the familiar keyboard and guitar parts can be enjoyed.
The final song on this way too short EP is Xerenity, a very strong instrumental piece with a leading role for the electric guitar. The solo on this rather mellow track is just outstanding and wonderfully supported by the rest of the band. However, this piece won't appear on the new studio album and neither do the new versions of the old tunes, though the radio-edits will appear in much longer versions. I think in the end this EP will eventually become a collector's item.
Fans of the band can buy Between Two Steps blindly. Those who are afraid that Knight Area has turned into a metal band can have a sigh of relief, because the band still sounds like a true prog rock act in spite of the additional heavy guitar parts. I think people who heard Between Two Steps expect that the new album will become one of the finest albums of 2013, because all the music on this release points in that direction!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?