KNIGHT AREA – Nine Paths (2011)
“Nine Paths” is the fourth album from respected Dutch band Knight Area.
They have garnered attention around the world, performing in North America multiple times as well as tours throughout Europe.
First of all, don’t be fooled by the band’s name, as they don’t play medieval / fantasy-based metal.
Knight Area is a wonderful Neo Prog combo blending progressive elements with Euro Melodic Rock.
“Nine Paths” is a blistering assault on the musical senses as the album covers a variety of sounds that all may not be heard without multiple listenings. The keyboards are superb, the guitars and bass mesh extremely well, and the drums accentuate certain passages excellently. The vocals are spot on, as Mark Smits has an amazing, perfect pitch singing voice.
And they have legend Neil Kernon (Queensrÿche, Kansas, Shy) producing, so expect a fantastic sound.
“Ever Since You Killed Me” is a spectacular opening statement, with soaring guitars cutting a swathe for the beefy keyboards to come cavorting through. Early (and I do mean early) Marillion is strongly evoked as a gentle piano line interjects the pompous beginnings, complimenting an enigmatic vocal from Mark Smit.
Garben Klazinga’s keyboards continue to be a hugely influential feature running through the whole album, however the sharp riffs courtesy of Mark Vermeule make a stronger claim for supremacy as the album moves on, as is clear on the sharping six-string attack of “Summerland”.
You’ll notice an emphasis on straight melodic rock in “Clueless” – which has the catchiest chorus on the album – where prog nuances have been vacated.
Even the instrumental “Pride and Joy” sounds more like a rockin’ tune, even though keyboards and guitar get into some serious duets and dueling.
Perhaps the clearest representation of melodic rock (also with some symphonic notes) is the incredible ballad “Please Come Home”, where The delectable Charlotte Wessels of Delain joins Smit for a stupendous duet on ballad “Please Come Home”. It’s a passionate, emotional and melodic piece.
Yet, those melodic rock notes arise in segments within other tracks as the larger sound created by big riffs over synths in the heart of “The Balance” or in the trepidation through the changing lines of “Wakerun”.
“Nine Paths” is a great collection of songs with a balance of mood, atmosphere and feeling, packed with bags of melody oozing from every tune.
You’ll discover great instrumentation, excellent bass lines, proggy keyboards with loads of emotion and feeling. There’s also some well-played heavy riffs merged together seamlessly with lots of dynamics, variations and tempo changes. The vocals from Mark Smit give the songs an almost dream-like emotion.
The production from Neil Kernon is stellar. Every instrument is crystal clear and the vocals sound immense.
“Nine Paths” simply sounds great. The musical canvas is large and Knight Area fills it with color and imagination to entertaining effect.
A must have for fans of Melodic Rock / Progg = Neo Prog.
01 – Ever Since You Killed Me
02 – Summerland
03 – Please Come Home
04 – Clueless
05 – The River
06 – Pride And Joy
07 – The Balance
08 – Wakerun
09 – Angel’s Call
Mark Smit – vocals
Gerben Klazinga – keyboards
Mark Vermeule – guitars
Gijs Koopman – bass guitar, taurus pedals
Pieter Van Hoorn – drums
Charlotte Wessels – guest vocals
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