KNIGHT AREA – ‘Nine Paths’ (The Laser’s Edge)
‘Nine Paths’ – nine tracks you see, excluding the brief drum solo following the conclusion of album closer ‘Angel’s Call’ – sees the Dutch quintet with the strange name in fairly familiar prog rock territory, although possibly with a more sharper edge to roughen up some of their material. As such this, their fourth album, is not so much a transition as a consolidation of their already well-known and well-respected sound, but although the band remain more, say, Yes/early Genesis than Pagan’s Mind there’s still a vein running through them which every so often wants to kick out the jams and go for it.
The album is a progressive rock fan’s dream, with lengthy songs and priceless musicianship taking pride of place over just delivering the goods: these guys couldn’t play a bum note if they tried. Given the polish and quality of the band’s material, and Mark Smit’s voice occasionally sounding like Buck Dharma, some of Knight Area’s more straightforward songs – or at least parts of songs – do invoke the spirit of Blue Oyster Cult (no bad thing there), most obviously in the wonderful ‘Clueless’ which also features some beautifully fluid guitar work from Mark Vermeule.
Opener ‘Ever Since You Killed Me’ is as Seventies and prog as it comes, but things gear up with the following cut, the Dream Theater-ish ‘Summerland’, and the personal highlight has to be ‘Please Come Home’ in which Smit duets delightfully with Delain’s Charlotte Wessels on a song which is fabulously melancholic but uplifting none-the-less.
Enigmatic, perhaps, and not straight-forward listening, but certainly well worth getting to know.
© John Tucker November 2011