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TRACK LIST: 1. The Fooling 7:28 2. Dreamon 5:07 3. Framed 8:02 4. Running From the Source 6:11 5. Golan Heights 6:55 6. Spring Before Winter 4:49 7. Self-Chosen 8:15 LINEUP: Legrand – vocals Rob Willemse – guitars Carlo Heefer – guitars Dani?l Huyben – bass Tommy White – drums With: Joost Van Der Broek – keyboards (3, 4, 6) Manda Ophuis – backing vocals (2) Bouke Visser – saxophone (6)
Prolusion. Hailing from The Netherlands, CIRRHA NIVA have been active since 1993. The band released their debut album, “The Mirror World Dimension”, in 1997, followed by the EP “Enter the Future Exit” (1999), and the rock-opera “Liaison De La Morte”, featuring members of Pain of Salvation (2001). At the end of the tour for the promotion of the latter album, the band went on hiatus, undergoing some dramatic line-up changes - in particular with the addition of vocalist Legrand. “For Moments Never Done”, released in 2009, sees the participation of a number of guest musicians from other Dutch bands, as well as Yuval Kramer from Israeli outfit Amaseffer. Unfortunately, in the early months of 2010 health problems forced drummer Tommy White to leave the band, and Cirrha Niva are currently auditioning for a new drummer.
Analysis. Since the very beginnings of the progressive rock movement, The Netherlands – in spite of their diminutive size – have provided more than their fair share of interesting bands and artists. In more recent times, with the literal explosion of the prog-metal phenomenon, the country has proved itself no less than a hotbed for bands of every description. Having been originally formed in 1993, when progressive metal had not yet been officially ‘born’, the oddly-named Cirrha Niva are among the oldest practitioners of the genre. However, unlike well-known names of the Dutch musical scene such as Epica, The Gathering or Within Temptation, Cirrha Niva eschew the successful, yet somewhat contrived pastures of Gothic/Symphonic Metal. Their brand of progressive metal, while keeping melody at the forefront for most of the time, comes across as distinctly more aggressive, as well as more streamlined. While in the past they had indulged the Dutch fashion for having both a male and a female vocalist, now the band is fronted by the experienced Legrand – definitely a worthwhile asset for the new incarnation of Cirrha Niva. His clear, powerful tenor soars above the music effortlessly, though without the tiresome cheesiness that is often part and parcel of the prog-metal phenomenon. Without being wildly original or innovative, “For Moments Never Done” comes across as a mature, accomplished effort. The compositions are well-structured, and their organization within the album is nicely balanced. Moreover, the album’s running time is kept at a very wise 46-odd minutes, unlike the behemoths that many other prog bands (not only of the metal persuasion) are wont to produce. The members of the band, all technically gifted, play nonetheless with a remarkable sense of cohesion. The album can also rely on the discreet presence of other artists, mostly fellow Netherlanders, who add some particular (and welcome) touches to a number of tracks – starting from the ‘grunts and screams’ of Chiraw’s Robin de Groot in opener The Fooling, a powerful yet melodic offering propelled along by resounding double-bass drumming and high-energy riffs. The contrast between the two sharply differing vocal styles of Legrand and de Groot creates a sense of tension that may bring to mind the skilful blend of melody and aggression so typical of Opeth’s sound. Dreamon is somewhat more deja vu, with Nemesea singer Manda Ophuis contributing backing vocals and melodic potential, and a feel that is more straight Power Metal than progressive metal; while the strongly keyboard-driven Framed sounds clearly influenced by the grand sweep of Symphony X than the ubiquitous Dream Theater – not surprising, seen the presence of former After Forever keyboardist Joost van der Broek. However, the album’s highlights are the intense, dramatic Golan Heights, with spoken Hebrew vocals contributed by Yuval Kramer (of Israeli band Amaseffer), and a particularly effective performance by Legrand, and the Pink Floyd-ian Spring before Winter, embellished by saxophone inserts and cleanly flowing guitar licks. The album is brought to a high-powered, yet stylish conclusion by the thunderous (though slightly schizophrenic) Self-Chosen, where the influence of seminal thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth can be clearly detected. Though “For Moments Never Done” cannot be called a masterpiece, it does possess features that, in some ways, allow it to stand out from the crowd. It is an album that conveys a strong sense of self-assurance – not surprisingly, considering the number of years the band has been around. Definitely a worthy addition to the collection of any progressive metal fan.
Conclusion. Though not exactly ground-breaking, “For Moments Never Done” is a well-crafted, skilfully executed album that offers a more original approach to progressive metal than the slew of Dream Theater clones whose releases seem to be flooding the current music market. With enough eclecticism to appeal to the more progressive-minded fans, and enough heaviness and power to meet the approval of staunch metal fans, Cirrha Niva are a band to watch.
RB=Raffaella Berry: April 30, 2010
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