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Cirrha Niva - 2009 - "For Moments Never Done"

(46.47, ‘Parnassus’)

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


Legrand – vocals 
Rob Willemse – guitars 
Carlo Heefer – guitars
Dani?l Huyben – bass 
Tommy White – drums
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
The Rating Room

Cirrha Niva - 2009 - "For Moments Never Done"


Analysis. After a few years of sifting through approximately 200 albums annually have gone by, occasions when an album comes across as close to perfection become more and more rare, in particular in the field of progressive metal I might add. A genre where the level of musicianship generally is high, but where it seems more and more difficult to avoid musical expressions and sounds extensively utilized by other artists previously. Cirrha Niva gets an approving nod both for managing to do just that, as well as for managing to produce a CD that excels in a manner of other dimensions besides. The range of expressions covered on this disc goes from the mellow and melodic to the brutal and dissonant. The first half of Running From the Source is pretty similar to what Green Carnation did on their acoustic verses album a few years back, for instance, while the most brutal riff barrages on the following Golan Heights are mostly found within the more leaden parts of the thrash metal universe. These two examples reflect the extremes represented on this production, though most often the stylistic expressions explored reside in between them. And one of the characteristic traits of this venture is the smooth transitions between these differences in sound and delivery. While a few instances of dramatic twists and turns do pop up, Cirrha Niva prefers the smooth and subtle approach throughout, with a distinctly dynamic overall sound as a direct result and consequence. The songs themselves come across as planned to the smallest detail. Excessive material and passages are few and very far between – this isn't the album to explore if you enjoy elongated themes and guitar solos that last from here to eternity. Everything seems to have been planned with a specific function throughout, from the subtle alterations in tempo in the riff barrages to the almost unremarkable added guitar licks in the gentler sequences. There's really nothing to be found that doesn't serve as a contrast, a subtle alteration or addition, or, in the case of the rhythm department, to keep track of and control the momentum and overall intensity. At this stage it might not be necessary to add the word sophisticated to describe this CD, but just in case that hasn't been stated implicitly it's high time to do so explicitly. This is a refined effort made with care as well as finesse, and while not representing a truly challenging and certified original brand of progressive metal, it is a good example of an elaborately crafted work with quite a few aspects to it that many would describe as innovative. Excellent musicianship all around is the icing on the cake, and personally I was really charmed by the lead vocals of Legrand in particular. He might not be a giant in terms of range capabilities, at least as represented on this CD, but in terms of utilizing his voice to provide vocals rather than the high pitched cliched siren song of way-too-many metal vocalists he can be cited as an example to follow. He seems to know the limitations of his voice as well as what specific delivery is best suited for all the different expressions provided by the instrumentalists, which is a rare and treasured capability in a lead singer.

Conclusion. If you generally like progressive metal, and in particular if your taste in that department ranges beyond the scope of acts such as Dream Theater and Symphony X, Cirrha Niva has provided an album well worth exploring in the shape of "For Moments Never Done". A splendid example of just how good music in this genre can be as far as I'm concerned.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 6, 2010
The Rating Room

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