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(175:26 CD+DVD, Metal Mind Records)
Prolusion. The Dutch band KNIGHT AREA was formed in 2004, shortly after its founder Gerben Klazinga released the album "The Sun Also Rises" using the Knight Area moniker. Since then the band has released new albums at a steady pace, with 5 full-length studio recorodings to their name so far. The live CD/DVD "Hyperlive" is their most recent production, released by the Polish label Metal Mind in 2015.
TRACKLIST: 1. Afraid of the Dark 6:15 2. The Lost World 5:18 3. Bubble 5:01 4. Crimson Skies 4:14 5. Avenue of Broken Dreams 4:52 6. Living in Confusion 5:34 7. Stepping Out 3:30 8. Running Away 3:01 9. Songs From the Past 3:35 10. Hypnotised 7:43 11. Medley 16:07 12. Mortal Blow 10:16 LINEUP: Gerben Klazinga keyboards Mark Smit vocals; pianos Pieter Van Hoorn drums Peter Vink bass, pedals Mark Bogert guitars
Analysis. Knight Area is one of those bands that can be described in many different manners, as they do incorporate quite a few stylistic elements into their compositions. At the end of the day, I guess, neo progressive rock is just about the best total indicator of what their music is all about, although that expression in itself doesn't provide a totally accurate picture of what this band is all about. And when that is said, you could probably give a good argument for the music here to be described as some variety of progressive metal as well. The neo progressive aspects of their material is a recurring feature, though, with harmony-based, compelling lerad vocals, gentle guitar support and atmospheric keyboard textures in support for the vocal passages and liberal amounts of highly appealing and often majestic keyboard solo runs, but similar to what Sylvan used to do some years back. There's also room for harder edged guitar riffs supplemented by appropriately majestic keyboard textures that form an arrangement much closer to progressive metal in style, and on many songs from this concert they aren't strangers to hit more of an AOR and hard rock vibe either, at times reminding me ever so slightly of the more commercial side of Europe, at other times invoking associations to the UK band FM and, on an occasion or two, possibly even Queen. The songs are all well performed, from what I can tell. The lead vocals may be slightly divisive at times, due to a slight accent and what at times may possibly be a subtly metal-oriented manner of delivery that doesn't always strike me as natural. But, for some reason, I had a hard time really warming up to the material here. The vocals had a slightly detrimental effect on me on occasion, as did occasional use of layered, almost melodramatic, majestic backing vocal layers and some fiery shred guitar details that felt slightly out of place. The total sum of those details is what became a slight negative for me, I guess. Still, all of them do have their appealing passages, sequences or themes, but the sum of them just doesn't quite add up for me. Pleasant material I could pop into my car's CD player any old time of day, but not music I'd sit down and listen to with total concentration with two exceptions. The 16-minute long medley towards the end of the album was a clear highlight for me. Even if consisting of parts of multiple songs, just about all those parts and the manner in which they have been assembled struck home much better with me than the 10 songs from the bands 2014 album "Hyperdrive", and if it hadn't been for some a bit too extensive bass soloing and a guitar solo run that didn't quite hit home with me on concluding piece Mortal Brow. I would probably have had the very same description of that composition. Still, both of these are, in my view, superior entities compared to the other songs on this live album, and comes across as high-quality specimens from the slightly harder edged side of the neo progressive universe.
TRACKLIST: 1. Afraid of the Dark 2. The Lost World 3. Bubble 4. Crimson Skies 5. Avenue of Broken Dreams 6. Living in Confusion 7. Stepping Out 8. Running Away 9. Songs From the Past 10. Hypnotised 11. Medley 12. Mortal Blow Bonus material: Interviews LINEUP: Same
Analysis. The DVD part of this package strikes me as, perhaps, slightly more of a budget release than most other DVDs I have come across from Metal Mind over the years. Part of this is possibly location, as the location where most of the previous Metal Mind DVDs have been captured is a more impressive one, adding a natural majestic element to those productions. The venue used here appears as smaller and more worn down, and the manner in which the footage is assembled also gives this concert a much more intimate feel. You get the impression that the audience isn't all that big, and that the band is physically close to the entire audience. The footage itself is of a decent enough quality in terms of sharpness and color balance, although one camera in action does have a grainier, lower quality feel to it. The various angles used, detailed shots of the various musicians and full stage shots are combined and mixed into an appealing whole, however, with a natural flow and momentum that make the concert an enjoyable watch. The audio is excellent throughout, as one expects these days, and the band appears to have a good time on stage as well, with band interactions indicating a tight knit band, enjoying each others company, and a frontman able and willing to interact with the audience, which is always a good thing and entertaining to watch. The additional material, two interviews, are lower in quality, however. We do hear what the band members say fairly well, with some loud background noises a slightly annoying detail there, but the voice of the person interviewing the band is distorted and extremely hard to understand throughout both interviews. We do get to learn a bit about the band in those interviews, although that may explain why someone like me felt like the older material of the band came across as more appealing, which basically boils down to the band opting to develop in a new direction on their 2014 CD "Hyperdrive".
Conclusion. As this is Knight Area's first live DVD, fans of the band in general and those who treasure their 2014 album "Hyperdrive" in particular come across as the main audience for this live production. And while I wouldn't advise those who want to become more familiar with the band in itself to opt for this release as a good introduction, those who generally are intrigued by bands that mix their neo progressive rock with hard rock and progressive metal might find this set of live CD and DVD to merit a check.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 5 & 6, 2016
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