Following in the footsteps of bands such as Arena, Rocket Scientists, Galleon, Enchant, and Pendragon, comes Knight Area from the Netherlands. Knight Area play a muscular brand of neo-progressive rock that is chock full of melodies, meaty power chords, and loads of compelling keyboard work. The Sun Also Rises proves to be an enjoyable ride throughout, more often than not playing it pretty safe, but the musicianship and songwriting is top notch.
Hearing the huge guitar riffs mixing with monstrous Mellotron on "The Gate of Eternity" will instantly pull you in and not let go. Tunes like "Forever Now" and "Conspiracy" have great melodies and hooks to go along with wonderful, symphonic keyboards from Gerben Klazinga, who happens to also write all the music for the CD's ten songs. Chief lyricist and flute player Joop Klazinga tends to write on the dark side, as his songs mostly deal with pain, death, and despair, but his words are intelligent and fit the music just fine. The electric guitar trio of Peter Van Heijningen, Jeroen Hogenboom, and Arjan Groenendijk, combined with acoustic guitarist Vincent Frijdal, create a huge wall of sound, with Van Heijningen handling the lead work in a style that is like a crossing of Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp. These four combine with Gerben Klazinga to turn "Conviction" into a raucous, symphonic powerhouse, a tune that will instantly bring to mind the style of Arena, as it contains memorable hooks and big, fat instrumentation. Lead singer Mark Smit turns in his best vocal performance here, although I am not 100% sold on his performance on the bands heavier material here. For some reason his voice doesn't seem to have enough power and passion to go along with some of these songs, even though he has a pleasant delivery, somewhat like Nick Barrett's from Pendragon. Perhaps he can turn it up a notch on their next release.
"The Sun Also Rises", the instrumental title track, is a real joy, moody and atmospheric, with lots of melodic keyboard and guitar work. The band hits a great, vintage Genesis- like mood on "Mortal Brow", mixing bouncy symphonic prog with moments of ominous atmosphere. Klazinga throws in wicked synth lines and Mellotron, while Van Heijningen contributes some nice melodic textures. A similar tone follows on "Moods Inspiring Clouds", which features great, offbeat, Hackett-ish guitar leads, as well as on the majestic "A New Day at Last (For Ferry)", a somber piece that really shows the emotional side of this band, and is certainly a better environment for Smit's vocal style. The closing instrumental "Saevis Tranquillis in Undis" pretty much fades out the CD in similar fashion as the four songs preceding it, and ends the recording on a gentle, somber note.
Looking back, Knight Area appear to have separated the songs here into two sections. The first half of The Sun Also Rises is much more bombastic and symphonic, and certainly heavier, than the kinder, gentler, and more classic prog style of the second half. I think many listeners will appreciate the diversity here, and it will be insteresting to see which way they go on their next release.
1) Beyond (0:27)
2) The Gates of Eternity (7:21)
3) Conspiracy (5:38)
4) Forever Now (4:21)
5) The Sun Also Rises (5:51)
6) Conviction (5:44)
7) Mortal Brow (6:21)
8) Moods Inspiring Clouds (5:14)
9) A New Day at Last (For Ferry) (5:12)
10) Saevis Tranquillis In Undis (3:41)
Total Time (50:03)