Neo-prog has never sounded so good! Dutch group Plackband have reunited after a long hiatus to record this album of symphonic prog with a classic twist, yet still melodic and accessible. Previously the band had only released a live recording from the early 80's, and here they re-recorded a few older tracks, plus some super new ones, for an all-around great listening experience.
Fans of the early 80's neo-prog movement in Europe, and especially bands like Marillion, IQ, Pallas, and Twelfth Night, will find much to like here. The exuberant title track is a great way to get things going, and features lush keyboards (including some ominous Mellotron) and melodic lead guitar work. Vocalist Kees Bik has a decent voice, somewhat similar to Geoff Mann from Twelfth Night, and delivers the mostly fantasy based lyrics with lots of pomp and swagger. "Ghost Town" is a song about a hostile takeover of a community, and how the survivors deal with it, and has lots of great keyboard work from Michel van Wassem. A reworked song, "The Hunchback", is really a fun tune, with Mellotrons, twelve-string guitar, bass pedals, and an overall Wind and Wuthering era Genesis feeling about it. Other highlights include the complex and symphonic "See the Dwarf", and the epic, atmospheric drama of "Sign of the Knife." The latter features some fantastic emotional guitar playing from Ronald Brautigam, as he gives a touching nod to Steve Hackett, while singer Bik is right on target with his theatrical vocals that really fit the mood of the song.
It's amazing just how much this band has improved from the original live album recording some twenty years ago. After the Battle is without a doubt one of the better prog releases of the year, and highly recommended.