Knight Area are a five-piece progressive rock band hailing from Holland. Realm Of Shadows is the band’s latest release and one of my favorite music finds of the year. Musically, Knight Area remind me of Spock’s Beard, Genesis and Marillion, with a strong emphasis on melody. Though Knight Area sometimes veer toward progressive metal, it’s not with the vengeance of Dream Theater or the pyrotechnics of Symphony X. Knight tout themselves as “symphonic rock,” and are worth investigating if your tastes run toward classic prog. Chief songwriter and keyboardist Gerben Klazinga is a skilled arranger with a talented surrounding cast surrounding: Mark Smit (vocals), Mark Vermeule (guitars), Gijs Koopman (bass) and Pieter van Hoorn (drums). Staying with the Spock’s Beard comparison, Smit’s voice has a smooth – almost friendly – quality that characterizes Neal Morse’s pipes. And that’s just what this music needs – it has an air of grace and sparkle that would suffer in the presence of a screamer.
Koopman and van Hoorn form a tantalizing rhythm section that makes these already excellent songs even better. What struck me most overall is that Knight Area plays as a “band,” without empty displays of virtuosity or yielding to temptations of extending tunes to fill 80 minutes of a compact disc. Realm Of Shadows is a refreshing return to songwriting in the sometimes muddled world – a world I love very much – of progressive rock.
Thanks to Ken Golden and the forward-looking folks at The Laser’s Edge – a record label not afraid to take chances on and champion promising bands – Knight Area should find a welcoming audience in North America. It’s most deserved exposure and a Dutch treat for you and me.