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Facing The Sunset

a Studio release

Release Year: 2005

Date Label Catalog # Comments
Released by Mangrovian Music
Added To Proggnosis Database on: 12/10/2005 12:00:00 AM
Entry Last Updated on: 8/25/2011 8:17:00 AM by: Rob
  1. Facing the Sunset
  2. I fear the day
  3. There must be another day
  4. Heddin Dreams
Roland van der Horst
guitars, lead vocals
Chris Jonker
Joost Hagemeijer
drums, vocals
Pieter Drost

Reviewed by Nuno on 28 Dec 2005

Starting to impose themselves in the Neo-Progressive scene, this Dutch band has just released their third album, a conceptual work about the search of a person for the true inner self.

Having just four tracks that clock from 10 to over 20 minutes, the band really takes the time to explore its musicality, experiencing different themes and approaches within each and every track.
If the basing style does remind me of other Dutch bands such as Like Wendy, Sinister Street or even Maryson in some parts, the music also draws some tangents to the old school symphonic sound of Genesis or even Yes in some sparse parts.
This does not mean that Mangrove is only concerned in translating old formulas to mend an album. On the contrary, the band does use those influences in a positive way, allowing them to flow freely or entwined throughout the album, and arranging them in a way that the album does not by all means sound like a collage of influences. The greater merit of this band and this particular album is indeed the capacity of the band to create a solid and tight piece of work that allows them to have their own signature while referring to a well defined gamut of reminiscences.
While the vocals are not the best thing about this band, they are not the most important as well, as the band strives to deliver their major goods in the long instrumental passages that highly populate this album. Ok, fair is fair, and I must state that those same vocals, if not great, are not bad at all either and they do fit the basic melancholic and emotional feel of the music.
The keyboards and soloing guitars are the main instruments in this album, and while the keyboards add that deep symphonic sound, the main guitar delivers long and melodic soloing units that are most common in Neo-Prog outfits. I, for one, would rather consider this band more into the symphonic side of things than in that of the so many times criticized Neo-Prog genre.
The band works extremely well with emotions, setting different moods with ease and confidence. If I Fear the Day is more on the melancholic and even bucolic side of things, the following There Must be Another Way presents a more powerful feel, representing a will and an inner force of the main character of the story in search for different perspectives upon his life and personality. This is probably the track where the Genesis connection is better achieved and displayed (especially in the first few minutes), and it does comprehend a beautiful acoustic part in its middle section. The guitar soloing that follows is very emotional and long, starting with a melancholy vibe that grows into a more aggressive and confident feel. In global terms, this all instrumental track can be considered the best example of the bands musicality, as it is very well constructed and it flows perfectly.
The final Opus track does have a singing style close to that of Jon Anderson, while the music only occasional touches the Yes fields. In fact, it has more in common with Genesis or Flamborough Head in musical terms, but maintaining a secure own identity.
I find it surprising that, contrary to many of the albums that cross or trespass the Neo-Prog boundaries, this one tends to grow on the listener after the first listen, while most of the other albums that normally stand inside that genre are enjoyable at first listen and then decrease their interest. This, by my standards, can only be seen as a compliment…

Anyway, here is a fine example of melodic and accessible Symphonic Prog with many characteristics that are normally associated with Neo-Prog. And Mangrove seems to me like a secure name to follow in next releases. If you are into contemporary Symphonic and Neo-Prog, with the usual references to vintage bands, Facing the Sunset will undoubtedly be a very nice add to your collection.