Knight Area is hands down my favorite progressive rock band of the twenty-first century. To date the band has released six studio albums and two live albums. Knight Area began as a studio project of keyboardist Gerben Klazinga. The first album, The Sun Also Rises (2004), was recorded with the assistance of several guest musicians. After the album’s release Klazinga recruited musicians to form a proper band.
I am enamored by Knight Area’s brand of melodic progressive rock. The band’s sound brings together music from the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. The band’s biggest influence is clearly 1970’s Genesis. Listen further and you hear other influences ranging from 1970’s Queen, Kansas, 1980’s Journey, early Marillion, Pendragon and IQ.
Musically the band has been keyboard driven. Band founder and main songwriter Gerben Klazinga provides the lushly vibrant keyboard sounds. It is clear that he is a disciple of Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks. The albums of Knight Area are filled with wonderful keyboard sounds. The songs contain many well played and tasteful keyboard solos.
Even with the heavy keyboard presence there has been plenty of room for guitars in the music. Over the course of the band’s career they have primarily had two extremely talented guitarists in the band. From 2004 to 2012 Mark Vermeule held this role. From 2012 to present it has been Mark Bogert. At times the guitars of Knight Area have been a bit heavier than other progressive rock bands. Heavy, yet not heavy enough to call them a progressive metal band. The band’s bassist’s, Gijs Koopman (2004 to 2012) and Peter Vink (2012 to present) have been prominent in the mix as well. During their time in the band both have ably provided nimble bass lines and dramatic bass pedals. Drummer Pieter Van Hoorn has been excellent. He has helped to propel the music along, even if at times it is in an odd time signature.
Klazinga and vocalist Mark Smit have been the constants in the band. They are the only members who have appeared on every Knight Area album. I feel that Smit is the perfect vocalist for Knight Area. Sometimes you hear a band and think that they would sound great with a different singer. This is not the case with Knight Area. Mark Smit is the perfect fit and I could not imagine this band without his voice. His zeal for the music of Knight Area comes through in his passionate vocals.
All of their albums are chock full of incredible progressive rock. As of now the band’s third album, Realm Of Shadows (2009) remains my favorite. It is an extremely dramatic and compelling concept album. We are in a day and age where concept albums have become common place. Among the crowded field of progressive rock concept albums Realm Of Shadows stands out.
Knight Area, like any great band, has steadily progressed as time has gone by. Six albums into their career and the band’s sound has slowly evolved. Their latest album, Heaven And Beyond (2017) finds the band in transition. The heavy Genesis influence of early albums has lessened. Guitarist Mark Bogert has also taken on a more prominent songwriting role. Overall Heaven And Beyond is less keyboard driven. The guitar is a bit more in the forefront. The songs are more accessible, but make no mistake Knight Area is still a progressive rock band. On their earlier albums the band clearly wore their influences on their sleeves. With each album the band has slowly progressed and refined their sound down to pure Knight Area music. I applaud Knight Area for continuing to advance their art. They could have easily rested on their laurels and put out albums that were carbon copies of their earlier releases.
As a fan of this truly amazing band it has been a joy following their musical journey. The early Genesis inspired sounds were a big reason for my initial attraction to this band. But Knight Area were always more than that, they create fantastic progressive rock music. The band has utilized their various influences to produce some of my favorite progressive rock of the twenty-first century. If you are a fan of bands like Genesis, Pendragon, Marillion and IQ there is a great chance that you will like Knight Area as well.