A Liquid Landscape is a young band from the northern part of The Netherlands playing a mixture of progressive, alternative and power rock. The band consist of Fons Herder (vocals, guitar), Niels van Dam (guitar), Robert van Dam (bass) and Coen Speelman (drums). My first acquaintance with the band dates from September 2011, when they shared the stage with the Polish prog metal band Riverside (see review). After listening to their promo-CD, consisting of two songs as a preview for the full-length album Nightingale Express, I was quite impressed by the high quality of the music. Therefore I'm glad to notice that the other songs on the album has the same high level as the two songs I already heard.
Intense' is the first word that crossed my mind after I heard the first notes of the title track. It neither has a progressive sound, nor a heavy guitar, but just a relaxed guitar accompanied by strong vocals and melodies that lead to a smooth middle-section followed by a more powerful end. The vocals of guitarist Fons Herder remind me a bit of Kevin Martin, the lead singer of Candlebox, mainly due to the intensity and the emotional way he sings. I think their music has been influenced by bands like Porcupine Tree, The Pineapple Thief, Radiohead, Dregd and some hidden parts of Tool. In June Fifth and The Unreachable I also heard some hints to Muse; in Phases the bass and the guitars sound heavy distorted. A song like Thieves Of Time sounds dark and emotional holding one of the strongest vocal parts of the album; sometimes it's almost depressing. In opposition Out Of Line starts with a very modern bass line with slight post rock influences. With these two songs I was already familiar, because they appeared on the aforementioned promo-CD.
Concerning the vocals I think that Come On Home is another highlight; it's melodic but darker and emotional with smooth drumming in the background and a guitar that just supports the song without taking it over. A gentle guitar sound starts Secret Isle; the smooth vocals of Fons Herder have been doubled here with a nice female voice. This provides for a great effect; it's an almost hypnotizing song that ends an unexpected pleasant album.
I'm glad that I got the opportunity to witness A Liquid Landscape on stage, otherwise I would probably never had the chance to listen to Nightingale Express. Musically I don't think this album belongs to the progressive rock genre, but it contains surprisingly strong and intelligent rock music. When you like to think out of the 'prog rock box', you might like A Liquid Landscape. I have no doubt in my mind; this music has a high quality level that deserves a great podium like Pinkpop or Lowlands! I would like to end with a quote from the band, which basically says it all. 'Washed up, tired and staggering across a beach in the early hours of the morning. Somewhere in the twilight between desperation and surrender, there is still a glimmer of hope. That sense that everything will be alright, no matter what the odds are. This is what A Liquid Landscape sounds like.'
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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