Arabesque - The Union

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: LMC 2216 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 76:15:00

Though the talented Dutch band Arabesque have been around for quite some time, multiple chops and changes in the band's lineup have meant that they've only released two full length albums - The Union and their instrumental debut, Beyond The Veil (1994 on Shark records, and unfortunately out of print!). Beginning as a jazz-metal fusion trio in the late eighties, Arabesque has also seen a major change in their style over the past decade. With six members and a heavier, prog-metal approach by the time of The Union, Arabesque has come a long way, and attracted plenty of positive attention as it went. They have won multiple awards, shared the stage with some of the biggest names in international prog circles, and generally caused a stir.

So in the light of all that, how does The Union measure up?

On this album, Arabesque enjoys the luxury of two female lead singers (Katia Salemi and Nicole de Serriere du Bizournet) - something which instantly sets them apart in a male-dominated genre. Partnered with founding members Marc van Mierlo (drums) and Joop Wolters (guitar), as well as newer additions René Ubachs (keyboards, backing vocals) and Frank de Groot (bass), the talent present in this band is worthy of interest. From the very first listen I felt I was onto something special with The Union.

The vocal ability displayed by the ladies is extraordinary - they are equally capable of delivering soulful serenade (a la the Christine McVie / Stevie Nicks duo from Fleetwood Mac), primal scream, death growl, and belting rock. The range they display competes easily with many of the progressive male singers I've heard. To sample their skills, I'd recommend "Haunted," which out of all their songs provides the fullest variety of the talents they offer. On the musical side, Arabesque is a very well-melded ensemble, which seems to prefer to stay together rather than breaking off into individual noodling solos. There are a few exceptions; for example, there is a lovely Ubachs keyboard solo towards the end of "Freaking," and a guitar passage from Wolters to listen for in "Last Attempt." The Liquid Tension-esque instrumental "Instant Daydream" also gives the musicians some free rein to do some showing off.

In case it wasn't entirely clear, I really enjoyed this album and highly recommend it. There's nothing more I need to add. I'm very much looking forward to forthcoming Arabesque releases, and in the process of hunting down older ones. This is most definitely one to try out.

Similar to: Liquid Tension Experiment, Dream Theater

[This review originally appeared May 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Freaking (7:35) / Haunted (7:23) / Inner Voice (6:28) / Last Attempt (7:33) / Naked (6:15) / Captured (8:25) / Instant Daydream (8:20) / Heal Me (6:20) / The Union (7:11) / Emotions (4:48) / Afraid To Fly (6:07)

Joop Wolters - guitar
Rene Ubachs -keyboards
Marc van Mierlo -drums
Frank de Groot - bass
Nicole de Seriere -vocals
Katja Salemi - vocals

Beyond The Veil (1994)
The Union (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: December 8th 2004
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 1037
Language: english


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