US - The Ghost Of Human Kindness

Year of Release: 2004
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:44:00

In the winter of 2004, the Dutch band US released their third full length album, The Ghost Of Human Kindness. Not long ago, I received a packet from the band and was allowed to listen to this latest release. Reminiscent of the sound of the 1970s and the early neo-prog sound of the early 80s, the bands accompanying letter invites the listener to take a journey back in time. Even lyrically, this CD is a trip into sentimentality and nostalgia, with a maudlin look into the memory of a 9/11 victim, longing looks at childhood passed and odes to powers greater than ourselves.

There is much to enjoy on the latest offering from US, and much that will sound somewhat familiar to the seasoned progressive rock listener. A first look at the CD's case will bring on ooh's and aah's from lovers of epic compositions, with three songs out of it's five coming in at over fourteen minutes each. Track two, "Domes" has the same menacing ostinato riffs of Genesis' "Watcher Of The Skies," and is also the most cohesive and satisfying work the band has to show us with this new effort. The next track, "Grand Canyon" seems far from progressive at first, reminding this writer of the sound of the Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac, circa Mystery To Me. This tune stretches out with a floating instrumental section featuring a nice Tony Banks-like keyboard solo from Ernest Wernars and a guitar solo that will bring Pink Floyd to mind. "The Dream" starts off with a pounding beat and echoing, chiming guitars, ala U2, and a dreamy center section in 5/4 that drives along a lengthy guitar solo from Peter de Frankrijker.

Though it contains many moments that will bring a smile to the lips of prog fans, The Ghost Of Human Kindness also has many moments of what I would characterize as compositional weakness. The two lengthiest tracks, "Full Circle" and the album's title track bear the most egregious examples of this problem. Both are almost painfully long, quite repetitious, and with little real thematic development, they are somewhat of a chore to get through. Worse is the bands reliance on studio technique to bind the elements of these "epics" together. Sections come to an abrupt end, fading out or echoing off into the distance, then a moment of silence or a wash of ambient sound and, presto, here comes a new part out of nowhere. The group fares best when hewing closely to the example of one of the greats, ("Dome," for instance, which is modeled closely to the sound of Genesis, circa 1972) or on a tune like "Grand Canyon," which wins the listeners attention and respect mainly through its directness and relative simplicity.

And respect is a word that will come into use once again. Even though I am not knocked out by this release, I am very impressed by the clear effort that has been made to present the band and their music in the most professional manner. The CD features striking cover artwork and a beautifully produced, twelve page booklet insert with lyrics, production notes and evocative photography. The sound of this self-produced work is on a par with most of the releases of this genre and the groups members are all good enough musicians, though vocalist Stephan Cristiaans will win no awards.

The Ghost Of Human Kindness is a solid, though flawed work. As this is the band's third CD release, they are obviously dedicated to the flowering of new progressive rock, and their next release will surely reveal ever more growth and provide ever more symphonic enjoyment. Take a look at this, and the band's other releases at

Full Circle (19:28) / Domes (14:22) / Grand Canyon (8:31) / The Dream (7:58) / The Ghost Of Human Kindness (17:18)

Jos Werars - bass guitar, acoustic & electric guitars, e-bow
Stephan Cristiaans - vocals, backing vocals
Ernest Wernars - keyboards
Paul van Velzen - drums, percussion
Peter de Frankrijker - lead guitar

Saga - To Whom It Concerns (1975/6)
The Wizzard Of Us (ltd. edition demo) (1990s)
A Sorrow In Our Hearts (2002)
Eamon''s Day (2003)
The Ghost of Human Kindness (2004)
The Young and the Restless (2006)
Reflections (2007)
Climbing Mount Improbable (2008)
Everything Changes (2009)
Feeding The Crocodile (2010)
The Road Less Travelled (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: March 29th 2005
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 618
Language: english


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