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Chain Reaktor – Homesick Award winner

Chain Reaktor
by Mark Machlay at 15 July 2021, 7:22 AM

CHAIN REAKTOR are a fresh, modern, heavy progressive rock band from the Netherlands set to release their full-length debut “Homesick” on Freia Music. Their music is groovy, often heavy, and twisty-turny but always with a strong melodic link connecting all their parts. The band was formed around the two, young, talented brothers Bart Laan on vocals, guitar and flute along with drummer Arjen Laan who have their own band SKYLAKE than leans more toward alternative but still progressive rock. Together with the help of their father Erik Laan – known for his work with neo-prog group SILHOUETTE – the music and lyrics were soon written for the record. They soon sought out a groovy bass player and enlisted Mark op ten Berg who has a background working in soul and funk. The band’s name is a reflection of the passion for music that is often passed from to generation to generation, like an unstoppable chain reaction.

With the band’s debut album “Homesick”, the aim was to capture feelings that may manifest by a lack of belonging in the modern world, as if the world has moved too fast beyond you and you now feel lost. In today’s urban life, we often feel profound loneliness when standing in a crowd. “Homesick” acts as a journey to help to find who you truly want to be in the midst of the treacherous temptations of these isolating cities. Several guests contributed to the album such as Suzan van den Engel on backing vocals, saxophone from Martin Streckfuss, and Sophie Zaaijer on violin who has collaborated with German symphonic metal band LEAVES’ EYES. The artwork for the album is provided by graphic designer Aldo Adema, who is a great guitarist in his own right, known for playing with bands EGDON HEATH and TUMBLE TOWN. Many different generations and forms of family contribute to this record, making it something extra special based on the personnel alone.

For their first album, CHAIN REAKTOR has birthed a more than decent debut with “Homesick” owing much to the lighter side of heavy prog like PORCUPINE TREE, NEAL MORSE BAND, and THE FLOWER KINGS. The album has such an organic feeling, only helping to solidify the theme of trying to cope with the modern world with in injection of natural, yet complex sounding heavy prog music. Album opener “The Day That Never Came” starts with djembe-sounding hand percussion but gives way to 80-sounding synths, appropriately crunchy, yet updated Alec Lifeson guitar sound with catchy guitar leads, taking the listener on a relaxed, philosophical journey with great flute contributions. The singing is that laid back and smooth tenor similar to the likes of Stephen Wilson or Mikael Akerfeldt. More flute exploration starts “Lonely City” and aching guitar leads, with beautifully blended vocal harmonies provided by Suzan Van Den Engel and shows off a groovier side to the group. Title track “Homesick” represents the strong slow ballad at the perfect midpoint of the album, featuring exquisite sax work provided by Martin Streckfuss among a sea of a synth heaven. Lots of atmosphere but plenty of rocking moments as well, CHAIN REAKTOR represents a radiant blending of excellent production, talented musicianship and maybe even the aid of familiarity that can be achieved in prog, and is perfect for fans of lighter, yet still heavy prog such as TRANSATLANTIC, EVERGREY, and RUSH.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. The Day That Never Came
2. Lonely City
3. Enjoy Your Life
4. The Lying King
5. Homesick
6. Stop Yelling
7. A Thousand Diamonds
Arjen Laan – Drums & Percussion
Bart Laan – Lead/Backing Vocals, Guitars & Flute
Erik Laan – Lead/Backing Vocals, Keyboards & Bass Pedals
Mark op ten Berg – Bass
Record Label: Freia Music


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