Dutch drummer Koen Herfst is back with his second solo album, Leo, following 2016’s Back to Balance. Koen’s CV reads like a progger’s dream; he’s worked with After Forever, Epica, Anneke van Giersbergen, I CHAOS, Dew-Scented, and his own blues-rock band The Cards, among others. He’s also been voted Best Hard Rock Drummer of Benelux 5 years running. He also runs his own drum festival, HERFSTFEST, and co-organized the biggest drum event ever in the Netherlands in 2000, Drummers on the Beach, with his friend Cesar Zuiderwijk of Golden Earring. In addition to playing the drums, Koen is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Leo is a project near and dear to his heart, as it is mainly a tribute to his father who passed away during the work. Some beautiful piano playing from Koen’s father is also included in the music on these recordings.
Leo begins with July 20, 1984, a track featuring a metal cacophony intro, with Cookie Monster vocals and dark, foreboding riffs. Angel vocals, plodding riffs and super metal riffs follow,m and of course the keys. Some serious bass work and overall jamming on this number.
Dream Away is next, and is a sweet jam with clean vocals and busy drumming. A good jam, but not quite as heavy as the first or the next tune. Realization of the Inevitable features a cool drum intro and some cool rocking riffs, almost metal machine riffs ala Rammstein. Coffin and Carriage features more HM riffs. Bereaved is a lovely piano piece. Saying Your Name Out Loud includes super HM riffs, and almost leans towards thrash here and there.
D(e)ad has a creepy piano intro, and like many of the tracks is obviously about Koen’s father. I See Myself also has HM riffs. Are You Out There Somewhere? almost made me cry. Simple Life is a short piano piece. The title track follows, and is a dramatic, sprawling prog epic. All We Have is Now is the closer for today, and it rounds things out rather nicely.
Bottom line is this, folks: if you are into prog metal, and particularly the drumming end of those types of proceedings, then Leo is for you.
01. July 20, 1984
02. Dream Away
03. Realization of the Inevitable
04. Coffin and Carriage
06. Saying Your Name Out Loud
08. I See Myself
09. Are You Out There Somewhere?
10. Simple Life
12. All We Have Is Now
Playing Time: 63 minutes and 59 seconds
Anneke van Giersbergen (VUUR): vocals
Merijn van Haren (Navarone): vocals
Rob van der Loo (Epica): bass
Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater): keyboard solo
Paul Quinn (Saxon): guitar solo
Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation): guitar solo
Jord Otto (VUUR, My Propane): guitar solo
Mendel Bij de Leij (ex-Aborted): guitar solo
Ben Mathot (Ayreon): violin solo
Marcela Bovio (MaYaN): backing vocals
Harrison Young (The Cards): backing vocals