Every song tells a story. But sometimes a whole record tells us a story. A story straight for from the heart of the composer. And one of these record is ‘LEO’, the second solo album of the Dutch drummer and composer Koen Herfst.
Koen is one of the most famous drummers I know. He already worked with Armin van Buuren, ‘Epica‘, ‘The Gentle Storm‘ (with Anneke van Giersbergen) and many more. And he is awarded ‘Best Hardrock/Metal drummer of the Benelux’, even for 5 years in a row (chosen by the readers of ‘Slagwerkkrant’ magazine).
But let’s go back to the album ‘LEO’. Leo is the name of Koen’s father. Unfortunately Koen didn’t know his father, he passed away when Koen was only 10 months old. During a household move Koen found some personal belongings of his father and this was the start for composing this album. One of the most important items is the piano his dad just used to play on. He even moved it to his own studio and most of the song on this album he composed on this piano.
On the album Koen will try to tell us this tragic story trough music. And I think he did it on a most fabulous way. Listening at the album it sounds like a real rock/metal opera. Koen is not only playing the drums on the album but also most of the guitar parts.
The album has four main characters. So there is the mother, the father, death (by person) and, of course, the sun. These characters are played by Anneke van Giersbergen , Merijn van Haren (‘Navaronne‘) and Koen plays Death (voice with effects) and the son. The album tells the tragic story from the characters point of view, expressing their emotions, thoughts and feelings.
And if you look to the tracing list of the album you will get a good impression of what the album will tell us. And if you listen to the songs it will get you immediately into the thoughts and feeling of Koen. But it’s his way to give expression to his thoughts, feelings and questions.
- July 20, 1984
- Dream Away
- Realization of the Inevitable
- Coffin & Carriage
- Saying Your Name Out Loud
- I See Myself
- Are You Out There Somewhere?
- Simple Life
- All We Have is Now
When you listen only to the music (and not to the lyrics) you have to admit that Koen is a fabulous composer. There is a lot of attention for every detail in the album. And if you look at the list of guest artist on the album you can see that Koen only works with the best. He did it together with:
Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
Rob van der Loo (Epica)
Paul Quinn (Saxon)
Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation)
Jord Otto (Vuur, My Propane)
Mendal Bij de Leij (ex-Aborted)
Ben Mathot (Ayreon)
Marcela Bovio (MaYaN)
Harrison Young (DORO, ex-U.D.O.)
And the most difficult part is to give this album a rating. It’s a very personal album because it tells Koen’s story. And I think it would be difficult to understand for people if you don’t know how it is when you have lost a very dear member of your family and even didn’t know him.
But when we look at it as a regular album it’s not so difficult. It’s really is a masterpiece. The songs (of maybe I better can say parts) are very well done. There is attention for details and the voices matches just great with the music. The album creates a bit dark atmosphere but I think that’s exactly the way I must sound. The only thing I can say is “just listen to it” and find out.
Reading the story behind the album and listening to the it for me it’s 90/100.
The album is released July 14. The birthday of Leo, Koen’s father.
Stream the album on your digital platform of choice here: