All My Shadows in a new band that many progressive rock fans will already be aware of as it is a new unit put together by guitarist Stephan Lill and vocalist Andy Kuntz of the most superior German progressive metal band Vanden Plas.
It seems that Lill conceived the project to be more of an ’80s influenced hard rock band especially as his self-confessed influences come from the likes of Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne and Dokken. The plan was for Andy Kuntz to write the lyrics with a variety of different vocalists bringing the music to life but after recording a couple of demos both felt that the logical choice to move forward was for Kuntz to sing all of the songs himself. The search then began for like-minded musicians and they did not have to look far with Stephan’s brother and fellow Vanden Plas drummer being recruited alongside keyboard player Markus Teske who is also the owner of the Bazement Studios and has been involved in mixing Vanden Plas albums for the last 20-years so Lill and Kuntz have definitely gone with what they know. The only non Vanden Plas themed musician is bass player Franky R who has experience with the likes of Michael Schenker so is an ideal fit. I guess the real question that most people will as is whether the music is close to the classic Vanden Plas sound or something that is radically different and it truly is a very relevant question as if it is too similar in sound, style and substance then why create the project and if it is so diverse or radically different then would it then alienate the core Vanden Plas fan?
It appears that Lill believes that All My Shadows is a worthy stand-alone concept given that Vanden Plas is an exotic progressive metal band with all on the ensuing technical complexities and totally engrossing story arcs whilst this new band is perceived as a more straight forward hard rock band and whilst this is true you also have to acknowledge that when you have three out of five members of Vanden Plas in your band including the singer and guitarist then the music has to be similar regardless of how much you try to change it; as the old saying goes ‘if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck’! The band then throws in comparisons with outfits like Ghost, Stone Sour and SOEN which is all well and good but if you ask me then they sound like Vanden Plas! Please, this is not a criticism as I love Vanden Plas (and as you can see, I simply cannot squeeze the band’s name in enough times) and any new album and, indeed, off-shoot is to be relished and cherished!
All My Shadows is a hard rock band that also incorporates progressive metal and a little progressive rock into their sound with the songs being hard, complex and melodic with soaring vocals and blistering guitar and plenty of quite stunning keyboard passages from Markus Teske with his playing being nothing short of revelatory. We all know by now just how good a vocalist Andy Kuntz is and he again shows the power he has at his disposal but, as always, it is tempered with superb control and he has the amazing ability to infuse so much emotion into his delivery that every song he performs takes on a an almost talismanic aura. The album is most definitely contemporary hard rock with some very hard edges but still retains the progressive flourishes and complex passages that Vanden Plas do so well and actually reminds of an early Dream Theater. The songs are well defined and anthemic although Farewell stands alone being different to everything else on the album as it is a rather slow and pop influenced ballad which shows a different side to the band but, in my opinion, does seem to spoil the flow of the record but each to his own!
To call All My Shadows Vanden Plas-lite is to do the band a great disservice as this is an exception progressive metal release which is what we all would have expected anyway and I’m sure the boys were looking to produce something a little less complex and grandiose after completing the compelling and quite masterful The Ghost Xperiment two-part set that set new standards in progressive metal concept circles. If you do not like Vanden Plas then this album will most probably not change your opinion but if you are into them an all things progressive metal or even technical hard rock then this album is an absolute delight with each new spin delivering up additional nuances that will ensure it remains an ever-present on your player.
- Silent Waters (5:00)
- A Boy Without A Name (6:07)
- Syrens (5:52)
- Lifeforms (5:05)
- Wolverinized (7:00)
- The Phantoms Of The Dawn (4:11)
- Farewell (4:52)
- Devil’s Ride (4:59)
- All My Eerie Monsters (5:49)