So, how do you follow the quite magnificent and sublime Chronicles Of The Immortal World Parts One and Two, the outrageously epic sci-fi collaboration the band produced with the German author Wolfgang Hohlbein? Well, you start by taking time to recharge the batteries and then make a triumphant return, albeit a slightly delayed one, with what is sure to become another magnum opus for them. Those who know Vanden Plas, the somewhat magnificent, mean and moody German progressive metal masters, will fully appreciate this new album which is in two parts with the second element being Ghost Xperiment – Illumination due sometime next year.
Anyone new to the band will be amazed at their vitality and energy and will discover a band on a par with the American heavyweights of Dream Theater and Queensryche but all with a delicious Teutonic twist. Vanden Plas seem to specialise in dark and dramatic progressive metal with each song definitely having that ‘epic’ sound and the subject matter of this concept is profound and spectacular as it delves deep into the paranormal being a tale of despair, demons and a journey to the very gates of hell. I’m assuming that the second part of the tale will feature some form of redemption for the main character of the tale but you actually never quite know what is going to happen in the world of Vanden Plas as they always seem to keep throwing in surprises. Again, grandiose is a word that always springs to mind when listening to them and The Ghost Xperiment shows they can be brutal, beautiful and reflective in what they offer for our entertainment. Andy Kuntz delivers the story with his usual panache and rarely has he sounded better with Stephan Lill again being imperious on guitar and his work is so frenetic that they really do sound like a twin guitar band. Günter Werno provides sterling keyboards and stands shoulder to shoulder with Lill as they trade guitar and keyboard runs giving something of a symphonic feel to the proceedings and it is left to Torsten Reichert (bass) and Andreas Lill (drums) to give the power to their somewhat unique sound that makes them so full of wonder, portent and might.
This is a band with a clear strategy and a wealth of talent and they delight in taking tales of darkness and despair and turning them into uplifting and provocatively epic pieces of monstrous metal. I thought that they would not be able to improve on Chronicles Of The Immortal World and I was totally, totally wrong. Vanden Plas is a band who can currently do no wrong and Ghost Xperiment – Awakening is a musical force of nature that will simply blow you all away. Magnificent!