September 7, 2022

Any true rock fan will always be excited by the release of a new album by the German progressive metal masters especially as the band is currently in the form of its life. The band has always released excellent metal albums, delighting in experimenting and pushing the very boundaries of rock. The two previous works have been as good as prog metal gets with The Ghost Xperiment: Awakening & Illumination being simply stunning pieces and both are nothing short of masterful works of progressive metal genius. This level of brilliance comes at a price though as perfection takes a lot of crafting which means that Vanden Plas has not been the most prolific of rock bands although they do have ten quality albums under their collective belts since being formed in 1986. However, since the release of the far reaching The Seraphic Clockwork, the band has really been wrapped in just the two works but what magnificent concepts they have been with the Chronicles of the Immortal works with Netherworld (Path One) in 2014 and Netherworld II in 2015. Any other band would probably have rested on the laurels having released these two incredible instalments but this is Vanden Plas which is unlike any other band and then they set about the even more adventurous The Ghost Xperiment works with Awakening in 2019 and Illumination in 2020 and I am struggling to name two works as significant as these two in the prog metal world.

The guys are probably now ensconced on some paradise island recovering and recharging collective batteries whilst drinking tropical cocktails but the music business continues and the fans are forever screaming for new product. So, to keep everyone happy Frontiers has released this most excellent 2CD/DVD set which is also available as a stand-alone Blu-ray, limited edition 2LP set and digital download. However, it is the video that makes this set all the more exciting along with 101-minutes of the band live in concert. This ‘new’ recording takes us back to 30th December in 2016 and sees the band performing in their hometown of Kaiserslautern with the set mainly taken from the two Chronicles Of The Immortals albums with several fan favourites thrown in to please the locals. There are several delights in the set too including Scarlet Flower Fields and The Final Murder which it seems that the band had never previously performed live. Then add the likes of Holes In The Sky, Iodic Rain, Postcard To God and Christ 0 and you have a set of wonder and delight which the band totally kills. The sound is as perfect as a studio recording but has that real ‘live’ sound that makes rock such an exciting music form and the extra freedom that playing live gives truly allows the band to showcase their prodigious talents.

It’s truly thrilling to see Andy Kuntz (vocals), Stephan Lill (guitar), Andreas Lill (drums), Torsten Reichert (bass) and Günter Werno (keyboards) working as one in harmony and the guys have a real synergy and energy about their approach and the fact they know each other so well allows them to deliver such a high quality set on which the tempo never drops. Indeed, any aspiring young band should study this set as this shows how the masters do it and what a performance the band gives. The guitar of Stephen Lill is exceptional and in Andy Kuntz the band has a real showman and a truly exceptional vocalist. If you ever had any doubts that Vanden Plas was up there with the likes of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche and Fates Warning then listen/watch this set and wonder no more, sheer magnificence.

The DVD features the full set shown below along with 26-minutes of video clips featuring Holes In The Sky, Godmaker, Stones Roses Edge and When The World Is Falling Down which is a nice touch and the liner notes features some great shots of the band in action. The video itself is excellent with plenty of great camera angles that put you at the heart of the action and it is almost like being on the stage. The light show is very good giving a perfect frame for the band to weave their magic which they do with aplomb. All the musicians command the stage and the audience is enthralled and fully entertained throughout the performance by the all action rock than Vanden Plas serves up making this a wonderful souvenir for all those present and makes all of us who missed out so jealous that we were not there!

Live & Immortal

CD1

  1. Intro (Vision 1Ne) (0:49)
  2. Godmaker (5:23)
  3. Into The Sun (7:28)
  4. Frequency (6:51)
  5. Scarlet Flower Fields (6:43)
  6. Holes In The Sky (5:32)
  7. I Can See (4:24)
  8. Diabolica Comedia (7:03)
  9. Stone Roses Edge (6:42)

CD2

  1. How Many Tears (10:16)
  2. The Last Fight (7:40)
  3. Iodic Rain (5:55)
  4. The Final Murder (11:34)
  5. Christ 0 (5:42)
  6. Postcard To God (8:46