Monday, February 24, 2014

Vanden Plas - Chronicles of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1) (2014)

The German progressive metal band Vanden Plas are no beginners when it comes to making an epic concept album, so it was no surprise that their seventh full-length album would be another epic saga. But this time, they have embraced the stories told by the German author Wolfgang Hohlbein (who happens to be a fan of the band) and put his writing into a more musical form. A project so big that it was not enough to fit in only one album (second album has no set release date yet).

"Chronicles of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)" is a story about an immortal man and an evil god creator. The immortal man goes out on a quest towards Pantheon (under the influence of the god creator) to seize the throne against the old gods. But in order to do so, he has to give up his humanity. I am sure I would know the story even deeper if this tale would have been released in English or Swedish (almost all of Wolfgang's books has only been released in German), but what I can come across is that the story is really intriguing and unique. This story has also been portrayed in a theater play entitled "Bloodnight" that is made, and performed, by the band and has been displayed several times in the German town Kaiserslautern. (btw, the show has sold out around 25 times with an audience amount of 750 people per night).

But what really matters is if the band has succeeded in transforming this story into a Vanden Plas album. And I can assure you all that they have done just that. This album is Vanden Plas all the way through with its epic melodies and well constructed song structures. Well, except for "The King And The Children of The Lost World" that sounds more like a Dream Theater tune, but that does not stop me from liking this track a lot. But if you are well known with the band, then you will probably know what to expect from this release.

This album is best experienced in its entirety, but the band has also succeeded in making songs that can stand strong by themselves. One good example of just that is "Godmaker", a track that was released earlier this year together with an interesting video. It fits neatly together with the other tracks in this album, but it is even stronger on its own with its heavy riffs and ultra epic chorus. I loved this track the first time I heard it, and I still love it to this date. "Godmaker" stands out a little more because together with "Soul Alliance", it is the only song that puts its focus on the heaviness, while other tracks like "The Black Knight" and "New Vampyre" are more progressive and epic, which I think is more fitting for both the story and Vanden Plas's style.

And when it comes to the band itself, they do a really good job on their respective positions, but I am still a little two sided about Andy Kuntz's singing style. He is certainly unique, but is his voice good enough to lift the songs to its maximum potential? I am not sure of that, but he is far from the worst vocalist in the business, so I wont complain.

The second part of this saga will probably be released during 2015, which is a shame since I cannot wait for it to be released. This album is a very even album with no bad song anywhere in sight. It is instead a strong concept album that is definitely worthy of being a part of Vanden Plas's impressive discography. I am still baffled that this band has not gotten more recognition for their work, but I hope that more people will realize that this band is one of the top progressive acts in metal. But for the next album, please do not put Vision 1ne, Vision 2wo and so on in front of the tracks. It looks incredibly tacky for an otherwise professional and impressive album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Godmaker, The Black Knight, The King And The Children of Lost World, Soul Alliance

Rating: 9/10 Visions

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