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Vanden Plas - The Ghost Xperiment - Illumination CD (album) cover

THE GHOST XPERIMENT - ILLUMINATION

Vanden Plas

 

Progressive Metal

4.09 | 69 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars I have been a fan of Vanden Plas right from the beginning, but it must be said that I thought their last album was fairly workmanlike and contained little to make it essential. Given that it was the first part of a two-part concept, and here we have the second, there was little which had me looking forward to playing it. But just by putting this on for the very first time, I found myself falling in love with Vanden Plas all over again. There are very few bands who can say they have kept the same line-up since their formation in 1986, but Vanden Plas can, which is quite some achievement, although they do also utilize guests when the time is right. Andy Kuntz (vocals), Stephan Lill (guitar), GŁnter Werno (keyboards), Andreas Lill (drums) and Torsten Reichert (bass) have been joined by Alea from the leading German medieval rock band Saltatio Mortis for a duet on the bonus track "Krieg kennt keine Sieger", Snow White Blood singer Ulli Perhonen is here for "Black Waltz Death" and "The Ghost Engineers", while the backing vocalists include longtime musical colleagues Oliver Hartmann from Avantasia and Herbie Langhans from Firewind.

Everything which was wrong with the last one is right with this one, with loads of progressive elements over the metal without ever becoming overblown. Savatage are still a huge influence, with biting riffs and cutting lyrics, and vocals which are kept to the fore. The band have always been theatrical, performing their own rock opera as well as Jon Lord's 'Concerto For Group and Orchestra' while finalizing the album (because, why not?), and here it all gels together. Powerful and powering, here we have progressive metal as its finest. They may have lost their way with the last album, but they have more than recovered ground with this one, creating something which is simply epic. It crunches when it needs to, caresses when the time is right, and at the front there is Kuntz showing he is still the consummate frontman he has always been.

I mentioned in passing to a friend that I was listening to VDP the other day as I had to review it and he was immediately incredibly excited until I pointed out it was not a new release, but one from a year ago, and he promptly started telling me just how good they are and what a great album this is. We disagree on various matters, but this time he is right, German theatrical epic prog metal just doesn't get any better than this.

kev rowland | 5/5 |

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