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ABYDOS

Abydos

 

Progressive Metal

4.04 | 96 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Clayreon
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Maybe the name ABYDOS doesn't tell you a lot, but knowing this is the newest solo project from Andy Kuntz, lead singer of the German progmetal band VANDEN PLAS, should raise the expectations. It hasn't become a very heavy album, and although it has its heavy moments, I'd rather classify it as real progressive rock. And to bring you the good news immediately, this is pure class. It's as if Kuntz has had some brilliant ideas for years, but couldn't let them escape with VANDEN PLAS. And yet, I'm a real VANDEN PLAS fan, but the music which their lead singer has put on this record, is even better, if possible, and certainly contains more variation.

Maybe some of you don't know that Andy Kuntz has been playing an active part for years in musicals and rock operas like "Jesus Christ Superstar', "Rocky Horror Show", "Evita" and "Nostradamus". And these influences have continued in his new project. Everything is a bit more melodic.

The name ABYDOS was chosen for a very special reason. It refers to an Egyptian tomb site in the Valley of the Kings, where Osiris, God of ethernal reincarnation, was worshipped. On the one side, ABYDOS is seen as the origin of the theatre, but the choice of name for this project was also inspired by the loss of some dearly beloved by Andy in 2003. That explains why the album is dark and melancholic from time to time, but that shouldn't lower the fun. In fact, it's telling a (autobiographic?) story by analogy with certain rock operas, inspired by the progressive rock of the seventies, but larded with a progmetal sauce. For this, Kuntz called upon 2 brilliant musicians, Stephan Glass and Michael Krauss and his drummer pal from VANDEN PLAS. And the latter pulls out all the stops during the opening track, a heavy instrumental piece. The sequel "You Broke The Sun" certainly is surprisingly quiet with a PINK FLOYD intro, but after a few minutes the tempo is accelerating and we get a real progressive, symphonic, yes, even bombastic, passage in a style that reminds me of DREAM THEATER in their better days. It's no coinsidence that his voice ressembles a bit Labrie's best vocals. The choirs in the background have a 'musical' feeling.

'Silence' starts of as some progressive metal in VANDEN PLAS style, but it turns out to contain a very melodic and catchy chorus. The electronic passage in the vain of Jean Michel JARRE is very interesting and comes just after a heavy guitar-keyboards duel, to be followed afterwards by a splashing guitar solo.

The beautiful ballad 'Far away from heaven' refers to AOR-bands of the seventies, but further along the track there's some brilliant symphonic music, the real prog fan will certainly like this track. And we are miles away from the heavy progmetal.

"Coppermoon" is a perfect hybrid between VANDEN PLAS, PAIN OF SALVATION and DREAM THEATER, references which are found more than once. Because of the symphonic character and the variation in guitar and keyboard solos, AYREON fans will certainly appreciate this disc. "Hyperion Sunset" proceeds under the same canvas.

"God's Driftwood" starts rather threatening and ominous and bulges with changes in tempo in good old seventies style, a typical LED ZEPPELIN riff with accompanying orchestral arrangements and a guitar solo that reminds me of URIAH HEEP. Hair- splitters will maybe tell you that this CD contains a lot of clichés, but when they are brought in a professional way, who's complaining? For that matter, I would even compare this album with "The Human Equation" from AYREON.

"Radio Earth" also contains a lot of influences, from electronic music from the eighties, to The WHO, QUEEN,..., beautifully woven into a musical tour de force. And not to forget, the superb pieces on the acoustic guitar. The originality of the tracks is mainly due to the strength of the compositions.

The title track "Abydos" sounds exceptionally dark and melancholic, but is again magnificent because of the orchestral arrangements in combination with the heavy proggy intermezzos and the excellent vocals. Breathtakingly beautiful. Andy's experience with musicals is coming to the surface. And just listen to the outro, it could be taken directly from a classical piece.

After a short piece with a computer voice and keyboards, there's "Wildflowersky", melodic progmetal à la VANDEN PLAS with again some musical and vocal highlights. And even if I was already convinced of the top quality of this album, the best song had yet to come. A beautiful classical introduction (I'm thinking of a certain composer, but I can't remember his name) opens "A Boy Named Fly" as a ballad, but the heavy guitars take the helm. Surprisingly how the voice reminds me here of KEN'S NOVEL but that's the only similarity. Once more, everything is present in this track and that's what makes this album so special.

Or, in a nutshell, this isn't another project from a frustrated musician, but a genuine masterpiece from a man who has used all his experience to make something unique. It's gonna be a difficult choice to pick a CD of the year 2004, this is from the same quality as KARMAKANIC and AYREON. And it should be obvious by now, you MUST buy this one!

My rating: 9,5/10

Review by Claude 'Clayreon' Bosschem

Clayreon | 5/5 |

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