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Vanden Plas - The Empyrean Equation of the Long Lost Things CD (album) cover


Vanden Plas


Progressive Metal

3.81 | 30 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I have been reviewing Vanden Plas for more than quarter of a century, and while there are times when their albums are somewhat workmanlike, there are plenty of others where they are truly phenomenal. My first look at this release did cause me some surprise though, as they are famed for having kept the same line-up throughout their career, yet for the first time since their debut 'The Colour Temple' (1994) that is not case. While Andy Kuntz (vocals), Stephan Lill (guitar), Andreas Lill (drums), and Torsten Reichert (bass) are all still there, keyboard player GŁnter Werno is no longer involved, and his place has been taken by Frontiers in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio who is one of those musicians who has the ability to be in multiple different bands at the same time.

Even though there has been that change in personnel, in many ways this is a direct continuation from their last release, 2020's 'The Ghost Xperiment ? Illumination'. It is highly theatrical, heavily influenced by Savatage in particular, with complex arrangements and music shifting from heavy and dynamic to peaceful and tranquil, often in the same line. Kuntz is a stunning singer, but it takes him some time to make his impact on this album which commences with some simple piano, thunder in the distance, as it creates an emotional entrance. We get a back and call with the guitar, and gradually the band starts to build with dramatic drumming and orchestrations, and then we are into melodic prog metal with plenty of crunch and drive, but it is still not time for Andy to make his entrance as the band continue to develop themes. It is one of the most powerful introductions to an album I have ever come across, as just three minutes in and already the listener is fully invested as the shredding and bombast is there. Just when one thinks it is going to continue in the same vein it drops back, the piano takes over, and then Andy is there ? it just took four minutes for him to make the right entrance.

The album is dynamic and powering throughout, a wonderful example of polished progressive metal, with the only complaint being that the polish has been lathered on just a little too thickly. There is not enough clarity and distinction within the arrangements, and it is only that which prevents me from awarding the album full marks. Alessandro joined the band too late to have any impact on the songwriting, so it will be interesting to see where they go next, but as it is this is yet another fine album from one of top bands in the genre.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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