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


Vanden Plas


Progressive Metal

3.81 | 32 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars Germany's VANDEN PLAS was one of the pioneering progressive metal bands forming as far back as 1984 and joining the ranks of Dream Theater, Psychotic Waltz, Mekong Delta and a bunch of others in the 1990s by delivering some of the most cutting edge metal meets prog the decade had to offer. The band has weathered the storms for well over four decades now and even produced four rock operas. VANDEN PLAS' prog metal creds are undeniable and yet somehow this band has remained just outside of my grasp. Although i've heard of them for years and even checked out an album or two, there was just something about them i found off-putting. Well, sometimes it's unwise to sample the proper nectar before one is ready to glean the benefits and i figured it's time to once again dip into the musical world of VANDEN PLAS since the band is obviously in no hurry to set up a retirement plan.

Although the band debuted in 1994 with its first release "Colour Temple," the band has never been in a rush to pump out as much product as possible. The latest album THE EMPYREAN EQUATION OF THE LONG LOST THINGS is the band's 12th album and it's absolutely amazing that this band has pretty much kept the same lineup since its 1994 debut. The exception to this long lasting stability was broken when keyboardist GŁnter Werno departed in 2023 and for the first time VANDEN PLAS had to scout out some new talent to fill his shoes. The band found a suitable replacement with Italian born Alessandro Del Vecchio who has been well seasoned in a number of bands including Alex Beyrodt's Voodoo Circle, Sunstorm and Silent Force. Given his prog rock / power metal / hard rock creds, a perfect candidate for VANDEN PLAS' classic prog metal sound that seems to remain firmly planted in the 1990s.

While the world of progressive metal has evolved exponentially since the 90s and branched out into every possible direction conceivable, VANDEN PLAS has retained its ties to the early heavy metal and power metal roots that spawned the more progressive metal variations that emerged in the 1990s. The band features the same style of guitar riffing and accompanying solos, melancholic atmospheres, frenetic keyboard runs, high pitched vocals and the typical melodic and rhythmic drive that made the earliest variations of prog metal so endearing. Not much has changed in the VANDEN PLAS camp as the same formulaic approach as always has been implemented. THE EMPYREAN EQUATION OF THE LONG LOST THINGS features six tracks and adds up to the 55 minute plus mark. The tracks are mostly on the longer side with every track clocking in at over six minutes and the lengthiest grand finale "March Of The Saints" approaching the 16-minute mark.

The album starts off with the title track and showcases beautiful piano rolls and the classic build of tension that merges into the prog metal thunder the band is famous for. Andy Kuntz still delivers clean and confident vocal workouts and the band is by all means a well-oiled machine at this point in their career and newbie Del Vecchio seems to fit in like he's been a member of the band since the beginning. The tracks are all well-crafted and deliver veritable slices of that old school prog metal stylistic approach that will remind you of classic Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Symphony X, Threshold, Pagan's Mind, Shadow Gallery and a gazillion others. In that regard little has changed in the VANDEN PLAS sound and the band carries on as if the modern world doesn't exist. For some that may be a nice comfort zone and for others it conveys a band that remains staunchly committed to a certain stylistic approach that refuses to branch out into new turf. Whatever the case, VANDEN PLAS' latest offering delivers a veritable slice of classic prog metal but doesn't really do much more. Even the 16-minute closing "March Of The Saints" doesn't deviate from the overall established sound of the band in any way.

Upon listening to THE EMPYREAN EQUATION OF THE LONG LOST THINGS i'm reminded why VANDEN PLAS never really clicked with me. Sure they are a more than a competent band that delivers all the prog metal goods in fine form but the band lacks imagination and a creative spirit that animates the music to a higher level. This album is very anachronistic and may serve as a form of comfort food for those who have been alienated by the world of prog metal seeping into the caustic arenas of dissonant death metal, black metal and extremist hybrids and for that it is perfectly suitable however i just find this band to be a bit too generic for my liking. There is not a single bad track on this album and the performances are impeccable with every keyboard run, every guitar riff and every drum roll teased out to perfection but there is a very clinical feel to the album as if VANDEN PLAS engineers its music through a microscope rather than allowing an organic process to inspire and evolve its style. It's sure to be a fan pleaser for those who expect a band to remain consistent but after three decades i would expect the band to have at least evolved a smidge. Decent album but comes off as prog metal by the numbers.

3.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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