Album Review – Vanden Plas / Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (2014)

Get ready for an amazing journey through the worlds of literature and music in the new Rock Opera Album by these German Progressive Metal icons.

Rating3

vandenplas_chroniclesIf you’re a fan of Heavy Metal and love reading a good book, you have to listen to the new concept album by German Progressive Metal band Vanden Plas, the seventh full-length album in their career, called Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld. The album is based on the novel Die Chronik Der Unsterblichen, by author Wolfgang Hohlbein, who, with 43 million books sold worldwide, is not only Germany’s biggest-selling author but also a fan of Vanden Plas. The novel, and consequently the album, narrate the adventures of vampire Andrej Delãny and his comrade Abu Dun, who search for the secret of their origin through Europe in recent centuries, always meeting new threats and thereby witnessing several significant events in European history. It portrays a variety of ideas about vampires and other mythical creatures, including also the modern myth of the Highlander.

Do not expect to find lots of insane guitar solos, drums as fast as possible, or any guitar shredding: the music found in Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld is 100% progressive, focused on the atmosphere created especially by the voice of singer Andy Kuntz and keyboards by Günter Werno. There’s a lot of melody in this album, which can already be noticed in the opening track, the intro Vision 1ne, with its beautiful narration (perfect for any movie) and piano, and Vision 2wo – The Black Knight, a very progressive track just like Vanden Plas and Dream Theater love to do with an eerie intro and calm passages.

The following tracks (or “visions”) are Vision 3hree – Godmaker, a lot heavier than the previous song with great keyboards and riffs, and Andy Kuntz doing a superb job on vocals, making it one of the best of the whole album;  Vision 4our – Misery Affection Prelude, which is just an intro/bridge to the next song, the ballad Vision 5ive – A Ghosts Requiem, with a very delicate piano and amazing choir; and Vision 6ix – New Vampyre, with great riffs, keyboards, and nice guitar solos.

vandenplasHowever, it’s the next two tracks that really stand out to our ears and souls. The first is Vision 7even – The King and the Children of Lost World, a song that has the full package: its strong riffs, beautiful lyrics and excellent solos at the end make it the perfect representation of what Progressive Metal really is. And then the second one, Vision 8ight – Misery Affection, is the perfect ballad with a smooth intro, pleasant piano, and gorgeous female vocals (who’s the owner of that mesmerizing voice?) in an astonishing duo with Kuntz. In my humble opinion, it’s the best track of the album and one of the best Vanden Plas have ever produced.

The last part of the album begins with the strong bass lines by Torsten Reichert in the song Vision 9ine – Soul Alliance, followed by Vision 10n – Inside, the last track of the album, which continues with the same level of energy from its predecessor and leaves us wanting more of this awesome progressive heavy music, even after almost one hour of complexity and intensity not easy for regular people to digest.

In summary, the whole album would the perfect soundtrack for a Chronicles of the Immortals movie. It’s a very cohesive work done by this band of terrific musicians, with extraordinary melody and, of course, an amazing storyline. Not only that, the whole production is extremely professional, from the audio mixing to the album art, which by the way looks like the front cover of one of Mr. Hohlbein’s books. Maybe that was one of the main ideas behind the whole album: creating a unique album which wanders between the worlds of literature and music, and so offering the fans of the band and of Mr. Hohlbein’s work a totally new experience in the world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Vision 3hree – Godmaker, Vision 7even – The King and the Children of Lost World and Vision 8ight – Misery Affection.

Worst moments of the album: Vision 5ive – A Ghosts Requiem and Vision 6ix – New Vampyre.

Released in 2014 Frontiers Records

Track listing
1. Vision 1ne 3:52
2. Vision 2wo – The Black Knight 8:29
3. Vision 3hree – Godmaker 5:24
4. Vision 4our – Misery Affection Prelude 1:39
5. Vision 5ive – A Ghosts Requiem 3:56
6. Vision 6ix – New Vampyre 6:16
7. Vision 7even – The King and the Children of Lost World 7:53
8. Vision 8ight – Misery Affection 5:08
9. Vision 9ine – Soul Alliance 6:39
10. Vision 10n – Inside 6:42

Band members
Andy Kuntz – vocals
Stephan Lill – guitars
Günter Werno – keyboards
Torsten Reichert – bass
Andreas Lill – drums

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