If you loved Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld, this second and ultimate part of one of the most remarkable concept albums in the history of heavy music will certainly blow your mind.
Any strong narrative demands a proper conclusion, one that will make your heart beat faster and give you some welcome goosebumps, leaving you stunned by its climatic upshot and completely eager for more of it. What German Progressive Metal virtuosi Vanden Plas offer in Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II, the second and ultimate part of their brilliant concept double-album Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld, goes beyond that in terms of quality and excitement, and you’ll have a blast following those talented metallers on their journey through the dark and admirable realms of the netherworld.
As aforementioned, the album is a sequel to their superb 2014 release Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld, once again based on Die Chronik Der Unsterblichen, by author Wolfgang Hohlbein. Featuring another beautiful artwork by French artist Stan Decker (even more awesome than the one from the previous album, in my humble opinion) and a magnificent choir supporting the music played by Vanden Plas, there’s nothing in Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II that doesn’t look or sound spectacular, elevating it together with the first part to the status of one of the most remarkable concept albums in the history of heavy music.
I highly recommend you take a listen at the first part before moving on to this album, because Vision 11even – In My Universe is a precise continuation to “Vision 10n – Inside” in terms of its musicality and the development of the storyline. I just find it more symphonic and progressive than most songs from the first album, which in this case is exactly what the album demands, with Andy Kuntz continuing his vocal lecture for lovers of his type of voice. In Vision 12elve – Godmaker’s Temptation, we have an eerie start to another solid tune, a heavy and progressive ballad full of emotions with a huge focus on its atmosphere and especially on its powerful chorus, while Vision 13teen – Stone Roses Edge proves how incredible Vanden Plas can sound when they speed up their rhythm and beats. This is for me the best of all songs from both albums, with the electricity provided by the keyboards by Günter Werno and the guitar riffs and solos by Stephan Lill being truly outstanding, not to mention another flawless performance by Andy.
And get ready for Vision 14teen – Blood of Eden, a fantastic 13-minute composition divided in three distinct parts that complement each other magically. Its first piece, entitled “All Love Must Die”, presents for the first time in the album the gentle female vocals by German singer Julia Steingass, who was also a guest musician in Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld; then the second piece named “The Rite” gets more theatrical and fiery, therefore becoming a lesson in Progressive Metal by Andy and his crew; before “This Is the Night” concludes this epic song in a classy and thrilling way. The following tune, Vision 15teen – Monster, showcases another guest vocalist, Falk Leidemer from German band Tentacle Attack, who is responsible for the guttural vocals in this very cohesive and symphonic composition, with highlights to the always growing level of passion and darkness during the whole song.
Perhaps Vision 16teen – Diabolica Comedia can be considered one of the most complex and unusual songs of their career, with its orchestrations blending perfectly with the band’s heavy notes. Moreover, Günter once again takes the spotlight with his precise keyboard notes and undeniable talent. After such a freakish trek, it’s time to relax to the pleasant heavy ballad Vision 17teen – Where Have the Children Gone, where the strong performances by all band members provide the song what it needs to captivate the listener from start to finish.
In the excellent Vision 18teen – The Last Fight, Vanden Plas deliver a mix of Progressive Metal and traditional Heavy Metal, with its keyboards setting fire to the musicality and the excitement brought forth by the instrumental pieces and the choir truly boosting the overall quality of the music. Put differently, simply savor the experience of closing your eyes and letting this unique musical madness take you away to a different world. And finally, with the choir guiding the music to its climax (and consequently the whole album and story), the symphonic and theatrical Vision 19teen – Circle of the Devil presents the stunning Julia back to help Andy close the album majestically, working pretty much as a sequel to “Vision 14teen – Blood of Eden”. In the end, I bet several fans will cry tears of joy when the last notes of the song fade away.
To sum up, as I said already, there isn’t anything in Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II that doesn’t surpass the boundaries of awesomeness, from its consistent and fully developed storyline to the outstanding music skills by all musicians involved. The only unanswered question from the entire album is that if Vanden Plas will be capable of delivering anything better or at least at the same level of quality as both Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld albums, but let’s leave it for their future releases. For now, we should simply relish the full-bodied music contained in this music saga, joining this amazing Progressive Metal band in their quest for conquering not only the netherworld depicted in the albums, but the entire world we live in.
Best moments of the album: Vision 13teen – Stone Roses Edge, Vision 14teen – Blood of Eden and Vision 18teen – The Last Fight.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2015 Frontiers Records
1. Vision 11even – In My Universe 6:25
2. Vision 12elve – Godmaker’s Temptation 5:05
3. Vision 13teen – Stone Roses Edge 6:38
4. Vision 14teen – Blood of Eden (I. All Love Must Die / II. The Rite / III. This Is the Night) 13:17
5. Vision 15teen – Monster 7:40
6. Vision 16teen – Diabolica Comedia 6:37
7. Vision 17teen – Where Have the Children Gone 4:42
8. Vision 18teen – The Last Fight 7:33
9. Vision 19teen – Circle of the Devil 7:59
Andy Kuntz – vocals
Stephan Lill – guitars
Günter Werno – keyboards
Torsten Reichert – bass
Andreas Lill – drums
Julia Steingass – female vocals on “Vision 14teen – Blood of Eden” and “Vision 19teen – Circle of the Devil”
Falk Leidemer – harsh vocals on “Vision 15teen – Monster”
Christian Köbler, Manuel Lothschütz – backing vocals, choir
Sarah Bohnert, Heike Dechert, Julia Hach, Stephan Hugo, Lisana Hunsinger, Jutta Mitschke, Ines Pawlowski, Charlotte Seeger, Johannes Zimnol – choir