VANDEN PLAS – The Empyrean Equation of Long Lost Things

When it comes to prog metal, there are few bands as consistent as Vanden Plas. Like many of their peers, the band are able to deliver the expected heaviness and complexity, but marking them out from others on the scene, these German musicians often display a strong sense of melody. That doesn’t necessarily make their work entirely accessible or commercial – prog metal is always a marginal subgenre on that front – but an on form VP feels so much more streamlined than most. Even when approaching massive concept works like ‘Chronicles of The Immortals’ or the excellent ‘Ghost Xperiment’, their decision to split these epic works into separate volumes made their bombastic traits far more digestible. The likes of the ego driven Dream Theater would’ve likely released each one as a double CD and added more material to create one of their preferred full three hour borefests each time.

Continue reading

VANDEN PLAS – The Ghost Xperiment – Illumination

When it comes to prog metal, Dream Theater always seem to take the bulk of the praise. It could say something about how unadventurous a core of prog/metal fans appear to be, especially since – perhaps with the exception of 2009’s ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’ – James Labrie and co. haven’t recorded a truly decent album since 1994’s ‘Awake’. There are other, much better practitioners of proggy metal fare out there. Symphony X are in possession of a far better vocalist than Labrie will ever be and the UK’s own Threshold are genuine masters when it comes to an actual tune.

One of prog metal’s most well-rounded acts, Germany’s Vanden Plas have it all. Their core sound revolves around fairly traditional Dream Theater/Fate’s Warning-ish fare, but as a band, they have never been afraid of experimenting with a Euro power metal stance and certainly haven’t been shy of an AOR inflected hook from time to time. Within their extensive back catalogue, you’ll find riffs and complexities aplenty; even a concept album or two. More importantly, you’ll discover a band with keen ear for a good melody. Somehow, though, the European band doesn’t get talked about anywhere near as much as you’d think.

Continue reading