Vanden Plas- Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1) Review
By Benjie Stewart
Vanden Plas are one of those progressive metal bands that get better with age. Maintaining the same line-up since 1986 is very impressive to do in this day of “revolving door” line-ups. On their seventh album Vanden Plas offer something quite dark, yet uplifting at the same time. It is no secret that Vanden Plas’ lyrical content border on Christianity and having faith in a higher power. Chronicles Of The Immortals is not as progressive as the last effort, The Seraphic Clockwork, which is my favorite album. I think Vanden Plas knew what they were making here and I don't think they cared too much in mind of who would catch on, like Metallica, I believe Vanden Plas are a band that plays by their own rules, they are not a band that is connected to the outside world...which may be reason they are so underrated and unheard of, in my opinion they are only 2nd to Dream Theater as far as song writing, lyrics, album artwork and production. They have a classiness about them that mirrors other great Progressive Metal bands like Fates Warning, Evergrey and Pain Of Salvation. Again, this album touches all areas of Vanden Plas, it just touches in a different way. I’m not really sure if this album is a concept album and all the songs are connected, as it is interesting how the songs are numbered. The songs are numbered as Visions, but listening back I don't think there are any concepts on the album. The album art is by far the darkest Vanden Plas cover to date. A dead tree of life on a stranded island reflecting itself with a blaring fading sun in the background; the concept I gather is loss and the overcoming of odds of a sad and dark fucked up world. The songs are very short compared to songs on other Vanden Plas albums. The longest song being "The Black Knight" at 8:29, again going back to the different approach of presenting a progressive metal song, and being able to capture all the elements under seven minutes is saying very much, but not saying too much, there may be a connection within this album that is hidden like in all great art. Some of the songs that stand out as Vanden Plas "classics" to me are: "Godmaker" which Vanden Plas filmed a video for. The video I recommend since it may shine some light on the subject of all things being hidden on the album. Other tracks that hit a nerve were: "Misery Affection Prelude" and "Misery Affection", the ballad of the album. This song has so much power behind it, the female vocals add an ingredient that has never been heard on a Vanden Plas album before. "Soul Alliance" follows after and is the best track on the album. The album close does lead me to wonder if there is going to be a Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld (Path 2). For some strange reason, I doubt it. This was an oddly world that Vanden Plas needed to write... and to these ears I believe they have succeeded in creating something new and fresh to progressive metal music and the fans of the genre.