Vanden Plas always has been a very special band for me; I have gotten to know their music somewhere halfway thru'the nineties when they released The God Thing and followed their career ever since. Vanden Plas is one of those seldom bands that remain a steady line-up and as far as I can recall, the quintet never had any line-up changes. Another thing is the high quality of their albums; since I started to listen and buy their albums, there was never a weak moment in their compositions. Always relaying on thorough progressive metal songs with excellent orchestrations. The Ghost Xperiment - AwakenIng continues the line of excellence.
The story of AwakenIng is based on a paranormal experiment. The main character in the story; Gideon Grace, has to constantly fight for his life against the relentless shadows of the House of Rain as he wanders through France. Burdened with a heavy weight of sorrow following the agonizing death of his beloved Ivy, Gideon's pain is also the driving force in a war with his demons. He expands his knowledge with books he finds in the library of a German school of metaphysics and it is there that he reads about secret teachers and parapsychological experiments, which become an important foundation from which he can fight against the creatures of darkness. After the first showdown with these demons, rather than finding peace, the insights Gideon learns from this fight tear open a hole deep into the abyss of hell.
As we are used to, regarding Vanden Plas previous albums, the songs are long, bombastic, melodic and intriguing. But also the band always keeps the accessible elements in mind. So is the opener Cold December Night all of the above, including some very accessible, sticking vocal lines of Andy Kuntz. But also the recognizable guitar sound of Stefan Lill remains one of the important parts of Vanden Plas music. During Three Ghosts the foot gets off the gas sometimes in a beautiful semi ballad. Both guitar and Günter Werno's keyboards and orchestrations work pretty well together, during this close to nine minutes lasting track. But it is the two compositions that exceed the nine minutes mark that ice this beautiful album; Devils´ Poetry as well as Fall From The Skies are true progressive epics. Great guitar riffs, delicate keyboard and the ever-recognizable voice of Andy make these my favourites. But let's not forget about the dedicated and solid rhythm section of bass player Torsten Reichert and drummer Andreas Lill. Without this base, the songs would not have the impact they have now.
Vanden Plas previous story Chronicles Of The Immortals took two albums to tell the tale, I wonder if Vanden Plas is able to tell the story of The Ghost Xperiment within two albums. The end of 2020 will see the second part, called The Ghost Xperiment - IIIumination, that's for sure. For now, I am going to press play again to re-listen to another amazing album, by this wonderful German Band.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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