Frontiers www.frontiers.it [Release date 24.02.14]
It has been a while since Vanden Plas released The Seraphic Clockwork back in 2010 but that’s not to say they haven’t been busy…far from it.
German best-selling author Wolfgang Hohlbein suggested a collaboration with Vanden Plas to create a musical for the stage based on his Die Chronik der Unsterblichen (you probably guessed correctly already that this translates as The Chronicles of the Immortals) series of novels and thus Blutnacht (Bloodnight) was born. A total of 25 sold out performances occurred in Germany between 2012 and 2013 and logically the next step was to develop the stage songs into an album.
“The Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld” is the first of two albums formed around the 19 original songs from the show. The album relates the start of the tale of immortal Andrej Delany and his struggles with the forces of the unending Darkness. It’s a complex story but Vanden Plas have always produced complex thought provoking music over the years.
Vanden Plas released their debut “Colour Temple” back in 1994 and the original line-up is still in place to this day 20 years down the line. Musicianship cannot be faulted…there is probably a telepathic link between Andy Kuntz (vocals), Stephan Lill (guitar), Günter Werno (keyboards), Torsten Reichert (bass) and Andreas Lill (drums) by now!
Opener VISION 1ne (cool track numbering by the way) sets the scene with a Rhapsody of Fire-like bit of storytelling and orchestration leading nicely into VISION 2wo The Black Night where the band quickly get into their stride – noisy bits, quiet bits, guitars, keyboards, piano interludes, even a children’s choir and then we have Andy Kuntz’s majestic vocals rising above it all.
We then have the sheer bombast of VISION3hree Godmaker before the atmospheric VISION 4our Misery Affection Prelude complete with female vocals (no information on who from the Frontiers promo unfortunately). The wonderfully fragile VISION 5ive A Ghosts Requiem features a child-like female vocal plus piano and choir. I don’t want to keep going through track by track…don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of listening to this in a darkened room at full volume!!
Netherworld has an overall feel that is part early period Dream Theater mixed with latter period Kamelot but with added magic…well classic Vanden Plas really. ****½
Review by Phil Berisford
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