I have stated it before and I will do so again; Vanden Plas are the musical conversion of Dream Theater in their early years. Where the American prog metal band focusses more on their musical abilities and tends to lose sight of the big theme, Vanden Plas is more focussed on delivering a matured and arranged song instead. Their craftmanship is eceptional and they manage to find new angles to enrich their progressive metal songs. Inflict them with modern fragments, or arrange them like one would not expect. Songs twist and turn and arrangements are keen. "The Seraphic Clockwork" is another one of those musical highlights in melodic progressive metal , without doubt their finest hour!
Two typical Vanden Plas songs kick off this new endeavor. "Frequency" is blessed with one of those exceptional trademark guitar solo's by meastro Stephan Lille. Perhaps the most undiscovered gem in shredding today. His ellevated hooks and loud riffs propell the songs, pumped forward by a forcefull base laid down by his brother Andreas (drums)and jazz rooted bass work of Torsten Reichert. Vanden Plas' lyrics are strong and perfectly brought to life by the charismatic Andy Kuntz. He shines in the timidly opened "Scars of an Angel" with great interaction between Günther Werno's swirling keyboards, Kuntz' soaring vocals and driven guitar work by Stephan. A mid section empowered by angelic chants, remeniscent to goth. "Sound of Blood" has more pompous gothic chants build in making it a true highlight. A best of both worlds. Vanden Plas however manages to slowly grab you in a stronghold and nearly choke you. Building tension towards the end with a spanning 9 minute semi ballad "The Final Murder"and the gripping and powerful modern metal hymn "Quicksilver". "Rush of Silence" powers up with loud riff/key swirl interaction towards their absolute masterpiece; 12:53 running epic "On My Way to Jerusalem". A song showcasing their skills as composers and arrangers of exceptional grandeur. It is here where their background as musical performers falls into place with their craftmanship as metal musicians. Captivating progressive breaks blended with re-occuring pompous thematics and highly melodic melodies and vocal lines. It is all there; Medieval section, 70's rooted pomp rock and prog and polyrythmic drum patterns and progressive jazzy bass playing, all moulded carefully into shape. It is powerfull and pompous, melodic and driven. The story hails of a re-appearing theme about religion strongly present on this new CD, specifically on the albums second half. "Eleyson" is pompous melodic, marking the end of a musical rollercoaster ride clocking over 70 minutes, in style!
"The Seraphic Clockwork" runs like a Swiss clock front to back. Tight and well arranged, slick melodic and powerful progressive metal. An outburst of expertise and craftmanship perfectly twisted into form. A must for fans of the genre, and fans of metal on general.
Review of Vanden Plas: The Seraphic Clockwork by Edwin van Hoof ©2010.