Vanden Plas - The Ghost Xperiment - Awakening

Vanden Plas - The Ghost Xperiment - Awakening cover
Vanden Plas
The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening
Frontiers Music srl
German Progressive Metallers Vanden Plas have been going on for quite a long time. Actually they are one of the very few bands that could really boast their original line-up after nearly three decades. They’ve been very focus and artistically driven, with some nine releases in that period, always characterized by a heavy mid-tempo melodic sound for most of the time, which they have become masters of. To my ears they sound like a bizarre and unique mix between Threshold, Enchant and the more timid moments of Rough Silk, before they went down pear shaped.
“The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening” is the first volume of a story that is to be completed some time with Part 2 entitled “Illumination”.
“Cold December Night” is a riffy and developed composition, which is perfectly balanced and has a melancholic but sweet chorus that is very good. It’s the definition of accessible prog, which is easier said than done.
“The Phantoms of Prends-Toi-Gardes” tries to transition from that mood and has a wider variety of moods, slightly slower and heavier, but also quite spirited in the middle, with daring arrangements.
The next three tracks, all are around 9 minutes, allowing the band for more natural transitions. They thankfully have the experience to avoid dropping the ball, over-repeating riffs and themes and messing up with the album’s flow. “Three Ghosts” is a heavy, acoustic, theatrical piece, which has sporadic crescendos. “Devil’s Poetry” is even heavier direction, with a great synergy between the synths and the guitars, which envelope they rhythm and vocals, in an incredible way that just produces a pretty solid track. The band even remembers its roots midway with a quite techy breakdown that harkens to its early days. “Fall from the Skies” is another song where calm and heavy moments interweave into a seamless song that has its moments.
The title track, “The Ghost Xperiment”, which also serves as the album’s first single, is probably a vertical piece, which manages to encapsulate all of the band’s trademarks in a short yet concise manner.
The Germans play to their powers on a style they have been perfecting since the 90s and do not disappoint. The only thing that somewhat irks me, is their tendency to split albums however as their previous complete work “Netherworld” was also split in two volumes. Still don’t see any major issues with the band or the album however and it’s easy to recommend this to either established fans or people who like some prog that doesn’t forget to sound really riffy and heavy, while maintaining healthy amounts of melody.