Vanden Plas – The Ghost Xperiment: Illumination

You are currently viewing Vanden Plas – The Ghost Xperiment: Illumination

Year: 2020
Total Time: 61:05
Label: Frontiers Records

   After “The Ghost Xperiment: Awakening”, the prog metallers VANDEN PLAS, founded in Kaiselaurten, Germany, return with it’s sequel, “The Ghost Xperiment: Illumination”, which is longer in duration and aspires to be superior to the disputed, previous predecessor . The question is “whether” and “how” they succeed…?

   Did you expect anything less than a classic Progressive endeavour? This means seven-minute songs (with a bonus cheese of 13-minutes song), complex melodies at all instruments, as well as various orchestrations. The melodies are not only complex but also beautiful (most of them). Fast music changes, from hard riffs to many acoustic tunes on the same track. Awesome start, some good songs in the process and a short, beautiful end. Everything is neat. From the concept of the album (parapsychology, hypnosis, haunting), to the crystal clear production and the technical aspect of the subject, the five musicians are technically flawless, as usual. Many choruses are hard to forget, as needed…

The question is: does the “Awakening” gives something more than the usual releases of the idiom, or is it just another good prog album like the many ones we have heard? The answer is that it tries to give something more and just delivers it, but only at times. Definitely its superior to its mediocre predecessor. Surely the fans of the genre will hear it a lot. Surely you could make the argument of some few tracks being amongst the best one they have ever written. It ‘s just not at all certain that it has anything more than nicely structured, fancy compositions as an album as a whole, apart from individual efforts. To make a GREAT progressive effort, having heard this genre for years, I have to say that the secret is to bring EMOTION to the listener constantly, not just in moments. And certainly not just to show your technical skills. We can see such an effort here, but to some extent.

   This review is not intended to say that you will not hear something good in front of you. Just to explain how this historical band for the genre seems to be entering an era where they do not dare as much as necessary in progressive metal. Nevertheless, “When the World is Falling Down” is one of the top 10 songs they have ever written. On the other hand, the 13-minute “The Ouroboros” was definitely meant to be the culmination of this effort, and surely all the fans, when they realized that they would hear a 13-minute piece, were waiting for an epic, like the ones they have written before. The problem is that while it is a formidable ambition, it seems that they are going to force themselves to write such an epic and the reality is that it just remains a wannabe epic, which has awesome moments, but also other, more mediocre ones. Sure, it managers to get emotion out of the door. This and the final, intensely melancholy “Ghost Engineers”.

   A beautiful effort, but it is far from the one that came to shake the waters of progressive as a whole. Its main problem is that it has some awesome pieces and some fillers. It is also definitely more than perfectly executed. The fans of the genre will surely listen to this release. All other metalheads should think of it twice…

Rating: 6/10
Editor: Giannis Michailidis
Related Link: VANDEN PLAS – Official Page

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