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Vanden Plas - Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld II (Path Two)

Label: Frontiers Records
Format: CD download
Released: 2015
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8/ 10


To feel disappointment, one has to have positive expectations. Vanden Plas set some seriously high hopes on "Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld II (Path Two)" with three magnificent songs to open things up. The sequence of track #1, ‘In My Universe’, #2 ‘Godmaker's Temptation’, and #3, ‘Stone Roses Edge’, could be a prototype for how to launch a great Power/Prog Metal album. Track two is interesting, because its bland verse and intro resolve beautifully into a catchy, irresistible chorus, that then feeds upwards into an even grander solo/bridge section. You will be singing along before the song is done. "Stone Roses Edge" then brings an awesome metal groove, spiraling into a shredding solo section of beautiful abandon. On these first 3 tracks, Vanden Plas show a knack for finding the notes between the notes, cultivating freshness and listener engagement in the unexpected and clever architecture. Energy, passion, mood; it's all there.

 

Singer, Andy Kuntz, channels Dream Theater's clear vocal style to narrate the stories and sand down the rough edges. The temporary disappointment comes in the next sequence of tracks. Parts 4 through 7 in the saga bring only the most fleeting glimpses of the wonder we'd felt in the first three songs. Track four, ‘Blood of Eden (All Love Must Die) (the Rite) (This Is the Night)’, is especially difficult, because this is the album's requisite 11-minute epic, but there's nothing to hold or hook us back in for repeat plays. The album swims back up from the murk on the final two tracks, reeling the listener back in.

‘The Last Fight’ is a good thrasher with power metal trimmings; Vision 19teen (Track 9. All of the tracks are labelled in this way) ‘Circle of the Devil’, is actually good enough to stand with the esteemed opening trio. Sure, this is the future, where we can just delete or skip the songs we don't like and hold on to the positives. "Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld II (Path Two)" is the next in a multi-album conceptual work, based on novels by Germany's best-selling author, Wolfgang Hohlbein. "Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld (Path One)" has already garnered a devoted following, which only heightens expectations. We should be able to listen from top to bottom and enjoy the entire journey, the whole story from start to finish.

Anyway, enough harshness. I only criticize because of the mid-album let-down following the great start. The first three songs plus the final two are easily high-caliber enough to justify the entire thing. And really, five out of nine is a pretty damn fine good-to-bad ratio for any record. All nit-picking aside, this should be required listening for any Power/Prog Metal fan.

 
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