Rating:
8.5
Vanden Plas - The Seraphic Clockwork
4 June 2010


01. Frequency
02. Holes In The Sky
03. Scar Of An Angel
04. Sound Of Blood
05. The Final Murder
06. Quicksilver
07. Rush Of Silence
08. On My Way To Jerusalem
09. Eleyson [bonus]
+ Numquid Dari Pars II & III [video]


Progressive Power Metal has seen many bands reach fame in the last decade or so. Unfortunately Germany's Vanden Plas somehow seems to still be flying under the radar when it comes to recognition. Already their sixth studio effort, the concept album The Seraphic Clockwork continues the tradition of fantastic progressive songs filled with operatic structures and crushing guitar solos.

The musicians from Kaiserslautern have now been playing together for over 20 years and the chemistry can be heard all the way throughout the album. The basic key elements of Vanden Plas distinctive sound are alive and well. Stephan Lill's mind-blowing guitar sound coupled with Günter Werno's eerie keys remains the driving factor of the music. The solid duo of Andreas Lill on drums and Torsten Reichert on bass guitar once again produce the perfect layout for Andy Kuntz operatic vocals.

Once more, the band excels whenever they slow down the pace and layer their sound with unsettling atmospheres. And they seem to revel in perpetuating this blueprint on most tracks here. The last three songs on The Seraphic Clockwork are masterpieces because of this. But worry not, the head banging guitar riffs remain a big part of the winning formula. As is the case on the killer opening song, "Frequency," which is also a perfect example of how far the band has come in terms of song writing.

I sense this review is bound to fail to convey how much darker some of the songs are. I believe the key word is contrast. There is definitely a showdown between light and darkness as the story unfolds, especially on "Sound of Blood." "Quicksilver" is another standout track, from its apparent ballad atmosphere to the ethereal guitar solo closing it gracefully. "Rush of Silence" brings everything grand about this album to fruition. The album conveniently reaches its apex during the last song. Indeed, the 12-minute epic "On My Way to Jerusalem" could be its own little opera.

The digipack version treats us to an insight into how those musicians earn a living writing and playing soundtrack for musicals (Andy Kuntz happens to be a theater performer by trade). The very pure anthem "Eleyson" and the video of the medieval stage play Ludus Danielis really show you how this occupation crafted their sound over the years (minus singing in Latin). Plus you get to see Andy as an achieved theater performer first hand.

Overall The Seraphic Clockwork is a more multifaceted picture of the band than any of their previous albums. For this reason, it will probably confuse listeners hoping for a mildly different take on Christ.0. Vanden Plas turned up the ingenuity button, making this record harder to grasp but utterly darker, beautiful, and ultimately unique.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Band profile: Vanden Plas
Album: The Seraphic Clockwork


 


written by Demonic Tutor | 11.10.2010



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Dark Blood - 11.10.2010 at 23:56  
Nice review Tutor. I gotta say I'm one of those "confused" listeners about this album. Maybe for its complexity, I dont know, but I'm experiencing a hard time getting into this one. That didn't happen when I started listening to 'Christ.0' and maybe to 'Beyond Daylight' as well, which was love at first sight as far as I remember. Well, this is one of those cases that needs a little push and a few more listens to get into.
Thanks for the review
WorpeX - 12.10.2010 at 01:42  
Great review! I haven't listened to the album yet but I loved Beyond Daylight and Christ.0. Can't wait to give this one a listen!
MeTalRea|istiK - 12.10.2010 at 16:40  
Nice review..give it a try!!
Susan - 23.11.2010 at 17:07  
Very well-written review. You've made me want to try harder to understand this album. I agree 100% that it's "harder to grasp" than their previous works. I have listened many, many times and do enjoy it... I just don't feel the magic. Yet. Hopefully it will unfold itself to me in more time.

Usually I'm loath to compare albums since I think they should all be judged on their own merit. However, Seraphic Clockwork, for me, almost demands a comparison to Christ.0 sometimes. I hear many shades of the previous album in an almost nostalgic way; certain riffs and progressions that remind me of moments in Christ.0 but then fail to either surpass it or to do something new on their own. Most of the time I hear this album I'm simply reminded that it's not quite as good. And I'm not just whining that this isn't the album I wanted, no, I just hear music that seems slightly stuck in its own past.

Let me reiterate that I do enjoy this album. And like I said, I continue to listen with an open mind, hoping that the secrets of The Seraphic Clockwork reveal themselves to me and let me see this music as spectacularly as you do, my friend!
WorpeX - 28.12.2010 at 01:56  
Awesome album! Finally picked it up and I enjoy this as much as the last two. The background story behind this is phenomenal and just makes the album so much more interesting to listen to! My favorite tracks are Frequency, Scar of an Angel and On My Way To Jerusalem
Wes - 14.01.2011 at 10:24  
This is my favorite Vanden Plas yet! Amazing. Listen to it and allow it to grow on you. Aaa I'm glad people can appreciate this. The lyrics and concept are awesome. : ) I didn't expect to get another album as good as Christ 0, and so at first I had a hard time getting into this. But it is as good as their last. The thing about Vanden is it takes time to get into their music, they really are about subtleties.

THE BONUS TRACK IS AMAZING!! What is this song?!?

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