Vanden Plas: Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II-2015.

Vanden Plas:Proggressive Metal from Germany.

Discography:

Double A SideSingle1986 
Days of ThunderDemo1991 
FireSingle1992 
Colour TempleFull-length1994
Das ist für euchSingle1994 
En TournéeSplit1996 
AccultEP1996
En TournéeSplit1996 
Des Hauts, Des BasSingle1996 
Hard RockSplit1997 
Symphony X / Superior / Vanden PlasSplit1997 
The God ThingFull-length1997 
Manowar / Vanden Plas / Symphony X / RhapsodySplit1998 
Inside of Your HeadSingle1999 
Far Off GraceFull-length1999 
I Don’t Miss YouSingle2000 
Spirit of LiveLive album2000 
Beyond DaylightFull-length2002
Christ ΦFull-length2006
Ludus Danielis (The Play of Daniel)Video2008 
The Seraphic ClockworkFull-length2010
Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)Full-length2014
Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld IIFull-length2015
The Seraphic Live WorksLive album2017 
The Epic Works 1991-2015Boxed set2019 
The Ghost Xperiment – AwakeningFull-length2019
Under the HorizonSingle2020 
The Ghost Xperiment – IlluminationFull-length2020
Live & ImmortalLive album2022 

Members:

Torsten ReichertBass (1986-present)
See also: ex-Abydos, ex-Odious
Andreas LillDrums (1986-present)
See also: ex-Abydos, ex-Missa Mercuria, ex-Section A, ex-Exodus
Stephan LillGuitars (1986-present)
See also: Ian Parry (live), ex-Abydos, ex-Missa Mercuria, ex-Red Circuit, ex-Consortium Project (live)
Günter WernoKeyboards (1986-present)
See also: Place VendomeD.C. Cooper, ex-Missa Mercuria, ex-Sunstorm, ex-Angra (live), ex-Kamelot (live), ex-Consortium Project (live)
Andy KuntzVocals (1986-present)
See also: ex-Abydos, ex-Missa Mercuria, ex-Amaseffer, ex-Frontiers All Stars, ex-Lady Blush

One thought on “Vanden Plas: Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II-2015.

  1. ijy10152, January 11th, 2021

    First let me say that Netherworld II doesn’t really sound that much like the first part. Actually I would argue it sounds like a combination of Seraphic Clockwork and The God Thing, which just happen to be my favorite albums of each era of the band. While the last album fell more on the power metal side of their sound (power ballads and all), this album falls much more on the progressive rock side of their sound. So I get the divided sides in this argument, people who prefer shorter songs and catchy choruses will probably prefer the first part, but for myself and other prog fans, this album gives us a lot more to sink our teeth into. What I love about this album so much is how it manages to elicit emotion without resorting to ballads. They build the soft emotional parts into a larger framework, with songs like Godmaker’s Temptation, Blood of Eden, Diabolica Comedia and especially the closer The Circle of the Devil. I’ve never been a big fan of ballads, especially power ballads and I just love that this album doesn’t actually have a ballad in the strictest sense. Looking back at this album in hindsight with two more albums released since then, it’s clear that Vanden Plas has fallen back into the gothic, symphonic gloom that has been a part of their sound really since Christ0, and Netherworld I and Awakening really stretch my tolerance and appreciation of that kind of atmosphere. The best Vanden Plas albums flow back and forth between upbeat prog and gloomy power metal and that’s exactly what this album does.

    Before I get to track one I want to talk about Godmaker’s Temptation and Stone Roses Edge; as I mentioned earlier I’m a huge fan of The God Thing and their early sound in general and I do think that since Christ0 the band has lost a certain something, it’s hard to put my finger on what, but the shift from Far Off Grace to Beyond Daylight and then to Christ0 is QUITE a change in my opinion. Regardless, beyond the direct lyrical reference in Stone Roses Edge to Garden of Stones, Godmaker’s Temptation and Stone Rose sound like a more modern version of that style, that sound. A big part of this sound is the return of the organ, part 1 had some organ here and there, but the emphasis was largely on the guitar. Here the keyboard really gets to shine and of course Gunter Werno is as incredible as ever. Godmaker’s Temptation has some great nuance and subtleties, with some organ licks being played in the background filling the space and keeping things interesting throughout. The chorus is nice and upbeat which I really love, especially after how grim and emotional their previous two albums were. I just really enjoy the energy, and Stone Roses Edge maintains that energy with a really fun upbeat chorus. Come to think of it, this song really reminds me of Nightwalker off Beyond Daylight which is one of my favorite VP albums mostly because it’s got that contrast of dark emotive metal and upbeat, fun prog. It’s a perfect blending of their older and newer sound and the reason I wanted to talk about these songs first is because they are emblematic of why this album resonates with me so much.

    This album hooked me from the very first notes. The intro of In My Universe is perfectly epic, this is the follow up to Seraphic Clockwork I expected. Every aspect of this song hits me in a good way, it’s one of those things where from the very first listen you can follow every bit of it and you just put it on repeat because you cannot get enough of it. That was me with this song when I first got it back in 2015, and I went through various phases with the rest of the album. As well as I know this album, I find myself surprised by new details almost every time I revisit this album. This is what Vanden Plas excels at: longer form power metal songs with progressive song structures that are simultaneously complex and accessible, in a way that almost reminds me of Blind Guardian’s A Night at the Opera. Sorry I’m getting off track, This song is built around the most grandiose riff I can remember, it blows me away every time. The orchestra provides the perfect support for the guitar riffs without overpowering the guitar. The resulting cacophony can’t help but excite me and it really ramps up the anticipation. It’s not a fast song, but the chorus will prevent you from caring. The vocal lines drip with hope and sadness mingled together and it’s just an incredible chorus, if you’re someone who likes to sing as I do, I guarantee you have been or will be singing along to this for years to come. As great as this song already was, the bridge elevates it to a new level and the build up to the third and final chorus is just perfect. I cannot praise the song In My Universe enough, Vanden Plas is one of my favorite bands because they can create songs like this and tell a story through metal albums.

    I only dedicate entire paragraphs to one song if they really deserve it, and if In My Universe deserved a paragraph to itself, Blood of Eden definitely deserves one too. This really is the culmination of both parts of this duology, some of the themes and melodies from part 1 show up here and of course I’m a sucker for that kind of internal consistency, especially in concept albums. Blood of Eden is a 13 minute celebration of everything Vanden Plas has been aiming for since their formation in 1986, the unbridled emotion and tragedy apparent in the lyrics is made manifest through Andy Kuntz’ incredibly emotive voice. He’s always had a unique voice, and my dad always says “he slides off the end of notes too much”, but I love everything about his voice. He just has that theatrical voice that few vocalists can match and the music of Vanden Plas has always been written perfectly to support him. The into is soft and heartfelt, really fulfilling the role of a ballad on this album which is the perfect way to incorporate that kind of slow movement in the album without dedicating an entire track to balladry. It’s a long intro, but I don’t mind because first of all, it’s catchy and memorable, and second of all the build up into the first development section is brilliant. This is where we get more of that keyboard emphasis I mentioned earlier and I just want to praise Gunter Werno again for being one of the few keyboardists in metal that really grooves, but not in an 80s way, more like 70s prog. This song kind of has two choruses, one is the main theme from back in part 1 and the second is the focus of the second half of the song referencing the song title. What I especially love about the second chorus is how they start switching between French, German, and English in the last third of the song so we get to hear that chorus in three languages, which is just fun.

    I know some people are always looking to tear apart longer songs and explain why they “would have been better if the band just cut a little bit out”, this is why most metalheads shouldn’t try and review prog, it’s just a different kind of thing than most other kinds of metal. In the land of prog, accessibility and brevity are not what we’re looking for; as an example I think the brevity and “accessibility” of Netherworld part 1 is it’s biggest weakness because sometimes when a band like this streamlines their songwriting they lose what it is that made them so special.

    There’s just so much to talk about on this album, Monster has one of the band’s greatest riffs, though it’s easy to miss because it’s only used twice in the song. Diabolica Comedia has a great chorus, even if the rest of the song isn’t that special it’s a song that will get stuck in your head. The Last Fight might be my favorite song on the album, it’s hard to say, but that chorus is epic and this song has one of the heaviest riffs on the album. It reminds me of King and the Children of Lost Worlds actually, which was my favorite song off part 1. Circle of the Devil is mostly a recapping/epilogue to the whole story, revisiting the themes and melodies from parts 1 and 2 and it makes for a powerful ending. Now there is one song on this album I don’t really care for and it’s really the only thing holding this album back. Where Have the Children Gone is really slow and boring. I don’t know how else to put it, it almost feels out of place and it kind of throws off the pacing. I don’t hate it, but it’s a very skippable song, and at least it’s only four minutes.

    To end this I want to revisit something I said earlier; I think I have an idea of what exactly changed in their sound, moving out of their early sound and into their more slick 21st century sound. I think that change was the influence of more 70s inspired prog, which Christ0 does have plenty of, especially the cover of Gethsemane, but between Seraphic Clockwork, Netherworld 1 and Awakening that kind of prog rock sound has all but vanished from their sound. Back in 2015 when this album came out, I was enchanted as they seemed to take the sounds from every album they’ve written and combine them into one glorious celebration of progressive power metal. These guys are masters of their craft and even when Vanden Plas stumbles here and there I never have any doubt they will find their way back to true musical greatness.

    Like

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