2019 Reviews

Published on December 12th, 2019 | by Justin G.

Vanden Plas: Ghost Xperiment: The Awakening (Frontiers, 2019)

It’s been four years since the last Vanden Plas album, though between the 2017 live release The Seraphic Live Works and this year’s massive The Epic Works 1991-2015 box set the long-running German progressive metal band hasn’t exactly been absent. The recently released a new studio album, titled Ghost Xperiment: The Awakening. It’s their ninth full-length release, and once again it’s a concept album.

What’s immediately striking about this album is that it’s Vanden Plas’s shortest release, with just six songs and totaling just under 47 minutes. That’s unusual for the band and for a concept album, even if the songs are fairly lengthy. Ghost Xperiment: The Awakening is the first album in a planned series with a storyline centering on a paranormal experiment and the kind of theatrical flair we’ve seen on the last few Vanden Plas albums. Actually, the album brings to mind singer Andy Kuntz’s Abydos rock opera quite a bit.

One of the drawbacks with concept albums is that the focus is on the overall story and atmosphere and the individual songs don’t always shine through. That, combined with these songs’ longer running times, is a drawback here. There are passages within longer songs like “Devils’ Poetry” and “Fall From The Sky” that grab your attention, but the songs as a whole seem overwrought. The shorter “Cold December Night” and “The Ghost Xperiment” are the album’s most effective songs because there aren’t a lot of drawn-out atmospheric sections to them.

I’m always impressed by this band’s sheer talent and creativity, and they’ve certainly lived up to recent expectations with this album. I do find myself missing the more melodic, song-focused approach of albums like The God Thing and Beyond Daylight though, and wouldn’t mind seeing Vanden Plas give the concept album thing a rest. If you prefer Vanden Plas at their grandest and most theatrical, with more focus on big stories and epic progressive compositions, chances are you’ll love Ghost Xperiment: The Awakening.

Vanden Plas: Ghost Xperiment: The Awakening (Frontiers, 2019) Justin G.
Album Rating

Summary: Enough with the concept albums already...


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