Vanden Plas - 'The Seraphic Clockwork' (Frontiers Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Simon Hadley   
Monday, 21 June 2010 06:00

Vanden_PlasThe sixth full length album from German progressive metallers Vanden Plas consists of eight tracks (well nine really if you include bonus cut 'Eleyson') designed to take the listener on a semi-symphonic journey. According to the band's website, 'The Seraphic Clockwork' loosely follows the concept of traveling through space and time from 16th century Rome to 33 A.D. Jerusalem.


The album's eight track ambition is matched by its large production that provides a multitude of polished melodies and musical landscapes.


Guitarist Stephan Lil is central to the band's ambitions and his contribution is the album's lynchpin. From the chugging riff of album opener 'Frequency' to the instantly catchy 'Holes In The Sky' and the 12 minute album closer of 'On My Way To Jerusalem' featuring a two minute meaty solo that resembles early Metallica, Stephan Lil keeps the band alive. As the progressive label would also suggest,  Lil also shows his versatility as a guitarist, ranging from aggressive thrash like melodies to soft acoustic contributions, Lil uses 'The Seraphic Clockwork' to showcase his talents well.


Unfortunately, like many of Vanden Plas's contemporaries the band sticks to a very predictable format of orchestral and keyboard openers that often disrupt the flow of the album and become stale very quickly. Possibly the best way to describe Vanden Plas is by taking the grander elements of Dream Theater and the thrash elements of Iced Earth to create a complex and at times experimental progressive sounding metal album.


Although the band has been around for over a decade, Vanden Plas continue to be a secret in the metal community and with this album they could attract new fans and find the breakthrough into the mainstream progressive metal genre that they are looking for.