Vanden Plas
The Ghost Xperiment: Illumination

Label: Frontiers Music
Three similar bands: Dream Theater/Pagan's Mind/Rush

Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. When The World Is Falling Down
2. Under The Horizon
3. Black Waltz Death
4. The Lonely Psychogon
5. Fatal Arcadia
6. The Ouroboros
7. Ghost Engineers
8. Krieg Kennt Keine Sieger

Stephan Lill - Guitars
Torsten Reichert - Bass Guitar
Andy Kuntz - Vocals
Andreas Lill - Drums
Günter Werno - Keyboards

1994 - Colour Temple
1997 - The God Thing
1999 - Far Off Grace
2000 - Spirit of Live (live)
2002 - Beyond Daylight
2006 - Christ 0
2010 - The Seraphic Clockwork
2014 - Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld
2015 - Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld II
2017 - The Seraphic Live Works
2019 - The Ghost Xperiment: Awakening

Alea - vocals on track 8
Ulli Perhonen - vocals on track 3, 7
Oliver Hartmann - backing vocals
Herbie Langhans - backing vocals
Jacob Roters - cello (track 7)
Katherine Barritt - viola (track 7)
Anton Roters - violin (track 7)
Burdette L. Becks - flute (track 3)
Eva Alexandrian - violin (track 3)
Peter Kuntz - shouts (track 5)
Markus Teske - backing vocals
Manuel Lothschütz - backing vocals
Jürgen Rehberg - backing vocals


Released 2020-12-04
Reviewed 2020-12-30



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The Ghost Xperiment continues and concludes with this second part called Illumination; Germans Vanden Plas seems to have developed a liking for two-part adventures over two albums. It seems as though they have been developing in a grander direction over the years, they have been around for quite a while now with the first album being released back 1994. They haven’t really evolved much since then though, only becoming larger in their productions but stylewise they are doing the same thing now as they did in 1994 when they started their journey. This new two parter has an artwork that looks the same on both the albums, different colour but otherwise the same – the same goes for the musical content, but it doesn’t really differ at all between the two releases.

Musically they are called progressive metal, they do music in the same style as Dream Theater – like a copycat almost. This album has big sound and strong production, the vocals are great but Kunz still needs to learn to articulate the words better so you can actually listen to the album and also get the concept – that is difficult when it is hard to make out the words he is singing. You probably get lyrics with the CD and vinyl and that will help address this matter. Besides the vocals I also think that Günter Werno will have to be considered one of the premier keyboardists in the metal genre, but the entire band are great at what they do – outstanding musicianship throughout this album. But also familiar, the same as the previous in this concept but also very predictable considering their history before it, that can be a letdown.

But despite being the same as always, they are just so great at making strong albums that it doesn’t matter, at least not during the time you listen to the album. I really like it; it is brilliant at times and really good overall. It would however be even better if they shortened the songs to 4-5 minutes tracks and if they really dared to move outside of the shadow of Dream Theater. This album, in its greatness, still feels a bit void of the excitement that the best albums have, and the fact is that no matter how well Vanden Plas does, they will never top Dream Theater, to surpass the pioneers you need to make something different and it was a long time since the music of Dream Theater or Vanden Plas could be considered progressive. Neither of them has really come up with anything conceptually progressive since 1992.

If you like Vanden Plas, you will find this one right up your alley and it is probably something that will go down well with most metal fans. I like it, find it very good, but I will not buy it, I already have more than enough albums by Vanden Plas and some of their past releases are much better than this one. So, this experiment ends well, hopefully they managed to find something that would make their next albums less predictable – I think they are old and successful enough to risk a total failure next time. This album is Vanden Plast showcasing their great musical prowess in the same manner as always and as usual it is quite excellent.