Vanden Plas - The Seraphic Clockwork
Frontiers Records
Melodic Progressive Metal
9 songs (72'31")
Release year: 2010
Vanden Plas, Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Erik
Album of the year

Listening to a Vanden Plas album is like drinking a smooth liquour of your choice on the beach while being massaged by an aromatherapist. The beverage this band has concocted, like nearly every other release of theirs, goes down easy and stays refreshing over time. It may take a few years between studio sessions, but when they put out, it is always worth a listen. And so, The Seraphic Clockwork -- a trip through nine tracks of pure, honest German progressive metal with a generous helping of melodic ingredients. It's a bit hard to put Vanden Plas music into a category. You could imagine a less frantic version of Dream Theater, Seventh Wonder, Redemption, or maybe even a lighter Ayreon album. Or possibly all of those mixed together. Or none of them. Like I said, it's hard.

What isn't difficult at all, however, is appreciation for great listening experiences like this. The exact opposite of formulaic power metal, The Seraphic Clockword ebbs and flows, seemingly in random yet carefully calculated directions, never harsh or abrupt, and always enjoyable. This is quite possibly the "easy listening" station of progressive metal. And that's saying something, because usually I despise easy listening stations. This, then, is melodic-progressive metal at its finest, with a great amount of layering and technical proficiency. The depth here must be appreciated over several spins, just one won't do it. If possible, this album may even be better than its predecessor masterpiece Christ 0.

The Seraphic Clockwork starts with a pounding off-key riff that sets up the opener Frequency, a great mid-pacer. By the time you reach the chorus, with Andy Kuntz's warm harmonies, you can sit back and relax, knowing that the rest of the album is simply more of the same excellent-ness. Kuntz, incidentally, has always stood out to me as that kind of vocalist that really seems quite mellow, and yet can still punch through a full-on VP riff with authority. Holes In The Sky has another great guitar-based drive to it, that maintains its relentless feel through the entire track. In fact, that could describe nearly every song here -- just minute after minute of Vanden Plas at its best, right on through the closing 13-minute epic On My Way To Jerusalem, which builds majestically throughout. All five band members here are on point and fill their role perfectly.

Aside from the live recording of the song Eleyson (which appears as a bonus track), this is easily one of the best albums from a consistently great band, balancing heavy with delicate in a truly masterful manner. You can't go wrong with The Seraphic Clockwork, especially for any fans of melodic progressive metal that have not yet heard the beauty and talent of Vanden Plas music. Highly recommended as one of the best of 2010.

Killing Songs :
Erik quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Vanden Plas that we have reviewed:
Vanden Plas - Chronicles Of The Immortals-Netherworld reviewed by Joel and quoted 95 / 100
Vanden Plas - Christ.0 reviewed by Ian and quoted 92 / 100
Vanden Plas - Spirit Of Live reviewed by Chris and quoted no quotes
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