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I still have fond memories of Andy Kuntz's solo record "Abydos - the little boy's heavy mental shadow opera about the inhabitants of his diary". With that in mind, I have really high hopes regarding this new Vanden Plas disc titled as ChristO. After giving ChristO its first spin, I had mixed thoughts about the quality of the material though. Therefore I had to give it a spin after spin till I finally contented myself with the conclusion that this album just doesn't deliver all the time. At times the material is really glorious (better than ever on a Vanden Plas album), but that just isn't enough. The otherwise conventional album just doesn't contain the same shimmer as the previous Vanden Plas records did. With that said, the album is still fairly good.
On ChristO Andy Kuntz has come up with a theme based on the story of the count of Monte Christo with additional contemporary symbolism and dealing with the phenomena of schizophrenia. I really wish InsideOut would include the lyrics with their promos, since following the story is a bit harder without the lyrics sheet. Actually my first listens went by with only concentrating on music, and later on I started to pay attention to the lyrics more. Actually the lyrics bring the best out of music, so they're definitely worth paying attention to.
Musically Vanden Plas explores between the fields of orchestral music and progressive metal occasionally adding hints of modern metal... actually the symphonic flavour is rather fortuitous. In addition, I must add that there are some nice SAGA elements on the middle of "Wish You Were Here". I also enjoyed the gloomy piano interludes here and there. Nevertheless, at times the band would have benefitted from more simplistic approach - listening the whole album through again and again is rather wearisome experience.
The production on this album was handled by Vanden Plas in cooperation with Markus Teske (Saga, Spock´s Beard, Symphony X). The sounds are fairly good, but some details could have been honed. Nonetheless, the balance between the instruments is quite good. Granted the album gives a mish-mash impression every now and then, on average the material gets better towards the end.
Release date: April 3rd, 2006
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- MAGE (March 13th, 2006)
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