Vanden Plas – Christ 0 Review

“Flash…AAA-AAAHHHH, he’ll save every one of us.”

Yep, first thing through my head was the song that deconstructed all of Queen’s fantastic work through the seventies and heralded their decline into an anachronistic shambling bathhouse act in the eighties. That’s the problem with hearing far too many bands for far too many years. The references come unbidden and can ruin an otherwise enjoyable – or artificially enhance an otherwise forgettable – musical experience.

Think you know where I am going with this? Soft, come take my hand, let’s us just see with what fortune may assail us, shall we?

I have a serious loathing for power/prog/retro “purist” metal. It’s no secret. And this is a kind of prog/power act, so the review would seem a given. You could just read the scores above and figure I spent the review itself ranting about how Geoff Tate fucked real metal in the ass. Not really a bad plan on your part. I am nothing if not pointlessly consistent. Until now. I like this record. A fucking Lot.

“UIOEFNuNbWWWJSDHAGHAG!???!??!” you may retort.

Really. If you MUST do power/prog with a real singer, ganged chorals, melody and faggy keyboards, well, then you should do it like these guys, I guess. The key is the songwriting. These compositions are not simply homages to a time when no one knew better than to write boring shit because there were no thrash or speed metal bands yet and we all were convinced punk was a dying musical form which appealed to the neuvoriche decadents we all wanted to beat with crocodiles. Nor are they monuments to the godlike abilities of the musicians involved to the detriment of any actual musical viability. They are, in fact, damned good songs, played perfectly and with more than enough contemporary edge to keep this thing off my list of pretentious pig shit.

Well, not completely. But often enough to get a recommend. There is such a delicate balance on this thing between everything I hate about the genre and transcendent record making that I find myself, again and again, wondering how they do it. I have heard other bands pull this off, but generally they are just downplaying their artfag sides. This band not only doesn’t downplay it’s inner Warhol, but Fweddies it up to nearly Liberacian levels. Flamboyancy, though, comes to you via the abilities of a band of ROCK musicians. Instead of phony melodrama and overwrought melodies, you get intricate time signatures, perfectly distinct key changes and chord phrasing, and the ability to simply fucking jam. The motto of this band seems to be “when in doubt: pound”. It’s nice when musicians this talented remember why music is appealing to people who don’t attend Julliard.

As an aside, all power metal singers with naturally clean voices should be strapped into a chair in a very cold room with nothing to see or do but listen to this guy NOT fucking abuse his position as singer for this band.

The recording itself is problematic. Where the hell is the meat? Where is the bottom? The churn for all this butter? The whip for all this cream? I would very much have liked to hear this recorded as a metal record. The chords are so light and fluffy I kept checking to see if I had accidentally left the “loudness” button in the off position on my stereo. I will give you credit for a crispy and easy to hear recording, but man, it’s borderline eighties power pop. That’s not going to get you where you want to go. Another complaint is that, while the songs are very good, someone might have walked in about halfway through a few of them and unplugged everything. Point sufficiently belabored.

But the bottom line is steadfast: I am never going to recommend a power/prog band to you unless I really, really think they are contributing not just to their own pathetic scene, but to the entire genre of modern heavy metal. And I am confident that this band does just that. I would drop this fucker in right after spinning the new Decapitated, Jesu and Hate without even batting an ear. And even though it would sound slightly anemic after those recordings, the songs and performances themselves would hold up very fucking well. You can count on one hand the number of post ‘85 power/prog/retro bands I will say that about. I suggest, very strongly, you get a hold of a sample of this band and see if I am full of shit again. And if you once again conclude I am then get therapy because I am always right and disagreement with me denotes mental disease.

Well, check them out anyway.

Posted by Chris Sessions

I write for Last Rites, but in my mind it is spelled Lassed Writes because I am a dreamer.

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