Vanden Plas

Ivory Tower – Stronger Review

Ivory Tower – Stronger Review

“I stumbled across Beyond the Stars, the sophomore outing by unsung German prog metallers, Ivory Tower. Though they weren’t doing anything Dream Theater hadn’t done 500 times bigger and with more drum solos, there was something oddly endearing and earnest about the band’s material. I never saw or heard about another release from them until Stronger bobbed up in the promo bin unexpectedly. I doubted it was even the same band, but it is indeed.” Swole spire.

Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld Parts I and II

Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld Parts I and II

Vanden Plas has been a very consistent act in the prog-power scene for over twenty years, releasing album after album of high quality music in the same vein as Anubis Gate, Threshold and early Dream Theater. They always offered plenty of shred, wank and noodle but took pains to keep the music accessible and memorable.” Ready for two albums of big time prog-power? Then ascend to the Netherworld!

Anubis Gate – Horizons Review

Anubis Gate – Horizons Review

“Prog metal can be an off-putting proposition for some folks. With all the odd time signatures, tempo shifts and efforts to show how talented the band is, sometimes the songs themselves are abandoned along the highway of wankery. Power-prog has always been a bit easier to stomach for yours truly, taking the basics of power metal and jazzing it up some, but not too much. In this sub sub-genre of music, Denmark’s Anubis Gate have long been my favorite due to their ability to craft mesmerizing, impossibly catchy melodies and emotional songs that resonate from the very first listen.” Do these great Danes continue to enthrall the jaded Steel Druhm, or has that love died on the vine?

Vanishing Point – Distant is the Sun Review

Vanishing Point – Distant is the Sun Review

“It seems I don’t get to review power metal all that much these days, though it was one of the reasons I was originally recruited by AMG in the first place (my official title was Assistant Chief Power Metal Weenie). Instead, it’s Rogga Johansson this, retro death metal that, yadda yadda yadda. Maybe that’s why it feels so refreshing to hear some genuinely solid power-prog from long running Aussie act Vanishing Point.” Steel Druhm takes a short break from reviewing Rogga Johansson projects to enjoy some prog-power. Feel free to join him.

Voyager – The Meaning of I Review

Voyager – The Meaning of I Review

Now here’s something quite a bit different! Australia’s Voyager has been tinkering with their odd blend of progressive space metal for a while now. However, here on album number four The Meaning of I, they’ve really hit on the perfect blend of influences and styles. Taking elements of traditional, power, progressive and even death metal, Voyager fuses it all together and the result is an odd, hyper-melodic and unique album that’s as intelligent as it is catchy (and its VERY catchy). As a big fan of their 2009 release I Am the Revolution, I expected great things and even I was surprised by how good this ended up. With traces of Nevermore, Star One, Tyr, Pagan’s Mind, Scar Symmetry, Vanden Plas and Anubis Gate swirling about in a creative maelstrom, you should certainly expect the unexpected. Despite the plethora of influences, The Meaning of I ends up a cohesive and compelling release with one killer song after another and brains til Tuesday. In case that doesn’t have you interested yet, they may be the only metal band currently using a melodica both in the studio and live. Call them spacey-prog or astral-metal but whatever tag you throw on them, they rock muchly. Can you tell Steel Druhm is impressed? He is.

Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate Review

Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate Review

Denmark’s Anubis Gate seems fairly unstoppable. After two above average releases in the early part of the millenium, their 2007 opus Andromeda Unchained was a huge breakthrough and one of the best albums that year. 2009’s follow-up The Detached was nearly as good and also one of the year’s best. Now in 2011, they do it yet again with this self titled platter, all the more impressive since they lost the talents of stellar vocalist Jacob Hansen shortly before recording. Anubis Gate specialize in hyper-melodic metal with a fair amount of progressive leanings. To my ears, they always had a strong similarity to Vanden Plas and they excel at crafting memorable and super catchy metallic hymns. Now that bassist Henrik Fevre has stepped in on vocals, the Vanden Plas similarities increase ten-fold since his voice is very much like that of Plas’s Andy Kuntz. This is not a bad thing at all and Fevre does a smash up job as we’re given a whole new set of proggy, melodic metal with the typically strong songwriting these chaps are known for. These guys just know how to write memorable music and I’m happy they maintained their high level of output.