Review | All My Shadows – Eerie Monsters
Frontiers Music SRL
I recall these young guns entering with a grandiose album in the 90s, setting sail to conquer the world. `Colour Temple’ dropped and was picked up by the long-gone Dream Circle records in collaboration with Limb Schnoor to be revamped and rereleased. Witnessing Vanden Plas live was quite the spectacle. Modern, melodic and powerful driven metal revolving around progressive dramatic structures. Four decades in, the Kaiserslautern based quintet is considered one of prog metals leading outfits, fusing the genres finest elements into a powerful potion.
When a short message hit my messenger app, I was instantly warped back to those early Vanden Plas days, as Stephan [Lill, guitarist] announced a brand-new collaboration with Andy [Kuntz, vocalist] breathing life into their careers and exploring their sound rooted in classic rock and metal. Closer to the root of their ,,Days of Thunder” single and `Colour Temple’ release, both were to encompass a new direction with All My Shadows.
ALL MY SHADOWS CONFRONTS WITH THE TYPICAL INGREDIENTS
Immediately we get confronted with the typical ingredients of Vanden Plas while spinning the opening track, and video release, ,,Silent Waters”. The powerful Teske production hammers you into Stephan’s riff driven flourishing metal of the band, and Andy’s typical nasal vocals push its comparison. Let’s not make it suffer by comparison. ,,Silent Waters” is a banger! The rousing melodic rocker that fuses a powerhouse foundation and groove to Kuntz’ typical vocal harmonies, delving into a more basic power metal direction. Lill doubles up on harmonies midway, displaying his technique and feeling, while towards the end the drums of his brother Andreas go all in with tormenting double bass execution.
This versatility also finds accolades on the hammered opening of ,,Boy without a Name” with intense melody and riff discharged. Lill blends Lynch reminiscent riffs with his signature sound full of open notes screaming in reverb. Subtle time changes make the song combust constantly and the returning melody and insane pitching solo make for magic. Over all this bombast Kuntz keeps levitating, switching registers and belting out a great performance with depth and power.
DEEP PURPLE, GEORGE LYNCH AND JOHN NORUM
,,Syrens” revives the pompous drama of their Musical performances and most conceptual threaded releases, but still manages to inject a unique volatile synergy with dynamic drum execution contrasting with rigid fills and tom interaction. Franky R’s bass propels its chords adding to the solid foundation. Lill fires his riffs and chords raining with low end drive, while he bends strings screaming towards the end. Teske’s keys are raining piano chords and pumping up the epic track’s dense sound, contrasting with the propelling groove and roaring riffs. Epic!
Piano opens over a droning bass line with subtle drums set a near-jazz mood, with Kuntz slowly inflates for the song’s chorus. Pulsating it evolves with magnificent drama, with Andy displaying his wide range and sincere dramatic overhaul. The erupting solo fits ,,Lifeforms” perfectly, with notes raining. Typical VDP are the stop ‘n go sections, yet there’s deep rich structures, exquisite guitar and vocal harmonies straying from the prog metal root, seamlessly moving the song into the lush opening of ,,Wolverinized”.
The song flourishes with a Deep Purple-tinged bridge full of classic keyboard – guitar interplay that warps us into the `Perfect Strangers’ era. Oscillating its tendencies, the track’s chorus is diverting from that tone, with a hammering tank-like passages of bass and drum underneath memorable vocal lines. Its solo is another one of Lill’s dazzling note salvos, fusing his unique tone to style of George Lynch and John Norum. The song goes out with a progressive bang loaded with slowed keys and riff, that take Andreas’ time changes into a retro bluesy boom hard rock vibe, and doomy atmosphere.
A LOUD ROUSING STADIUM ROCKER
Speaking of atmosphere, ,,Farewell” is a gripping piano ballad revealing their sheer genius as composers. Throbbing low bass starts to power up the atmosphere, with drums ticking the rim. Absolutely A-grade is the guitar melody that laments into a large chorus and choir, making it their typical [conceptual] themed musical tune.
Diving into the 70s classic rock again ,,The Phantoms of the Dawn” swirls with riff dominance, fused to a more 80s rocking melodic sound. ,,Days of Thunder” comes to mind vaguely, transgressed by a modern and powerful rocking execution, and Andy reverting to a different register. Lush melodies and nesting hooks loaded with bluster and energy make the song rise in the melodic spectre. The energy combusts in the opening of ,,Devil’s Ride”, with prog rhythm changes and modern guitar riffs in almost industrial tone. A loud rousing stadium rocker with modern rocking groove and fierce riff.
Concluded by another Purple-toned ,,All My Eerie Monsters”, the album closes in Vanden Plas glory. Proggie, with pumping keys and amazing guitar hooks and riffs, it certainly adds an eerie tone. Kuntz again paints the picture of the lyrics, evoking its content with emotive sincerity, luring the listener into the track. Andreas and Frank R. lay down a lucid dynamic foundation, swinging back and forth in intensity, while Teske’s keys are alternating in tone and power underscoring Stephan’s sublime feeling for tone and melody. His riffs are powerful and steep, while the licks and melodies a showcase of his mastery as a player. The guitar solo is colourful with the gloom and doom of the slower movements met, lifting into a sonic exercise of uplifting melodies as his arpeggios start to pitch.
ALL MY SHADOWS VS VANDEN PLAS
It is inevitable the comparison to Vanden Plas remains in place, featuring the band’s most distinctive performers sound wise. The dramatic structures and explorational diversity, as well as the typical riff and drum combustion, create a reminiscent note. On top Andy’s soaring vocals and tone are benchmark for the Vanden Plas sound. But there’s a lot more on offer at All My Shadows. The band captivates with their take on classic rock and metal, keenly injecting different styles and tones into their action-packed trademark sound. Hinged on the dynamics of their prog and metal roots, the songs reveal hints of classic 70s hard rock injected with 80s flair and swagger, while also displaying classic prog elements and dynamics, all moulded into a format of modern powerhouse hard rock and metal that is topped off by its prolific production. And let’s not forget the wonderful cover-art.
Together with the new The Winery Dogs’ `III’ record, the All My Shadows release `Eerie Monsters’ is a certain contender for ‘best album’ of 2023!
Release date: 17 February 2023