Review | Vanden Plas – The Empyrean Equation of the Long Lost Things

Frontiers Music s.r.l.

Complex as their music, German prog metallers Vanden Plas are set to return to the fold with their highly anticipated new offering `The Empyrean Equation of the Long Lost Things’. Like a fantasy film on acid, the band cooked up a title that goes with extremely well composed sonic novels and smacks the listener in the face constantly. This new album follows the path of their epic concept albums `Chronicles of the Immortals’ and `The Ghost Xperiment’, but sees a return to their classic sound of `Far Off Grace’ as well. The sonics enhanced, Vanden Plas sets out to conquer prog-headz left behind while raising the bar for many in the field, as this equation lays down a new format as benchmark for the genre.


If any conclusion can be drawn from a snippet rundown of these 6 new tracks, it must be that their All My Shadows album reinstated the band’s melodic prowess of their early years, while maintaining their epic thrive as creative forces painting strong musical scenery. Kuntz and Lill rejuvenated their format through this (one-off) production and with the addition of Frontiers’ creative mastermind Alessandro Del Vecchio, replacing founding member Günther Werno, they recalibrate for the future.`The Empyrean Equation of the Long Lost Things’ is an album that immediately enforces the band’s status as a thriving force in the progressive metal genre. Not bound by boundaries, they explored the musical craft like none other, outdoing the biggest names in the field and never failing to deliver.

To my mind, an Empyrean Equation feels like a tedious wordplay to ‘empirical formula’, which is the simplest whole number ratio of atoms present in a compound, while “Empyrean” translates as ‘celestial’, ‘aerial’ or ‘heavenly’. With equation coming across as the formula of the previously mentioned, rounding up the fact of mathematical expression, hence the felt ‘wordplay’. Likely I am overshooting on my dissection of words, but given the inclusion of ‘long lost things’ in the album title, Vanden Plas draws enigmatic puzzles for peeps like yours truly. History and present colliding…


Holy Hell! Introducing the new line-up Vanden Plas released debut video ,,My Icarian Flight” at the fall of February, immediately generating thousands of views. The music contemplated their back catalogue, strongly rooted in their melodic past, as well as reinforcing the powerhouse strongholds of their musical marksmanship: creativity, technicality, compositional mastery and elegiac melodies and vocal work. It all fires on multiple engines with precision and drive, shooting into high gear constantly.

These are the main ingredients of this remarkable comeback, that really isn’t a comeback. It is a mere re-instalment of the forces that be, the equation of why things turn, and why long-lost things are rediscovered for future empowerment. Nothing less, but so much more!


Opened with serene keyboards over a raining sound clip, the title track is slowly pitched into place. Del Vecchio knows his ways when it comes to cinematic exposure and blends the band’s feeling for drama (build during their lifelong experience as participants and creators of rock operas) with spiting drama. The song pitches into orbit with Andreas ‘the unshakeable’ Lill’s insanely versatile progressive drum rhythms and Torsten Reichert’s enormous bass licks and chords intertwined. Stephan Lill’s must be one of metal’s most overlooked guitarists and he lays down the most insane riffs opening for wonderous melodies. Totally unexpected Andy Kuntz soars into the pitch with the chorus, making ,,The Empyrean Equation of the Long Lost Things” an introduction epilogue clocking 7:59, returning to its heavy metal form after this short thematic unload of the vocal melody. 

Breaks delivered by the dozens, hooks towering in the wake of its gigantic pompous unload, the song goes out with a bang, baffling the listener upon their maiden spin of the record.


The cinematic heavy track is the format opening of the album, stacking musical themes and towering into their debuting video release. ,,My Icarian Flight” is densely layered and packed with Vanden Plas’ key ingredients. The classic melodic format is crafted onto progressive hooks, constantly combusting with their dramatic interplay and soaring melody exposure. Landing immediately in every cell of your DNA, the VDP gene is generating the heavy prog metal vibes of your life, emulating the band’s panache and musical marksmanship. High on steroids the song evokes memories and injects musical scenery. The bliss is magnificent and with towering magnitude, discharging the elegiac melodies and wails of ,,You Fly” from `Far off Grace’ while tapping the conceptual vein of `The Ghost Xperiment’. 

Clocking over 10 minutes, ,,Sanctimonarium” unites the words ‘morerium’, a financial company’s mission making digital currency, with ‘sanctimony’ which is the practice of feeling superior to others. It falls into fold with the heavy drive of the song, weld onto a discharge of several musical themes blending in the bridge and chorus. Guitars unveil a ticking clock, counting down amidst the turmoil casted. Heavy on its momentum, the song rolls forward with intensity and the parading riff and keyboard interplay midway is enforcing the song’s momentum and power. Andy Kuntz soars and switches to high powerhouse vocal unload introducing Stephan’s dazzling solo. 


Returning to the melodic centre piece of the song, keyboards start swirling with Alessandro displaying his creative and compositional additions to the brooding prog cocktail of Vanden Plas. Andreas hammering the song back to a heavy tidal, keys are changed for classic organ sounds, adding contemporary luster before the Hammond sound makes the song go full circle on hard rock music in general. Andy roars into action again, belting out the fierce register. High on octane, he is spotless. Powerful and clear. Wailing and soaring according the musical tenure of the highly progressive song. Epic chants and breaks in the end, drama increases!

Jagged riffs and keys stirring up the condensed soundscape of ,,The Sacrilegious Mind Machine” make the next chapter of Vanden Plas shoot into high orbit. The song reveals the band’s constant growth and Lill’s creative and musical prowess unfold dual colors and riffage. Andreas as the silent hammering tempo machine, creates a foundation of highly memorable technicality feeling fluent. The tempo shifts and polyrhythms fluent grip amidst the musical turmoil. Hammering down war drums in the centre the musical paramount, he keeps linking the past and recent years. Reichert is relays on his provoking playing. He lays down wonderful melodies and contemplates the guitar carnage with a swirling low-end growl, guarding the musical density. 


In the middle of the track the ethereal solo is slowly propelling in heaviness with Torsten padding up the strut going into the jagged heavy syncopated section that is counterbalanced by Del Vecchio’s intense key works. The end game of the instrumental unleashes an insanely melodic solo that bridges into the vocal melody returning. Andy roars out with balls and gradually the song picks up momentum in melodies and intensity. Layered harmonies are stacked and the song’s riff and lick are taking it into the powerful parading last section of the song. Over the jagged staccato interplay, Lill lays down one of the most mind-boggling solos of the year. 

Where Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) on the praised ,,Rise”-solo dropped jaws, the German guitarist does and equally inspiring job with his solo at the song’s end, stacking enigmatic themes and melodic phrasing creating a memorable blend of shred metal guitar playing and Hendrix. Modern fast firing fretboard magic loaded on the back of great string bending, injecting emotion and recognizable melodies in the scenery.

This is my journey of time, and I’m trying to find…”, Andy croons with enormous atone emphasizing the musical dexterity of the song and its delivery. 


Swirling fretboard magic is packed onto the marching rattling drums with Vanden Plas building for their 15-minute + endgame ,,March of the Saints”. The backbeat of Andreas rhythm shifts is tremendous and Andy explored the tidal waves of the song which are gritting up with key ‘n guitar drops in the band’s insanity of melody. Short lived solo spot of guitar is fused onto the keyboard swirl and the intension between guitar and keyboards is as enormous as the jettison of drum and bass. The whole song propels with wonderful progressive dynamics and towering melodies. The harmonies stacked, guitars doubled down, and keys in line with the melodic offload, this is presenting Vanden Plas’ finest thrust and velocity

Amidst all the musical expanse, Kuntz remains focused, laying down the needed attitudal discharge. He pitches powerful, without fading on his register, landing deep. The piano strokes midway, drums in war march, and guitar swirling with magnetic force of melody; the offload is tremendous. Soothing vocals at the helm, the jagged riff is morphed into a clinging melody and theme. It all gels into the 15 minutes of the song, making for freaky magic, and even The Police’s short jazzy intermission adds to the grandeur of the song. Magic, magical, memorable!


`The Empyrean Equation Of The Long Lost Tings’ is enforcing Vanden Plas as one of the flag bearers of the prog metal genre. Severely overlooked, this band is redefining the markers of the genre. This is, and will be, the best band in the field!

Their new album is a statement. This record is a bible for worship of this music. The album is everything you need to define your guttural surge (and ‘search’) to fill any musical void. This is the Stanley Kubrick view on music in general. Macbeth’s ‘Romeo and Julia’ for music aficionados. 


Release date: 19 April 2024



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