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Abydos: The Little Boy's Heavy Mental Shadow Opera About The Inhabitants Of His Diary

Well. There are some decent tracks on here, like "Radio Earth" and "A Boy Named Fly." Vanden Plas singer Andy Kuntz rarely sways from fourth-gear histrionic overdrive, and while his is a very solid singing voice, whether aping Freddie Mercury or Glenn Hughes, the lyrical and musical fare leaves much to be desired. One can only wonder if Abydos the band/project was trying to deliver its answer to Ayreon with this; a concept album (as if the title isn't a dead giveaway), much of The Little Boy's Heavy Mental Shadow Opera (ellipsis) comes off that way, but Kuntz & company's objectives were perhaps led astray on "You Broke The Sun" and "Far Away From Heaven," which are ripe with clichéd affectations. The robotic voice which opens "Green's Guidance For A Strategy Adventure Game/Wildflowersky" is cheesier than the pie-shaped hunk Jerry was always scurrying to stuff through his hole-in-the-wall before Tom got close enough to pounce; otherwise, not a bad symphonic rock song (not quite metal). Still, somebody ought to tell certain drummers that rapid-fire sixteenths on twin kicks should be used sparingly — for emphasis, not as a rudiment. This release is getting raves in certain circles, so the faithfully devoted worker bees must be busily crafting a monument of hype. And at seventy minutes, this Mental Shadow Opera just seems to go on for too long. Oh: the cover illustration is pretty cool. ±2-½ stars.

Tracklist:

1. The Inhabitants Of His Diary 1:12
2. You Broke The Sun 5:39
3. Silence 6:55
4. Far Away From Heaven 5:37
5. Coppermoon (The Other Side) 5:09
6. Hyperion Sunset 4:46
7. God's Driftwood 6:10
8. Radio Earth 5:38
9. Abydos 7:25
10. Green's Guidance For A Strategy Adventure Game 1:17
11. Wildflowersky 8:28
12. A Boy Named Fly 12:03

Total time – 70:20

Added: April 13th 2005
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Score:
Related Link: Vanden Plas ~ Official Site
Hits: 1987
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Abydos: The Little Boy's Heavy Mental Shadow Opera About The Inhabitants Of His Diary
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-13 18:39:01
My Score:

Abydos is Vanden Plas vocalist Andy Kuntz' first solo album. It's strange cause I didn't hear about this project until a few months ago and when I did I thought it was going to be one of those albums that float in the prog rock territory. Direct references were being made to the 60's and 70's but upon hearing the CD I was quite surprised at the 'heaviness' factor to be found on this album. This album bears certain similar characteristics with Vanden Plas' 2002 album Beyond Daylight, which is in my opinion despite all the label support still one of the most underrated prog metal albums of the last couple of years.

Based on Andy Kuntz' stage play "The Inhabitants of My Diary", this is a concept inspired by the death of three important people in Kuntz' life in the year 2003, one of them being his father. Andy Kuntz created this album to cope with these dramatic events. Since he's always played leading roles in various musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar and Nostradamus, theatre has always been an important part of his life. Rumours have it that Abydos is the birthplace of theatre in ancient history and as the concept of this album is sort of like an opera, Kuntz felt Abydos was a very fitting name. The album documents a fabulous story about fears, doubts and vital questions which occur when one is losing a beloved one. The concept, however, is vaguely explained in the booklet as Kuntz has already been approached by a number of playhouses which are eager to stage his play. Still, it is evident, reading from the lyrics, that Abydos is a colourful story with some subtle autobiographical touches.

Vanden Plas drummer Andreas Lill kicks off the record with one of the most exciting drum solos ever and the intro delves into "You Broke the Sun" which features Andy Kuntz exploring with incredible vocal harmonies. The song is catchy, poignant, progressive and heavy -- a terrific start. As "Silence" follows, the undeniable James Labrie comparisons begin to show. Some people may even think it's Labrie indeed, but the successive tracks reveal that Kuntz' voice is perhaps an octave or two lower. Accompanying Kuntz on their instruments are Stephan Glass and Michael Krauss on guitars. Glass had also recorded Vanden Plas' Accult acoustic project back in 1996 and it's him who produced Abydos as well. Moreover Glass and Krauss composed the music with Kuntz contributing the lyrics and vocal melodies. The title track is the only song where Kuntz also had a finger in songwriting. Glass and Krauss also play bass, piano and keys. They both prove to be a great duo, particularly in the opening riff and instrumental section of "God's Driftwood". The duo make their talents shine further in the acoustic guitar solo of "Radio Earth" before kicking into a full-blast heavy rocker. The last two tracks "Wildflowersky" and "A Boy Named Fly", also the longest songs on the album, both contain beautiful melodic instrumental parts with sublime orchestration. The latter also features female solo performances by Charlotte Baumann and Mayka Kiefer to bring more depth to the composition.

The title track "Abydos" has an eerily dark intro, almost gothic in a sense, but it quickly shifts mood with the introduction of the soft piano in the background. Andy Kuntz' vocals are without question totally different from everything else he's sung before. This is one of the best songs he's ever penned. Again the orchestration and arrangements in the songs handled by Stephan Glass are top notch. There are bits of everything here, the trademark Vanden Plas sound we've all grown to love over the years with more emphasis given on Kuntz' vocals and lyrics, some spoken parts and narration we'd normally hear on an Ayreon disc, 70's prog rock elements seamlessly blended with heavier guitar riffs and solos, and a great understanding of orchestration to blanket the entire record. If any of these ingredients appeal to you, Abydos is right up your alley.



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