Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

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elendil
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Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby elendil » Mon May 15, 2017 8:30 pm

I hope you'll indulge me if I wax appreciative for a bit over an album that's about 13 years old now and has stuck with me over the years. The album is Abydos, _The Little Boy's Heavy Mental Shadow Opera About the Inhabitants of His Diary_. It was a side project of Vanden Plas vocalist Andy Kuntz, and in my view it's (even) better than any Vanden Plas studio album.

It's got a mix of VP-style progressive metal and sort of Andrew Lloyd Weber-ish warm symphonics (choral vocals, string and horn orchestrations). The ballads "You Broke the Sun," "Far from Heaven," and "Radio Earth" are among the most striking compositions here, with their blend of verging-on-bombastic symphonics and warm, melodic pathos. The 70-minute album ends strong too, with "A Boy Named Fly" serving up by turns angular, chunky, technical-progressive metal riffs and gentle vocal counterpoint harmonies. Really, the album has something for everyone - my generally non-metallic (but Dream Theater-loving) wife enjoys the ballads, and I savor the instrumental pyrotechnics and classical influences.

I'm not generally a rock-opera fan (Ayreon, Aina, etc.), but this album really sets itself apart from the pack. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that, but I'm interested in others' views and am curious why this project never got more attention.

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Sir Exar Kun
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Tue May 16, 2017 9:39 am

Abydos was a great disc for sure, and I thought it got a fair amount of love around these parts when it first came out. Personally, I would not stack it above the VP albums, but that's more because of how highly I think of VP rather than any knock on Abydos.

Andy Kuntz absolutely SHINES on this disc, for sure. He always brings it, but Abydos showed a bit more range than Vanden Plas typically does. Going into it, I honestly thought the album would be even more eclectic and diverse than it ended up being. I know the VP guys all work in musical theater, so I had really thought Abydos was going to cross over heavily into the theatrical realm, but it ended up still being very much grounded in rock.

Good call on bringing up this "oldie". I may have to break this out again, as its been a few months since I last listened to it.
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elendil
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby elendil » Tue May 16, 2017 9:48 am

Yeah, I figured the folks around here would appreciate it. Good to know it wasn't totally overlooked!

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LarryD
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby LarryD » Tue May 16, 2017 9:59 am

I need to snag a copy of this if I can find it..........of all the people who love Andy's vocals, I'm ashamed to admit I never bought a copy........

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elendil
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby elendil » Tue May 16, 2017 1:34 pm

If you enjoy the lighter side of VP's work (e.g., "Crown of Thorns"), you should like this as well.

outprogged42
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby outprogged42 » Tue May 16, 2017 5:45 pm

I found this record extremely diverse, more so than Vanden Plas ever have been, and very proggy at the same time. It's pretty known that the experiments done on this record had an influence on the forthcoming VP releases - the first of them being Christ 0 which is a flawless masterpiece. A song like "Radio Earth" is akin to Pink Floyd which isn't an influence often felt in VP's style. I also find it mellower, as Vanden Plas' music tends towards the metal side of prog-metal, though there are plenty of heavy riffs too. Surprisingly many of the riffs sound similar to VP even though the musicians are all different, except the drummer.

The lyrics are as impenetrable and arcane as they often are with Andy's writing, but there is a common thread of spiritual searching and emotional journeying that was born from the loss of several of his family members. Evidently this was a cathartic album in many ways and it shows in the bravery of the songwriting and emotional expression, that would go on to augment the VP sound. It was a big turning point for the band to have this album made.

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LarryD
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby LarryD » Tue May 16, 2017 7:00 pm

I actually found a used copy out there for $9.00, so I'm good to go and looking forward to it ........... thanks a bunch for the scoop.

outprogged42
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby outprogged42 » Tue May 16, 2017 10:57 pm

LarryD wrote:I actually found a used copy out there for $9.00, so I'm good to go and looking forward to it ........... thanks a bunch for the scoop.


For this album, that price is an absolute steal. Nab it before you can say Bob's your uncle.

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LarryD
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby LarryD » Wed May 17, 2017 7:05 am

outprogged42 wrote:
LarryD wrote:I actually found a used copy out there for $9.00, so I'm good to go and looking forward to it ........... thanks a bunch for the scoop.


For this album, that price is an absolute steal. Nab it before you can say Bob's your uncle.



***Nabbed. :wink:

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LarryD
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Re: Abydos - a retrospective appreciation

Postby LarryD » Tue May 23, 2017 11:56 am

After one pass in my car of this disc, I was a little underwhelmed. I wasn't expecting Vanden Plas, but I wasn't expecting this .... I don't find the melodies as catchy as VP, and Andy doesn't sound too "excited" as he does on the VP discs. It's as though the music isn't powerful enough for his voice or something like that ....... I know I'm late to the party on this, and I'm trying not to compare it to VP per se, I was just expecting something a little more dramatic maybe ? Have not played it on the main system yet, so I reserve full judgement after that -- but I always take a new disc in the car with me to get the feel of it, and I don't feel too excited about this one yet....... but for $9, it was worth it either way ..........


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