Why is it that just about every progressive metal album these days is compared to the mighty DREAM THEATER? Is it because it all just sounds the same after a while or is it because they are such an influence that most bands in the genre inevitably sound like them? I believe in this case, it’s the latter, especially when you consider that the brainchild behind ABYDOS is Andy Kuntz, the singer of progressive metal act, VANDEN PLAS. Not only is the music very similar at times to DREAM THEATER but also Kuntz has a voice that is often hard to distinguish from that of their singer, James LaBrie. Now what I just said is not belittling by any means – in fact it’s a compliment because this album may have managed to sound better than almost anything DREAM THEATER has done in a long time!
“The Little Boy’s Heavy Mental Shadow Opera About the Inhabitants of His Diary” is a concept album about a young boy and his mental struggles after the death of his father. The album opens with a short instrumental track titled “The Inhabitants of His Diary” and then leads seamlessly into “You Broke the Sun.” This song starts with Kuntz accompanied by only a piano and acoustic guitar but gradually builds into a stellar PINK FLOYD-influenced epic complete with choir and soaring vocals. Next track up, “Silence,” is heavy with a killer chorus not all that far from THRESHOLD territory (see review on this site). “Far Away from Heaven” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It’s similar to “You Broke the Sun” in that it starts out on the mellow side but again leads to an epic finish with lush arrangements and the lofty vocals of Kuntz. “Coppermoon (The Other Side)” kicks the proceedings up a notch with punchy keyboards and some great double bass drum playing – a very progressive and very powerful song. “Hyperion Sunset” continues with a heavy progressive arrangement yet remains very melodic. The track “God’s Driftwood” is a mid-paced song with an almost hypnotic feel to it and it leads directly into “Radio Earth,” which is the most accessible song on the album. It’s very melodic with pop-like sensibilities about it. The song “ Abydos” starts on a very dark note and then builds slightly before giving way to another epic finish. The next track, “Green’s Guidance for a Strategy Adventure Game” is more of a “computer generated” spoken-word intro to “Wildflowersky” which is a prog-heavy song very reminiscent of early DREAM THEATER. The album ends with “A Boy Named Fly.” This song is very diverse with many different styles throughout. It features a little bit of everything… progressive arrangements, some nice acoustic guitar and piano bits and even a female vocal part! It’s a nice way to sum up the story of this album.
A special nod should go to band members Stefan Glass and Michael Krauss, who pretty much wrote all the music on the album. There are truly some great arrangements and breathtaking instrumental pieces throughout. It also should be noted that each song stands on its own and that is no small feat when writing a concept album. In summary, fans of VANDEN PLAS and progressive music in general will find much to like about this album but any music fan can appreciate the shear talent by all involved. This is an album definitely worth checking out.
- Andy Kuntz - Vocals
- Stefan Glass - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Piano
- Michael Krauss - Guitars, Keyboards, Piano
- Andy Lill – Drums
- The Inhabitants of His Diary
- You Broke the Sun
- Far Away From Heaven
- Coppermoon (The Other Side)
- Hyperion Sunset
- God's Driftwood
- Radio Earth
- Green's Guidance for a Strategy Adventure Game
- A Boy Named Fly