Vanden Plas - AcCult

Year of Release: 1998
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 020
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:31:00

I'll admit that before I had heard The God Thing, what would have drawn me to this release (had it been available domestically at the time) would be the band's cover of the Marillion chestnut "Kayleigh" and its lead-in "Pseudo Silk Kimono," though Vanden Plas only play it as a brief theme before starting on "Kayleigh." It's kinda weird to here this track in a more sparse arrangement - Accult is VP's acoustic release (Limb Music, 1996). They do not perform a by-rote version, but do stay fairly faithful to the original. That is, vocalist Andy Kuntz does not try to sound like Fish, except on occasion, nor does Stephen Lil try to duplicate Steve Rothery's playing note for note, maybe as it's been given a different character in an acoustic setting -- although he does comes close at times. I'm not saying, by the way, that he misses the mark, just that he plays it differently. I won't say they make it their own, but do a fairly good job in rendering the piece. Those familiar with the original will have no trouble recognizing the song, let's say.*

Also included on this release is a cover of "Georgia On My Mind,"** the Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorell classic. Keyboardist G?nter Werno here plays an especially warm piano here, and Kuntz sings with just the right amount of restraint, retaining a sad, bluesy-jazz feel. Lil provides a quiet, but very much present, wall of fuzzed guitar at one point, and then plays a lovely, emotive guitar solo. In fact, I think they do a much better job rendering this than their take on "Kayleigh." They also cover Saigon Kick's "Spanish Rain," which features both some very, very nice guitar work from Lil and piano work from Werno -- actually, some great performances from all involved. I'm not familiar with the original (though I do know who Saigon Kick are/were), but here it has spicy, Latin jazz feel. And, with just piano and vocals only, they render "Des Hauts, Des Bas" by Stephan Eicher (again, one I'm not familiar with otherwise).

The rest of the album includes acoustic versions of tracks from the band's first album, Colour Temple. The first, "My Crying," features a cascading waterfall of lovely piano notes from Werno, and later, a breezy acoustic solo from Lil. The second CT track is "Father," where you'll understand where the Dream Theater comparisons come from, as here Kuntz sounds eerily like James LaBrie, and that is by no means a complete. Even though rendered acoustically, this song has quite a bit of power, and except for a certain added warmth, you'd not necessarily know it was acoustic from just hearing it. "How Many Tears," is the same way, especially once it really kicks in? and some of Lil's leads sound especially cool acoustic, so resonant and warm. I think of the album's 11 tracks, this is my favourite ("Spanish Rain" comes a close second).

Various editions of this album have come out over the years - it was first released in 1996. This edition from 1998 includes as the bonus track "Raining In My Heart" - another nicely rendered piece, quite mellow, and includes the subtle use of keyboards, though it's piano and voice, and occasionally guitar, that are up front. And because there are multiple versions, on this one (at least) "Days Of Thunder," which features Paul A Schneider on cello (excellent), is not an instrumental. On other versions, it was a bonus track along with "Fire" (not included here). Of course, the most recent is the twofer version, where it is the second disc to the Colour Temple - Special Edition edition.

Though one might expect an acoustic (or mostly acoustic) album to feel sparse and dry, if not properly done, AcCult has neither. It's rich and warm, inviting and occasionally intimate ("Raining In My Heart" especially). And it isn't kitchy, nor does it have that "filler" feel to it. It stands on its own. And I'm sure their take on "Kayleigh" will grow on me.

*my reviewing Misplaced Childhood in this same "issue" is, as it turns out, coincidence, as it was prompted by my review of another CD published last month? ** it's interesting, this song, because little did they know that five years later they'd be booked for ProgPower II in Atlanta?Georgia ? (though they ultimately backed out)?

Pelekanov (0:34) / My Crying (4:54) / Theme From 'Pseudo Silk Kimono' (0:41) / Kayleigh (4:56) / Father (5:03) / Georgia On My Mind (5:04) / How Many Tears (7:09) / Des Hauts, Des Bas (4:18) / Spanish Rain (7:15) / Days Of Thunder (4:39) / Bonus Track: Raining In My Heart (4:38)

Stephan Lil - guitars
G?nter Werno - piano
Andy Kuntz - vocals
Andreas Lil - drums
Torsten Reichert - bass

Colour Temple (1994)
Accult (1996)
The God Thing (1997)
Far Off Grace (1999)
Spirit Of Live (2000)
Beyond Daylight (2002)
Colour Temple/AcCult (special edition) (2002)
Christ 0 (2006)
The Seraphic Clockwork (2010)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 889
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]