Vanden Plas - Beyond Daylight

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Inside Out
Catalog Number: IOMCD 093
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:25:00

It seems as though the more discs that Vanden Plas releases, the more mixed reviews each ones receives. Beyond Daylight is no exception. There seemed to have been a very mixed reaction to the disc, especially coming off a disc (Far Off Grace) that also had received very mixed reviews, while previous releases enjoyed warmth and welcome from most fans.

Never let it be said that Vanden Plas is a "routine? band; one that opts to play on their previous success and fortune. Instead, the band tries to experiment within their own sound, never letting the listener feel like he is being led away from the signature Vanden Plas sound. On Beyond Daylight, it seems as though the band has run out of fresh ideas, laying down what I feel is their weakest outing to date. The key ingredient missing on this particular Vanden Plas disc has to be "power? or "aggression," something that had never been missing in any disc before. Certainly the melodies have not faded from their memory, as melodies play a vital part to the acceptance of their music. The problem here is that melodies are the only ingredient holding this disc together. The powerful, semi-progressive, aggressive tunes have been replaced here with too many ballads and slow moving songs, almost in repetition, causing the listener to become bored easily, and wonder when the interest will be peaked again. Unfortunately, that never happens.

While Stephan Lill (guitar) manages to still be himself on the disc, trying to inject some sense of power and urgency into the music, Andy Kuntz (vocals) somehow has decided that his very emotional and powerful voice is not needed so much here and tones it way down. This contrast does not work well for me, especially when both guitars and vocals were always the driving force behind the VP sound. It is understandable that ballads require the soft, emotional tone that Kuntz can provide, but it seems that he is comfortable staying in that range / tone, and never recovers to power the few powerful songs remaining. Gunter Werno (keyboards) remains solid as always, but never really gets to shine as he has previously due to the particular songwriting style on this disc. A few songs, "Scarlet Flower Fields?, and "Phoenix? in particular give the hope that the old Vanden Plas is still lingering somewhere, but for the most part the remaining songs take on a ballad-esque feel, and get lost in the listeners' mind very easily.

Production seems to have fallen down a notch as well, especially in the vocal dept, in which Kuntz' already soft singing style is a bit too far back in the mix, making his voice seem twice as overpowered as it already is. He is also delving into more vocal harmonies than is usual for him, which is not a bad thing until the voices get put too far back in the mix to appreciate. The guitars have lost a bit of the signature crunch in the mix as well. Even when fired up in the above mentioned songs, they seem to be held back in the mix instead of up in front assaulting the listener as always. Overall, the production is above average except for the complaints listed above. The disc could have certainly have used a boost in the DB dept for sure.

It is certainly hoped (speaking personally) that the next Vanden Plas disc will come out firing and taking no prisoners, much in the same way that The God Thing once did to unsuspecting fans. I've always had a soft spot for Andy Kuntz' vocals, while lots of people have debated over the quality of his voice. To hear him at what I think is his best, certainly check out The Spirit Of Live, in which his true power and emotions can be heard, and to me has never been recreated on any subsequent discs. The bonus track added here, "Point Of Know Return? certainly doesn't do the disc any more justice - the vocals once again just don't power up to the music, even with the heavier guitar sound that drives the song. I would have certainly preferred a heavier Vanden Plas tune to make up for the loss.

Coming from a true Vanden Plas fan, I'm hoping that the next VP disc is going to be a monster, and put away any notions of the band running out of ideas, vocal shortcomings, powerless tunes, etc. In fairness, there are some smoking moments on the disc, but 3-4 songs do not make a disc great, nor are the songs strong enough to make the disc a winner, or remain in my memory much after the disc leaves the player. I miss the "old? Vanden Plas - the band that put melodic into prog metal and made it an art form for the 90's and beyond. The power, the passion, the emotion -- something is missing here, or in combinations, but certainly this is not the Vanden Plas I have come to know and love.

If you are new to Vanden Plas, I highly recommend starting out with The God Thing and The Spirit Of Live. If you are a Vanden Plas fan looking for info on the disc, I have always used the "buy or die? statement when it comes to this band, but for now, it will have to be "listen first?.

Released in North America by Inside Out Music

Night Walker (7:30) / Cold Wind (3:20) / Scarlet Flower Fields (5:45) / Healing Tree (5:30) / End Of All Days (7:25) / Free The Fire (4:30) / Can You Hear Me (4:10) / Phoenix (5:56) / Beyond Daylight (10:39) / Point Of Know Return () (bonus)

Andy Kuntz. - vocals
Stephan Lill -guitars
and Günter Werno -keyboards
Torsten Reichert -bass
Andreas Lill -drums

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: February 11th 2003
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 905
Language: english


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