Vanden Plas - Beyond Daylight

Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD093
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:25:00

My introduction to Vanden Plas, which took place a mere two years ago, was a friend mentioning the band's name and promptly proceeding to assure me that the German act was easily one of the best progressive metal bands of the Dream Theater mold, although the comparison simultaneously implied that whatever would come out of a Vanden Plas album wouldn't exactly be very original. And as some of you out there may have very well deduced by now, originality is certainly not an ignorable part of my listening priorities, which kept me from listening to the band at that point and quickly allowed me to nest the name among a long list that I did not feel too pushed to check out immediately.

So imagine my surprise when Beyond Daylight hits the headquarters [where this review originally appeared - PW ed.] and I'm edged to the realization that not only do I have to write the review for it, but also throw away my arrogant preconceptions before I actually listen to the album. Alright ... so I wasn't really surprised; that's what I have been doing for half a year already, and I love doing it. At any rate, my first impression was one of painful distress, as I heard all those Dream Theater similarities that I had previously dreaded and concurrently realized that this was a talented act with a flair and precision that set it well above most Dream Theater clones. Tragic indeed! Because at various, and certainly not few, points throughout the course of its latest album, Vanden Plas bravely keeps carrying the torch of the style that Dream Theater developed during Images and Words, and, more particularly, Awake. That heavy and refined sound with an aggressive edge and gorgeous instrumental interplay of both challenging and memorable passages; the staging of both intense riffs and sentimental ballads set one right after the other; the lengthy magnum opuses; it's all there, and played with unquestionable prowess. The tragic appearance of this, however, was gradually dissolved by the fact that after repeated listening, Beyond Daylight starts to bring forth elements of distinctiveness and personality that previously scurry, hide, and take cover behind more obvious musical traits.

Not that I'm taking back the Dream Theater comparison, because it certainly is a valid one and rears its ugly head all too clearly in tracks such as "Nightwalker" and "Cold Wind," despite the fact that the songs are actually quite good. But once one gets past the initial shock and starts to dig into the world of Vanden Plas, an uncanny ability to write beautiful vocal lines that soar above the perfect balance of Stephan Lill's guitars and Günter Werno's keyboards soon becomes all too obvious, as does the compositional excellency of "Scarlet Flowerfields," "Can You Hear Me," and "Beyond Daylight." This band's ability to take progressive metal and bring its polished and more accessible vein to full realization is, simply put, breathtaking.

And if only it were more original, it would have doubtlessly left me floored. There's a particular moment in "Scarlet Flowerfields," for instance, where the band stops and Torsten Reichert drills his way right in with a killer bass riff that in a matter of seconds is transformed into a cool wall of sound by his bandmates, or a few instants in "End of All Days" during which Andy Kuntz delivers a gorgeous Robert Plantesque wail that left me drooling for more. Such brilliant moments are what manage to place this band at the forefront of all those that have followed the path set years ago by Dream Theater and allow it to branch out just enough to avoid the clone tag. Even then, however, Vanden Plas is close to that tag. Too close, actually. And so it is that you have been warned and know that if what you are looking for is innovative originality you might as well look somewhere else, whereas if you are just looking for a progressive metal album simply delivered with the best of them you've found what you were looking for. At any rate, any release that I consider not very original and still makes the four-frog mark (although barely, I must confess) has to be really good!

Similar Artists: Dream Theater, Fates Warning

Nightwalker (7:30) / Cold Wind (5:20) / 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)

Andy Kuntz - vocals
Stephan Lill - guitars
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: April 21st 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 630
Language: english


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