Vanden Plas - The God Thing

Year of Release: 1997
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD016/SPV 085-28572CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:22:00

Although this disk has already been reviewed here once [by LarryD], having been intriqued by that review enough to want to give it a listen, I thought I would also share my thoughts on it.

My take on Vanden Plas' sound, at least here, is that they are influenced by Dream Theater. But that an easy comparison to make - you get dynamic instrumtentation, both aggressive and passive passages (where passive is aggressive compared to, say, neo-progressive), and a tenor vocalist and you already have the ingrediants for a DT-like sound. And yet, I hear a tinge of Rush ... very, very slight, such that I might be imagining things based on Andreas Lill's drumming.

Vocalist Andy Kuntz has voice that sounds vaguely like LaBrie's - he does sing with the same inflection, though the slight accent to some of his notes keep him clear of being a clone. His vocals on the ballad-esque "Crown Of Thorns" is much stronger on the quiter parts than LaBrie's have been of late (on DT releases). Kuntz is not the best singer out there treading the boards. I'm not sure who is, but I have to tell you, I like his voice despite it's nasal quality. Live, I dunno, but here on this disk - its just this side of good enough to give this disk high marks.

But, this album isn't vocals alone. It's not like it's "Kuntz and his backing band." The keyboard parts here by Günter Werno are sweeping, with hints of a classical influence. I was hooked from the first notes of the first track "Fire Blossom" - an instrumental piece that slowly builds as each player joins in. This song tells you exactly what you're in for - dynamic, intelligent metal.

Throughout, Stephan Lill's guitars chug, chime, and shine with energy, even when they are in a slower paced groove. This more melodic metal than shred - again proving my contention that it doesn't matter how fast you can play notes if they're all the wrong ones. Vanden Plas aren't afraid to let the guitars shimmer, as the do on the closer "You Fly." Of course, again, there's a strong Dream Theater dynamic here, too, and they've incorporated some of the same moves. But, if DT aren't really doing it anymore, then someone needs to. This is the album - energy wise - that DT should have made in 1997 - not to take anything away from Vanden Plas for doing it instead.

I think the singular thing that makes this disk stand out, aside from the great production, is the tight arrangements... each note, phrase, beat keeps you moving forward. Sure, the chugga chugga of the guitars helps with that effect. What I'm glad they avoid is the monotonous and dull practice of having the drums play "dum, dum, dum, dum" either at moderate or accellerated speed. To me, that is uninteresting. I mean, if you want you drummer to bang away like one of those toy monkeys, buy a drum machine for heaven's sake. Give me instead a drummer who uses the whole kit, creating a dynamic and varied sound. Vanden Plas give me that, and means they are chalked up as a winner in my book.

Great stuff. Highly recommended. Think I'll have to nab their new one Far Off Grace when it hits US shores.

Fire Blossom (2:55) / Rainmaker (6:39) / In You I Believe (4:29) / Day I Die (6:04) / Crown of Thorns (6:44) / We're Not God (7:12) / Salt In My Wounds (7:21) / You Fly (7:31)

Andy Kuntz - vocals
Torsten Reichert - bass
Stephan Lill - guitars
Andreas Lill - drums
G?nter Werno - keyboards

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: September 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1248
Language: english


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