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Vanden Plas - Beyond Daylight CD (album) cover


Vanden Plas


Progressive Metal

3.99 | 188 ratings

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Man Overboard
5 stars As I am wont to do, in late 2003 I found myself browsing through the import racks of a music shop, looking for my next fix. My eyes laid upon a cover that looked more typical of an NES-era videogame than a classic prog record. I snickered. "Vanden Plas, wasn't that a car?" I turned the CD over and glanced at the tracklist and tracktimes. Near the bottom was an "Imported From Germany" label; obscuring a few letters of the bonus track. "Point of Know RetIMPORTED FROM GERMANY? Now THAT sounds like a winner." I giggled to myself.

But wait, it couldn't be Point Of Know Retribution. It probably wasn't Point Of Know Retroactive Laws. In fact, I had severe doubts that it was Point Of Know Retrieval, though I would've been amused if it had been. As a rather young progger, I owe a lot to this little band called Kansas. Their compilation, the original Best Of Kansas (not to be confused with the reissue with a slightly different tracklisting), introduced me to progressive rock at the age of 14. As much as prog has done for me, I was curious about this German band who also appeared to have a fascination with Kansas. Running late, I went ahead and purchased the CD on what would seem to be little more than a coincidential blind-buy.

Before I even left the store, I began taking the plastic off, slipping the disc into my CD player. I'll admit, I skipped right to the bonus track. I had to know how they handled a song by the band that had so much influence in shaping my teenage years. Was I disappointed?

I'd say not. The first thing I noticed was the rich, heavy guitar riff that opened the track. Rich Williams of Kansas is known for his "Meatwall" sound, having one of the heaviest, thickest guitar sounds of his era. This was never reflected stronger than in Vanden Plas' cover, which exhibited a tightness and brutality rarely seen outside of a late-70's Kansas show. The vocals did Walsh and Steinhardt justice, extremely clean and powerful with a sense of agelessness sadly absent from Walsh's later works. The synth work brought Livgren's analog Moog lines to mind, with a digital cleanliness. If Phil Ehart's drumwork could be considered to be like a machine-gun assault, Vanden's drums would be a platoon of soldiers bearing the right weapons for the right occasion, precise and powerful with each hit, snares and toms and cymbals harmonizing with the rest of the song, but what's this? Bass-drum work that supplemented the sound in ways rarely seen in progressive rock. In short, a faithful take on a classic, with a very metal feel that would be familiar to anyone who's seem Kansas live in their prime.

But! A cover only appearing on a Special Edition could not make an album worthwhile, could it? I'd say not. Thankfully, the rest of the album delivers. Tight, concise melodies, extremely melodic guitar work, appropriately outstanding keyboards, and vocals that seem almost inhuman in their beauty and power are the order of the day with Beyond Daylight. The cover serves as a mood-setter for the rest of the album; this could've been the lost album between Point Of Know Return and Monolith.

When I was 20 years old, I reached a point where I'd be leaving my entire life behind. Everything I'd worked so hard for had fallen apart, and I was taking a huge chance moving across the country to a place I'd never been. I packed this CD along with several others into my backpack for the 36-hour bus trip. As I was passing the last monument of familiarity, Houston, TX, I noticed something. I was 3 AM, and the city, so bustling and busy on any given day, seemed dead. Beyond Daylight was spinning in my Discman, and it summed up my feelings entirely with the following lyrics (and accompanying music!!) that could've been penned by Kerry Livgren in his prime:

Where we go around from here Will we shed another tear Like the seasons we are leaving to return again

For your mother - for your dad Here is a secret door I'm the tree of magic and consolation For three thousand years or more When my leaves are falling down again You can meet them here from time to time again

I suppose at that moment, I had truly crossed the Point Of Know Return, and in regards to many things of that era, I've never turned back.

There is a running theme throughout the album. An ageless being, good and evil... it's quite intriguing, and I'd love to hear what vocalist Andy Kuntz has to say on the subject. Each track has its own personality, they feel extremely polished and loved, truly the sign of a great band. The album culminates in the amazing title track, a 10-minute epic that ties up all the loose ends.

Why do I give this album 5 stars? Because I feel that it is one of the few perfect albums, like my previously-reviewed Unfold The Future by the Flower Kings. Will this album be a 5-star album to everybody? COULD an album be 5 stars to every single listener? I doubt it. But if you appreciate well-crafted melodic prog in the vein of Kansas, with a modern, metallic touch, there is absolutely NO way you can go wrong with this. I consider it the absolute best work in this genre.

Until an MP3 gets uploaded, please, feel free to listen to this track, provided by the label:

Vanden Plas - Cold Wind

Man Overboard | 5/5 |


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