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Vanden Plas - Beyond Daylight CD (album) cover


Vanden Plas

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5 stars Let there be no doubters, the ascension is complete: VANDEN PLAS forcefully seals their position among the absolute elite of pomped, melodic prog-metal with their new "Beyond Daylight." It has the melodic rush of early DREAM THEATER singles. It shows a mature command of mood and drama that makes it every bit as compelling as the best work from DT or SHADOW GALLERY. It is superb in every respect. Indeed, VANDEN PLAS may well be the genre's finest combination of melody, metal, and accessible pomp/prog creativity.

Equally gifted at rich, spacious balladry and adrenalized metal, VANDEN PLAS effortlessly interweaves a broad spectrum of energies on "Beyond Daylight." Without resorting to gratuitous excess in any dimension, their songs consistently resonate with both emotional depth and musical sophistication, moving both mind and soul. Memorable highlights include the ominous "Scarlet Flower Fields," the sweeping drama of "Healing Tree" and "Can You Hear Me," the soaring metallic intensity of "End Of All Days," the hard-charging "Free The Fire," the lengthy, multi-textured title track, and pretty much every other cut on the disc.

Overall, "Beyond Daylight" is beyond brilliant. For fans of melodic beauty in prog-metal, it is a hugely gripping success.

Report this review (#11018)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars What can I say? After reading so many mainly really positive reviews I thought I give them a chance. Vanden Plas is a Prog-Metal band from Kaiserslautern/Germany, many say a very good one with ambitions to be named in the same league as "Dream Theater". Well, referring to my own impression I really can't confirm. "Beyond Daylight" really disappointed me. I like to think that it is normal metal instead of innovative prog. The songs are rather boring and far from being diversified, not only comparing the different songs, also within every song "Vanden Plas" lacks to diversify. I can't understand the hype about this band. I don't want to compare them to "Dream Theater" or judge them by comparing but I ofter heard that "Vanden Plas" is able to outpace DT. But without some instrumental highlights, diversified melodies and song structures it is not possible to beat a genre primus like DT. I think that Vanden Plas is not worth checking out, there are so many better prog metal bands out there, "Pain of Salvation" for example just to name one. Unlike "Vanden Plas" they try to sound different, they are innovative. VP often tries to copy the DT sound, that's at least what it sounds like...but I think that they ruefully shipwrecked. Real die-hard prog-metal fans can maybe add one or two stars but all others, please don't touch this one, you will just waste your money.
Report this review (#11019)
Posted Sunday, July 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Vanden Plas hails from the beautiful Fatherland. Their music is as vast as the Black Forrest of their homeland. According to the group they have released their most stylistically diverse recording to date with Beyond Daylight. I certainly can concur that I heard a good cross section of powerful rock music on this advance CD. The first edition is set for the first pressings and it will include a bonus track, which is a cover version of Kansas' classic rocker "Point Of Know Return." So not only can their fans enjoy a more assorted mix of metal and prog-rock, they get a blast from the past.

There are some standout tracks such as "Scarlet Flower Fields"; it's most impressive with its fascinating lyrical content and the mightily charged vocals of Andy Kuntz. Stephan Lill (guitars) and Günter Werno (keyboards) form a formidable wall of sound as the rhythm section of Torsten Reichert (bass) and Andreas Lill (drums) pummels your senses until you submit. "Beyond Daylight" is their grand masterstroke painted from the varied progressive musical palette. The curtain closes slowly and with purpose as this epic number pushes you beyond the fringes of music itself as it sucks you into its time warp. You will easily fall into the lure of fantasy with this music, which I am sure is the intent and focus of the entire project. Good prog-rock will always have that effect on me, and I know its doing the job when I am swept away by the sheer force and clout of the music. "Healing Tree" shows how the group can step back and reflect upon their sensitivity and gentleness with a ballad. That is the splendor and magnitude of any good band, their ability to rock with authority and show the beauty that lies within the music as well.

So it's all here in one tight and firm package awaiting your eager ears to devour. This album is 100% progressive metal at its apex.

Report this review (#11022)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Man have these guy's grown since there 1st CD The Color Temple. Then, essentially a rock band. They took it to the next level on there 2nd CD The God Thing and introduced the progressive element to their sound and song writing and never looked back. Now, 3 Cds later with their latest CD Beyond Daylight, Vanden Plas has taken their song writing to a new level. All the songs on this CD are meticulously arranged and thought out. Vanden Plas is not interested in showing off their musical abilities to the point of personal musical masturbation. Most of the vocals and music is laid out strictly for the songs sake. All of the music was written by S. Lill(gtr) and/or Gunter Werno(keys). All the lyrics are by Andy Kuntz. I must mention the songs Phoenix and the title track Beyond Daylight as being 2 of the most intense and sophisticated Vanden Plas songs to date. Honorable mention must go to drummer Andreas Lill (brother of guitarist Stephen Lill) who really knows how to create drum charts for these songs. If you isolated just the drum tracks, the drums would stand musically sturdy all on their own. He has a way of making his drum patterns very clever but they never ever get in the way of the music. Like the way John Bonham Did, until one really listens to the drums they seem simplistic, but nothing could be further from the truth they just blend incredibly well within the context of the song. Its been 3 years since Beyond Daylight was released so their about due for a new one and I for one cant wait. To me each CD has been better then the previous (as it should be) Also of note, Vanden Plas still has all it's original members. 10 years without a line-up change is a considerable feet, specially a progressive band. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Report this review (#11023)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a good Neo-Prog/Prog Metal album. In many places it's very rich and beautiful sounding. This one also rocks with very pleasant guitar work, solid drums, and nice keyboard. Dream Theater and Kansas, influences abound. Andy Kuntz has a voice similar to LaBrie, a bit more smooth and controlled however. There are some good solos mixed in but not quite as technical as DT can be. I'm still absorbing the story line, but the lyrics seem pretty good, not irritating or silly. The style of the music is pretty standard now, quite a few bands are doing it well, besides DT, there are Symphony X, Angra, Archetype, Pain of Salvation, Savatage, Threshold, and a bit more gothic Evergrey, and others I've heard that make similar music. It's all pretty good to a non-musician prog fan. If you like any of those bands and or a fan of the genre, then this album will probably appeal to you, it doesn't bog down much at all and is quite flowing, melodic, and enjoyable.
Report this review (#11024)
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is UNREAL. I have listened to it about 50 times- it getting old? NOPE. From their previous album "Far off Grace" They have grown so much. There is a much greater prog sound, and the songs are much, much, more memorable. This is prog metal at its best!!
Report this review (#36615)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is good stuff. The bands reminds me of Dream Theater, the similarities are obvious. The vocals are different though, at times similar to newer Threshold albums. There are really stellar moments in some of the songs, but the album as a whole is just not inventive enough for me.

But they're trying really hard, musicianship and production are top notch, so they get 4 stars from me, which really are just 3 1/2 stars. Sorry, but DT did it first! Also, the keyboards are - well - underwhelming. They are buried in the mix, and appear too thin and unimportant compared to the Guitars.

Nightwalker: Solid track, with an amazing "accelerating" riff between verse and chorus.

Cold Wind: Catchy chorus, some hard riffs - and massive Dream Theater references (Metropolis Pt. 1).

Scarlet Flower Fields: The inevitable ballad. It get's quite heavy at times, but it remains a ballad ... nice, but not spectacular.

Healing Tree: One of my favorites, nice track. But it might be too catchy for most prog fans, and has few progressive elements.

End of All Days: This is my favorite track (together with Beyond Daylight), here they do everything the right way.

Free the Fire: One of the heaviest tracks, with various references to Symphony X, Dream Theater and even Queensryche.

Can You Hear Me: Another ballad. Really similar to track 3 ...

Phoenix: This is an interesting track which - to me - sounds really unique.

Beyond Daylight: Very nice ... it's almost an epic.

Point of Know Return: This track reminds me of Ice Age. A nice happy track, a good album closer.

Report this review (#40138)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#42509)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Founded in 1990, Vanden Plas have consistently released one quality album after another. Although well known in Europe and very popular in Germany and France, they remain relatively unknown in North America.

Everything about Beyond Daylight is well done. The lyrics are dark, abstract and maybe a little incomprehensible at times, but the song structures are very well balanced. Every song is performed with great technical skill and with incredible accuracy. Beyond Daylight is a concept album about an oracle named Killroy Murdoch who is capable of influencing and changing the course of history.

The album is a collection of great guitar riffs that never remain at the forefront for extended periods of time, thrilling drum work, wonderful sensitive keyboards, brilliant vocal harmonies all combined and performed with energy for an unforgettable, expressive, melodic, progressive metal experience.

No one instrument is highlighted here, what you get instead are a bunch of modest but very talented musicians who serve the music first, and they do it with style and with professionalism. Yes there are some unexpected and amazing solos, but Stephan Lill is much more discreet than Dream Theater's John Petrucci.

You will be treated to some emotional melancholic ballads with some acoustic guitar moments and some excellent mood creating keyboards. Included are some mid-tempo heavy rock tracks, further complex progressive sections, some full orchestrations and some straight-up double-bass-driven power metal stuff. How Vanden Plas manage to effortlessly move from melodic metal to symphonic metal to power metal without breaking a single stride is a masterstroke of prog metal and a testament to the brilliance of the band!

Every song emphasizes one thing or another:

1. "Nightwalker" - complex, experimental elements, some very cool moments

2. "Cold Wind" - another mid-to-fast paced track, 100% prog metal

3. "Scarlet Flower Fields" - melancholic, melodic, powerful harmonies

4. "Healing Tree" - power ballad, fascinating guitar rhythms, phenomenal solo

5. "End Of All Days" - slow opening but quickly moves into fast-paced progressive-fest territory

6. "Free The Fire" - Best opening I've heard in awhile, some power metal influences

7. "Can You Hear Me" - soft piano ballad

8. "Phoenix" - Piano intro is very familiar, and when the band kick it in, man this song is good...beautiful emotional guitar solo

9. "Beyond Daylight" - Mostly soft but it has a little bit of everything

10. "Point Of Know Return" - bonus track - Cover of Kansas classic, a bonus track is always a bonus! ;)

Concluding Remarks:

Not depressing nor threatening in any way. Listening to this album actually feels comforting as you are filled with a sense of the very familiar. It's not too heavy and not to light, exactly what a progressive metal album should be like - with the exception of the unexplainable lyrics, the only reason why the album gets a 4/5 star rating.

Certainly worth adding to any prog metal aficionados collection!

Report this review (#46043)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The title track Beyond Daylight is awesome.Nice piano phrasing leads into a track which just gets better with each play.The singer is excellent and the band members each contribute equally to make a memorable song which you will enjoy more and more with each listen.At over ten minutes its an epic.It just goes to show you that there are excellent bands out there and great albums waiting to be discovered.The rest of the album is worth the trouble but the title track is worthy of the journey alone.
Report this review (#47089)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It seems that most bands in the prog-metal genre are immediately compared to Dream Theater. If they sound like DT, then there is criticism from certain factions, yet piqued curiousity from other factions. It's amazing to see one band so dominate the discussion of a musical genre, but there you have it. The reason I bring this up is that Vanden Plas does indeed sound very much like Kevin Moore era DT. So much so that you can actually hear bits on this album that make you immediately think of a corresponding DT song. The bits are very brief, a guitar riff here or a drum fill there, or somthing familiar from the keyboards.

However, this is not to say that they are a direct copy of DT. They are not, even if they do sound very familiar. Vanden Plas writes music that does stand on its own very well. I hate ballads with a passion, yet I have to admit that VP does a much better job at them than does DT. I consider Images and Words to be a nearly perfect prog-metal album, except for the first 2 ballads which are so sappy and awful that I've permanent programmed that cd to skip those two tracks. VP makes their ballads a bit more melancholy sounding and less "upbeat". That helps get arid of the sap factor for me.

Another plus for this album is that it is mixed so well. Having an audiophile sound system (VMPS RM40, Classe amps, Krell preamp) really allows me to hear the production quality of recordings. The drums sound great, the guitars are nice and crunchy, and the vocals are etherial and yet powerful. The special edition version of this recording has a bonus track, a cover of Kansas - Point of No Return. However, here the mixing isn't very good as the keyboards are all but drowned out by the guitars. So the familiar keyboard hooks of that classic song are almost missing. However, it is interesting to hear the song done in a heavy metal style, definitely unique.

If you are a Dream Theater fan like I am, then I think you'll really enjoy this disc. It comprises everything you enjoy with the Kevin Moore era with very little extraneous fluff.

Report this review (#64369)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I bought this album I had no information on this band except that they were signed to InsideOut Music so I was expecting at least a half decent band that new their way around their instruments. I wasnt dissapointed.

The albums opening track Nightwalker starts with a very nice sample of a string quartet that flows nicely into the following passage. What really struck me within the first couple of minutes was not just the abilaty of bassist Torsten Reichert but his abilaty to play an incredably flowing lick that backs up the melody briliantly. Its good to say that he keeps at this level throughout the rest of the album as well. Unfortunatly, Stephan Lill (guitars) Gunter Werno (keyboards) and Andreas Lill (drums) dont impress to the same level, but they are all highly capable musicians.

On Beyond Daylight you notice that the band has more than just a passing nod to Dream Theater, and subsequently theres nothing particularly original on here. But dont let that put you off because there are some very nice songs on this album. The stand outs would be the aformentioned Nightwalker, End Of All Days, the title track Beyond Daylight and Phoenix. Phoenx is the only one of these that comes up with a truly unique sound and its this that elavates it above the other five minute songs on here. Beyond Daylight also throughs up an extend keyboard/vocal only section that pushes the narrative along nicely and helps to create an atmosphere of intruige in the song.

Its safe to say that, though the album isnt too original, its the memorable lyrics and licks that get your attention. Andy Kuntz sings with a clear, strong voice and his love for musicalls really comes across in the title track lyricaly as well as the way that he sings (though nowere near as theatrical as Fish or Peter Gabriel).

Overall this is a very enjoyable album that I will give 3.5 stars to (rounded up to 4). Well worth a listen for the beautiful title track alone and for any fans of Prog-Metal, especially in the Dream Theater vein.

Report this review (#77862)
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Aamzing. This my second VP CD the first was Christ O, and I like this one better becuase it is not quite as formulaic and the songs are all unique. So many catchy songs that it's ridiculous, the guitar work is great, the key boards are majestic, the vocals are tight, the drumming is precise, and the bass is jammin. I think they are the most complete band next to Dream Theater, they are strong at every instrument and their compostions are just as strong. I wish I wasn't running short on cash or I would buy every VP disc. BUY THIS CD,IF YOU LIKE MELODIC PROG METAL, TIGHT COMPOSITIONS, SICK SOLOS AND CATCHY LYRICS.
Report this review (#108752)
Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | Review Permalink

This LP is even better than the very good The God Thing. The band sounds tight, the compositions are all solid, catchy and well arranged. I would say this band is mainly a metal act but with several prog elements and an overall proggy flavour compared with any metal band. I can't really recommend any particular song 'cause all of them are great. Andy Kuntz's voice is growing in me more and more, soft and gentle or powerful and darker when needed.

Essential prog metal release.

Report this review (#113972)
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The german band called Vanden Plas demonstrate with this album that is one of the front bands in prog metal today. The album is technical with heavy elements, and is maybe heavyer than previous album Far off grace, here guitars and keys are in fron all the time. From the first piece Night walker, Vanden Plas conquer the prog metal listners, and is one of the fiew bands who has almost an american soud. Highlights are Night walker, Cold wind, and a special one for me Scarlet flower fields. A 4 star album for sure. If you listen to Symphony X, Shadow Gallery, Pagan's Mind, Eldritch, this is the band you have to had in mind.
Report this review (#114843)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the first Vanden Plas album I heard. After the first song I heard, it just blew me away.

I know that the rest of the album tracks would be just as awesome as the first, and after listening to the whole album, I fell in love with Vanden Plas. No doubt, this band is one of the best prog metal groups, both vocally and musically, you can listen to today.

When you listen to the album, you feel sucked into the story, even though you have no idea what's it about. As the tracks play, you feel as if you were in a theater, watching an opera - the singing by Andy Kuntz sweeps you away, and the melting guitar solo's take you to another world.

I could not stop listening to this album for 3 weeks straight, and I'm talking about playing it 2 times a day EVERY day. there's just something so... special, and magical in it.

The way Andy Kuntz sings, is so persuading - maybe because he wrote almost all the lyrics by himself. He and all the other band members sound like they really enjoy what they're doing, and that is very important when creating a prog metal album.

As a closure, I would like to point this album out as the best Vanden Plas album, and a MUST for any prog metal fan with a high quality taste.

4.8/5, only because there is no such thing as the perfect album, or the perfect anything for that purpose - but this album has gotten damn close.

Report this review (#123807)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my first Vandenplas album some 5 years ago. It was a long shot to buy it because I only heard the name before that, no music yet. To say it was an unforgettable experience to hear it for the first time goes too far but I was pleasently surprised you might say.

The album starts with one of the best tracks, Nightwalker. This is a typical Vandenplas song. This band has a very recognizable sound, quite unique in progmetalworld. The songs are usually written by lead singer Andy Kuntz and I think he is a terrific songwriter. By now I know a lot more albums by Vandenplas and the compositions are mostly of very high standard. Vandenplas is one of those bands that are unlikely to produce weak tracks, I think they simply don't allow it. Proof of this is next song Cold Wind that is nothing less than the opener. Ok, maybe the variation and innovation of Vandenplas is not their strongest point but as a great fan of their style I don't really care. Third up is Scarlet Flower Fields, starting like a ballad but after a minute increasing volume gives away that we are yet dealing with another rocker though not really of the roughest sort. Beautiful track this. Healing Tree is a bit like previous, a sort of metal ballad, slightly less impressive but still a very good song proving my statement above. End of all days is another highlight for me, starting like a Metallica song with first notes but after 10 seconds we know we are dealing with Vandenplas no doubt. Variegated track but a terrific rocking song and I can already blab that last (title)track is the third outstanding song which once again shows my preference for longer tracks.

The remaining songs in between, Free the Fire, Can you hear me and especially Phoenix confirm the overall class of this album easily good enough for 4 stars. For even though the 3 best tracks are stunning ones they can't match the 3 superb tracks on Christ0 (see my review there) making the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star album.

Report this review (#158856)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's not necessary to extend any comment about this work, because in my own words "Beyond Daylight" is some steps below in relation to Vanden Plas' previous albums; however, there are catchy and special moments inside the record that can give certain help, saving this review from an unfortunate final score.

Basically, this album is nearer to a melodic metal style and far from rhythm's changes and progressive vision from other times. Nevertheless, the magic appears (only for some passages) and leave to the album free from mediocrity, even I have the sensation that they could make a better work on this opportunity.

Undoubtedly the good melodies are still there, almost nothing has changed in their way to make music but "Beyond Daylight" has disappointed me a little.

Some tracks to take in mind: Scarlet flower fields, Free the fire, Can you hear me, Phoenix.

Final score: 6.5/10.

By: Epsilon.

Report this review (#173250)
Posted Saturday, June 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars This album lacks originality.... However, this is first class prog metal!

But with a heavy Dream Theater influence... Specially the way the Günter Werno's keyboards are similar to the Kevin Moore's ones. And Andy Kuntz tries to make some James LaBrie typical tricks too, specially in the deep tones... The riffs of the songs are also very Petrucci. The general style of the music is maybe a bit more classical, and it's a bit under the 80's influence, but the overall sensation is that this album is way too similar to Dream Theater.

Nevertheless, like I said before, the music inlcuded here has prime quality... The production is just perfect, outstanding. Everything sounds great here! I specially like the interludes of the songs, the instrumental sections. For example, in End of All Days, we have the typical prog metal song, with a good chorus. But suddenly, after the second chorus, an acoustic guitar appears, accompanied by a great keyboard melody... Then some good vocal melodies guide the song to a hard, intrincated and brilliant section. And this kind of breakings (with different schemes...) happens in almost every song! The piano part in the middle of Beyond Daylight, the very Dream Theater but excellent solo in Scarlet Flower Fields... I really love the instrumental sections of this album!

Another important fact is the good mixture this album has between hard and mellow tracks, the slow and speed ones... The dominat key are the middle speed ones, but we have also some metal bullets like the classical Free the Fire, and the Symphony X influenced Phoenix... So this good choice of the tracks mood, together with the homogene quality of almost all of them, makes this album really enjoyable to listen to.

Best Tracks: a really difficult choice... My favourites are maybe Nightwalker, Scarlet Flower Fields (great chorus, and brilliant middle section...), End of All Days (I also love the instrumental interlude...), Can You Hear me (a really catchy ballad...) and Beyond Daylight (maybe the best track of the album...)

Conclusion: if you are a prog metal fan, you'll surely enjoy this album, like I do... But if you're are searching something really new or exciting, you're looking in the wrong direction, because this album lacks some originality. There are no big surprises in the style of this germans... They make great music, but they take no risks. This is the reason I can't say this album should be in every prog music collection.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#179352)
Posted Sunday, August 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars If you want to read a good story check out Man Overboard's review of this album, you'll be glad you did. The band thanks DREAM THEATER, ANGRA, SILENT FORCE and KAMELOT in the liner notes. I love all 5 of VANDEN PLAS' studio albums, but this is my least favourite. Andy Kuntz for me is the star of this band, I love the tone of his voice, but on this album they drift too much into the mellow zone for my liking. And sure Andy sounds great singing ballads, but i'd rather be beaten over the head by a VANDEN PLAS song then be wooed by one.

"Nightwalker" opens with spacey sounds before violin comes in, then a crushing soundscape. Background synths and vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. A nice heavy sound follows. Andy sounds amazing on the chorus. Lots of bottom end 4 minutes in. A mellow ending. "Cold Wind" is another great tune. Piano melodies to open as drums, bass and synths swallow them up quickly. It's speeding up. Awesome sound ! Vocals come in as riffs continue. Again like the previous song the chorus is fantastic. A beautiful guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. "Scarlet Flower Fields" is the first ballad-like track, but by far the best one. Gentle guitar and reserved vocals to open before it starts to build to a full sound. This contrast continues. Andy shines on the chorus. Check out the bass after 3 minutes and the drumming that follows.The best part might be the soaring guitar after 4 minutes.

"Healing Tree" is one song i'm not really a fan of. Good lyrics though in this ballad. I like the instrumental work 3 1/2 minutes in and the guitar solo that follows though. "End Of All Days" opens so gently and then 20 seconds in were hit with an all out assault. A calm with vocals a minute in.The contrast continues. The second half of this song is killer ! Blistering guitar 5 minutes in. Oh my ! "Free The Fire" hits us hard with punishing riffs as the guitar plays over top. Vocals join in, in this uptempo rocker. A great crushing sound after 3 minutes. "Can You Hear Me" is ok, it's another ballad. "Phoenix" opens with uptempo piano, but it gets heavy fast. Another great chorus. Tasteful guitar solo before 4 minutes. "Beyond Daylight" is the almost 11 minute closing track. Piano and fragile vocals early before it kicks into gear before a minute. This is another mellow song for the most part.

Barely 4 stars for me.

Report this review (#184289)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This is prog metal at its very best, nothing more, nothing less. From beginning to end this is the album that Vanden Plas have been threatening since their debut in 1995. Just playing the first song, "Nightwalker", was enough to convince me that I was listening to a winner - everything about it is top quality, from the melodies to the harmony vocals, from the keyboard runs to the riffs to the drumming powering the song from the production to the sheer quality that shines throughout. They have toured with bands like Dokken and Dream Theater in the past and those bands need to keep an eye on what this band is doing.

This is the sort of album that Alan Batkin will rush out and buy with confidence, as it the sort of prog techno rock that the Germans can be very good at and this is certainly better than most. They aren't all about brashness of course, there is piano and sometimes acoustic guitar, but it is when they are combining all of the elements such as during the introduction of "Cold Wind" that sets the scene. There is a power ballad in the beautiful "Healing Tree", and the gentle acoustic guitar at the beginning of "End Of All Days" is literally blistered off the CD by some stunning electric guitar runs.

The band show that they are brimming with confidence as they are not afraid to approach an anthemic rocker like "Free The Fire" or even the bonus song "Point Of Know Return". This is a great album that will be getting some serious airtime in my house.

Originally appeared in Feedback #67, Apr 02

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Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Vanden Plas is one of the more established bands of the European power symphonic prog school, that pays a premium on melody and atmosphere rather than just technicality. Their feature is that combine heavy, loud guitars with softer vocal. I know that doesn't paint a very flattering picture - like a less adventurous Dream Theater - but Vanden Plas know their riffs, intriguing synth lines and melodies. Beyond Daylight is a step up for them in this respect, all while avoiding excessive musical cheese found in their later works. Aside a couple of weaker tracks, this album is loaded with "hits" (well, in a prog sense of the word). They sure know how to set up a song. Check out the playful classical intro to Nigthwalker, mysterious keys at the beginning of Cold Wind an Phoenix, or the dreamy start to End of All Days. Cheerful and fast this music isn't. But what follows is a solid 60 minutes of headbanging, sing-alongs and lighter-lighting moments.
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Posted Thursday, August 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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