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Vanden Plas - Colour Temple / AcCult CD (album) cover


Vanden Plas

Progressive Metal

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5 stars VANDEN PLAS' sensational debut album, 1994's "Colour Temple," instantly established them at the vanguard of melodic, progressive hard rock. With tight performances, soaring vocals, and rich, mature arrangements, their soundscapes were clearly in a league with DREAM THEATER and other genre leaders. The most compelling, distinctive element of VANDEN PLAS, however, was the quality of their compositions. Instead of basing their sound on expansive neo-classicism or artsy, edgy prog/power-metal, VP clearly nods to streamlined, song-oriented influences: QUEENSRYCHE (the moody "When The Wind Blows"); WHITESNAKE (check out the menacing riffage of "Push"); and DREAM THEATER (the sophisticated, 9-minute neo-prog-metal "Soul Survives"). The results are electrifying.

The biggest killers on the disc include the richly textured post-'80s hard rock of "Father," the intense, hard neo-prog of "My Crying," and the unforgettable, wistful classic "How Many Tears." For melody-oriented listeners, there are no weak songs; VANDEN PLAS excels at both soul-stirring balladry and intense heavy rock. Even the bonus track "Days Of Thunder" is a superb slice of hard-riffing melodic rock.

You want more? You got it: This deluxe reissue also comes packaged with a second CD, VANDEN PLAS' 1996 "AcCult" album. That largely acoustic set is further evidence of the band's remarkable compositional prowess, demonstrating how well their tunes translate into a non-metallic setting. It also removes all doubts about their sophistication, versatility, and emotional potency, with soulful takes on highlights from "Colour Temple" and diverse covers like MARILLION's "Kayleigh" and the standard "Georgia On My Mind." As on "Colour Temple," there are no weak tracks.

Overall, this deluxe "Colour Temple" reissue is too mainstream-feeling for hardcore fans of artsier prog, but it is consistently memorable and energized, with brilliant compositions and rich emotional resonances that few other bands could even approach. No, VANDEN PLAS had not yet fully developed the majestic articulation of drama and power that would eventually elevate them to the loftiest ranks of prog/pomp-metal, but even at this first stage in their development, they were far ahead of their peers. For listeners who appreciate music at the overlap of melodic prog-metal and hard pomp, this consistently brilliant reissue is a nearly essential look back at the band's early vibrance. Songs this strong should not be overlooked.

Report this review (#11153)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Vanden Plas is a melodic metal-progressive-rock group from Germany featuring a strong front man by name of Andy Kunz. He sounds like a foreign Bon Jovi, although his accent clearly separates him from the New Jersey rocker. Gunter Werno (keyboards, background vocals), Torsten Reichert (bass), and Andreas Lill (drums), are the other members of this powerfully gifted and technically exact unit. Colour Temple/AcCult is a rather remarkable two CD set. There are several reasons why; you get two versions of some songs, one CD is electric and the other unplugged, and you will also hear previously unreleased material.

I listened to the bonus disc first. The acoustic material is absolutely phenomenal. There are lots of lush and beautiful guitars accompanied by exquisite vocals. Everything about the way the band jells in each song gives their sound an entirely different landscape and mood in comparison to the rocking metal you are accustomed to hearing from them. And the electric versions of the songs from the original album are highly forceful and energetic; I really enjoyed each track immensely as well. This is a beyond your wildest dreams Vanden Plas recording. You get the very best of both worlds to compare and contrasts. The best part about it for me was that I happened to love every second of it on each disc. I can appreciate the beauty and gentleness of the music, and by the same token can connect with the energy and emotion of the hard driving rockers. It's all here for you, both sides of progressive rock. Musical nirvana awaits your beckoned call. Get this special edition release, its one that you will be very happy you decided to get; you have my word of honor as a prog freak.

Report this review (#11154)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink

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