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Vanden Plas - 2002 Beyond Daylight

ARTIST: Vanden Plas
ALBUM: Beyond Daylight
LABEL: Inside Out
YEAR: 2002


LINEUP: Andy Kuntz - vocals * Stephan Lill - guitars * Torsten Reichert - bass * Gunter Werno - keyboards * Andreas Lill - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Nightwalker * 02 Cold Wind * 03 Scarlet Flower Fields * 04 Healing Tree * 05 End Of All Days * 06 Free The Fire * 07 Can You Hear Me * 08 Phoenix * 09 Beyond Daylight * 10 Point Of No Return (bonus track)


I have to be honest, I'd heard Vanden Plas a fair bit in the past, about the time of 'Colour Temple' I think, and they did not make much of an impression on me. Up until recently, apart from Dream Theater's classic 'Images and Words' and a bit of Threshold, I found a lot of this prog-metal stuff a bit hard going and (dare I say) repetitive.. The new offering from Vanden Plas, then, comes as a welcome surprise. 'Beyond Daylight' is possibly the best prog-metal album I have heard in a good long while. In my opinion, it's definitely the best album Vanden Plas have released so far. Produced by Markus Teske, best known for his work with Symphony X, the album has a fantastic, edgy yet polished quality. Overall, it's easier on the ears than most of Dream Theater's output as the vocals aren't so squealy.

The Songs
So, what about the songs? There are definite stand-out tracks here. 'Nightwalker' (which opens this album) has a very strong arrangement, with edgy guitars playing a 'circular' riff and a rock-solid bassline. A welcome feature is a huge chorus, making full use of vocal harmonies. Yeah, it features the usual prog-metal time signatures, so there's no need to panic! 'Scarlet', a slower number - and probably the one that's the most like Dream Theater - features strong verses coupled with another big chorus. It also makes good use of acoustic guitar, which helps to add texture. 'Phoenix', a good, solid piece with double bass drums and chunky guitar riffs, shows the band at their best. When listening to this, it's easy to understand why they are among the leaders in their musical field. Elsewhere, 'Can You Hear Me?' is the almost obligatory 'Silent Lucidity' style ballad - excellent. Unfortunate, then, on the other hand, that 'Free The Fire' is best approached by hitting the skip button on the CD player, as it's that nasty super-charged Malmsteen-esque stuff.

In Summary
When reading this, it's worth keeping in mind that I've never been a great Vanden Plas fan previously - so working on that theory, if I really like this album, chances are, the fans are going to love it. Release date is Jan 28, 2002.

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