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Germany's Vanden Plas has, until now, been one of those bands from across the sea whose albums have not been available here until now. So when the fourth studio album of the epic and progressive band arrived at Metallian Towers, the serfs were ordered to immediately mount the magic music box unto the music apparatus and begin rotating right away. Vanden Plas is a band which incorporates elements of progressive and pop rock, keyboards, layers and specialize in longer songs. Beyond Daylight, for instance, is over ten minutes long. There are those who believe Blind Guardian spends months in the studio layering and overdubbing its music. These Germans make their compatriots sound naked. There are dubs and overdubs, there are layers and moments when instruments fly in every direction. A couple of more commercial instances are also evident. The vocals on the chorus of Free The Fire (great title) is embarrassingly reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys' It's A Sin. In the long run slightly monotonous, Beyond Daylight is certainly a strong contender for progressive fans or those into more cerebral music a la earlier Dream Theater. Fans in France and Japan have already pushed the band to much success and after half a dozen albums it is time for the band to resign itself to those countries or make a push for itself elsewhere as well.

Wow, isn’t this an impressive progressive rock album? After a long break and several outside projects by the band members the veteran Germans are back with a new concept revolving around the novel, The Count Of Monte Cristo - albeit with a twist.
The album is technically perfect. The band and its superb singer, Andy Kuntz, are in perfect control. It has tonal highs and lows and all in the right places. The virtuosity is implemented with enough balance to make the album seriously palatable to both fans of melody and heaviness on one side and technocrats on the other. The orchestral parts, the instruments, backing vocals, the slow songs and layers all weave into a modern album that nonetheless bears hallmarks of Deep Purple and Rainbow. Interestingly, a couple of leads acoustically resemble the touch of Ritchie Blackmore. Other comparisons would be Dream Theater and label-mates Threshold. Vanden Plas has figured a precise method of creating build-ups within songs that is clearly pleasurable.
It is not that the band offers many surprise on Christ0. Although it is good to know that an album this intelligent can still be had in 2006. As a sole surprise - white lie there - certain versions feature the bonus track, Gethsemane from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. - Ali “The Metallian”


Vanden Plas