Released: 2002, Insideout Music America
Hobbits, Hobbits and more Hobbits!!!!! Hobbits to the left of me and Hobbits to the right of me, Hobbits in front of me!!!!!! Whoa!! It seems that every ones favourite topic for album themes is The Lord of the Rings. Well, Vanden Plas do NOT have any songs on this disc about the Grey Wizard or trolls or hobbits or orcs or any of the other lovely creatures of Middle Earth. This is the first offering from Vanden Plas since their SPIRIT OF LIVE release in 2000 and FAR OFF GRACE, their last studio disc way back in 1999. The lineup remains the same as their live disc: Torsten Reichert (bass), Andreas Lill (drums), Andy Kuntz (vocals), Stephan Lill (guitar), and Gunter Werno (keyboards).
I don’t know what it is about Vanden Plas but from the first time I heard them they have become one of my favourite progressive metal bands. I guess that the key is that they keep the "metal" in "progressive metal." “Nightwalker” opens the CD with an emotional vocal performance from Kuntz. Not to be outdone, Stephan Lil rips through the song with playing that is both tasteful and majestic. The band shows it melodic side with “Scarlet Flower Fields.” Definitely one of the highlights of the release, it delves into melancholy territory as its roller coaster of sound highlights both the individual chops of the band members but more importantly their dedication to the songs. The band shows lots of flash but never lets it overshadow the strength of the song. Vanden Plas delve into powermetal territory with “Free the Fire.” A great melodic metal romp with lots of double bass drumming from Andreas Lil. The disc closes with the 10 minute long title track. This song has a little bit of everything including power and emotion backed up by excellent musicianship.
Ever since hearing Vanden Plas cover the classic Dokken track “Kiss of Death” I have been keeping a close eye on them. After delving deeper into the band's history I found out that most of their influences are from 80s metal, and run the gamut from Journey to Iron Maiden. The ability to take these influences and to twist them all up and come out with some of the best prog metal on the scene today has always fascinated me. BEYOND DAYLIGHT is the perfect blend of musicianship and great song writing and is everything that most progressive metal bands strive to create. With a little luck this could be a break out CD for the band and as it stands is one of the best prog metal CDs I have heard in quite awhile. http://www.vandenplas.de