Released: 2000, InsideOut Music America
This definitely has to be my month for progressive metal. So far I have reviewed the new Threshold CD HYPOTHETICAL and along with a few more in my stack I have the latest Vanden Plas CD sitting here in front of me. Vanden Plas are one of those bands that I have heard a lot of great things about and have even listened to their CDs but for some reason never got around to getting any for myself. My loss. I have been spinning this disc a fair bit and I have got to say that it’s not only a great LIVE release but also a great disc overall. The production is top notch and except for the crowd in between songs you would never know that it was a live CD, the material is played so flawlessly and the band is so tight. Vanden Plas are from Germany and came together 10 years ago to play "expressive music with a spiritual and emotional meaning whilst maintaining a melodic heavy rock sound." Sounds like they have achieved their goal. The lineup of Vanden Plas consists of Torsten Reichert: bass, Andreas Lill: drums, Andy Kuntz: vocals, Stephan Lill: guitar, Gunter Werno: keyboards.
SPIRIT OF LIVE opens with "I Can See" which is also the lead of track from their 1999 release FAR OFF GRACE. This is a killer track and Kuntz wastes no time in stretching his vocal chords. "Soul Survives" kicks off with a piano intro then builds to a high point where the guitars of Lill mesh effortlessly with the keys of Werno. Up next is the ballad "How Many Tears". In the middle of this 10 minute song the crowd takes over the vocal duties. Its very cool to hear a large group of people singing every word. Gives me faith in metal!! The disc closes out with 2 of my favourite VP songs. First up is the title track from their last CD "Far Off Grace". Again this 9 plus minute track twists and turns its way through ups and downs, including the highlighted vocals of Kuntz, before finishing out with some heavy riffs. Finally to finish off the disc with Rainmaker which features the lead guitar of Patrik Rondat of Elegy. This is one of the heavier songs on the disc and at , like almost everything else on this release, clocks in at 8 and a half minutes. Rondat shows his stuff with some great guitar acrobatics that make this song a fitting closer for a great CD.
What can I say about this CD? The only thing missing is a live version of Dokken’s "Kiss of Death" which was on their 1999 CD FAR OFF GRACE. Luckily this song is on the European version of this release. Vanden Plas create some of the best progressive metal being played today and this Live CD is a great showcase of their music. http://faroffgrace.com