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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Vanden Plas

Far Off Grace

Review by Gary Hill

Although this band is heavily influenced by Dream Theater, they are definitely not a clone, as they do have their own sound. The similarities are strong enough, however, to make Vanden Plas an obvious choice for fans of DT. The album is a powerful prog piece that leans strongly toward the metal influences while not being overpowered by them. Vanden Plas is Torsten Reichert, Andreas Lill, Andy Kuntz, Stephan Lill and Gunter Werno.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Can See
Hard edged, progish and fast, this one really feels a lot like Dream Theater.
Far Off Grace
The first section of this one is acoustic guitar driven melodic rock. It becomes very prog oriented with a lush arrangement and quirky changes. Metallic elements emerge, but all in a strong prog arrangement. It drops back down to the earlier acoustic dominated section, and then jumps back up. This one again is quite reminiscent of DT. A very prog oriented piano-dominated instrumental break leads to a powerful piano and vocal verse. It then jumps back into the harder edged segment from before.
Into The Sun
Progish, almost Hawkwindesque keys lead to a segment that is very much in a thrash mode. After this, keyboards layer on top, adding prog textures. When the song goes down to the verse, the powerful DT modes again appear. This is a strong hard edged prog cut that features a great instrumental break with an inspiring arrangement. This extended jam really rocks. After more vocal segments, another prog instrumental break takes the song to its conclusion.
Where Is the Man?
Great quirky hard-edged prog starts this one off. It has some intriguing timing in places and strong emotional vocals. This is a very evocative and powerful tune.
Iodic Rain
An awesome percussion and rhythmic attack starts off this metallic prog number. It is another song that feels a lot like Dream Theater. A killer track, this one has lots of varying prog modes and a very quirky and fast paced instrumental break that features some striking keyboard work. This is one of the better cuts on the CD.
I Don't Miss You
"I Don't Miss You" is a pretty and emotional prog ballad.
Inside of Your Head
More hard-edged prog in a DT vein, this one contains a mellower segment that continues the prog themes. The number then moves back to the harder edged, crunchy guitar that really rocks. This leads to a wonderful keyboard solo that takes the song to its outro. This one is definitely another standout.
Fields of Hope
A psychedelic sounding intro leads to frantic metallic prog. It has both slower and faster segments, and, again, feels quite a bit like Dream Theater. This one drops to a percussion solo segment then starts building back up from there.
I'm In You
Pretty prog keys start this cut, then the song builds very gradually. It is quite pretty and emotional during this building. It starts adding, both in terms of instruments and power, gradually evolving the melody and patterns of the earlier portions of the composition. Another strong number (arguably the best one on the disc), this one keeps growing and building. It ends with classically oriented keyboards.
Kiss of Death
This cut is hard-edged progish metal.
 
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