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Vanden Plas - Far Off Grace (CD)

Vanden Plas
Far Off Grace
by Amy La Salla at 01 January 2001, 2:32 PM

Vanden Plas is a Progressive Metal band from Germany. Their sound is unique, coming closer to sounding like Awake-era Dream Theater. Every member of the band does his job and all are top-notch musicians. Little did I know when I purchased A Far Off Grace just how strong the impact of their music would be. It was like being hit by a giant's hammer. I have never heard anything quite like this before and at first I couldn't put words to the feeling it gave me at all… only that it was a good one!
This must have been what it felt like to be alive and listening when Queensryche's Rage For Order came out! Gradually I began to notice subtleties to Vanden Plas' music that were washed out by the shock the first few songs inspired. Their catchy melodies subtly creep into your stressed, aching nerves and begin doing their stuff… making you feel happy and inducing the (S)udden (U) controllable (D)esire (T)o (H)eadbang! (And quite possibly to cheer as well!) One of the most distinguishing things about their sound is the keyboardist, Gunter Werno. Keyboardists usually just stay in the background, adding a little here and there but not really distinguishing themselves. This guy, though, really adds something to the music's flavor. Stephen Lill, the guitarist, knows the golden rule of the solo, only put one where it will add to the song. He has slightly more crunch than is usual for a prog. band and a great vibe to his playing!
The singer has a great voice and reminds me a little of James Labrie, only better! The lyrics are outstanding, a lot of work must have gone into writing them. So all you poets out there, do not be afraid to open the lyrics sheet! Your eyes will not be offended, your eyes won't even occasionally think, awww could have been better, your eyes will go Holy smoke these guys are good!.
And now into the song by song lyrical breakdown:
I Can See explains how we are all connected and part of a bigger universe. Musically, this is a vicious, super-catchy introduction to how progressive Vanden Plas is. Two thumbs up!
Far Off Grace is about the longing for a closer bond to God and the search for heaven. The guitar-work in this song rings sweet and soothingly and the keyboard playing is eerie and cool. At first it seems more subtle then the rest of the songs but then it bursts into full blown progressive insanity! I LOVE IT!
Into the Sun is about searching for answers and the dangers involved with that… including how the answers may devour you. The music itself feels mystic, and pulls you into a pool of heart-soothing musical warmth. Into the Sun is another of my favorites from A Far off Grace.
Where is the Man explains that true religion is not found in a preacher's God-Sale, it says that their efforts actually cover up the real thing. Where is the Man also speaks of the painful need for God that corrupt minister's use against us. The music to Where is the Man is very angry and groovey. The notes rain down on you, but you do not feel washed clean. Instead you feel energized and mad. It has a particularly good guitar-solo in it. Where is the Man is another excellent song.
Iodic Rain is about martyrdom, sacrifice (and whether either is right) and resurrection. Musically, Iodic rain is fast, vicious and completely awe inspiring! Iodic Rain is a very headbangable song. It is my favorite on the album.
I Don't Miss You is a love song. In it the main character is trying to convince himself that he is no longer in love with his ex. I do not think he is having much luck, though. The music is soft and heartbreaking. There is an eerie quality to the soft music that I really like.
Inside of Your Head is about someone who wants to understand everyone's pain and past but who also wants to control them and their future. It doesn't sound like Vanden Plas like the idea of that happening anymore than I do. (Wink) The music is even eerie than the previous track. It starts out soft and then hits you with a very heavy, upper mid-tempo song.
Fields of Hope suggests that the tears we cry show and create the future. The main character of Fields of Hope has imagined building a new and better world on the other side, after the tears have fallen. This is either a fantasy or an explanation about how you can turn pain into growth. Either way I LOVE this song! Even heavier than Inside of Your Head, Fields of Hope is very fast with angry, cool guitar-work. It's catchy, awesome chorus pulls you inside the dream word of the song and calms and inspired your aching heart.
I'm In You is about reincarnation and going back to free yourself. The music is sad and soft. It is a very soothing song. I don't often feel songs this soft have much groove to them, but I'm in You is definitely not short of grooviness.
The video of Iodic Rain is live. It has style and the band is extremely charismatic and energetic despite the size of the stage they are on (or the lack of it).
The sweet, ethereal sounds of Vanden Plas will be heard from my cd player for some time to come!
A Far Off Grace is excellent, I give it a 4 out of 5 Temple Blades.

4 Star Rating

I Can See
Farr Off Grace
Into The Sun
Where Is The Man
Iodic Rain
I Don't Miss You
Inside Your Head
Fields Of Hope
I'm In You
Kiss of Death
Shape Of My Heart
Iodic Rain Live Video PC Compatible
Andy Kunts - Vocals
Stephen Lill - Guitars
Gunter Werno - Keyboards
Torsten Reichert - Bass
Andreas Lill - Drums
Record Label: InsideOut Records


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