"The Ghost Xperiment - Illumination" (Frontiers Music SRL; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Vanden Plas are one of those bands that keep delivering exactly what their fan base wants: progressive metal with exquisite production, astonishing musicianship and albums that tell stories, albums that aren't just a collection of songs. (For example, "Illumination" is the second in the band's "The Ghost Xperiment" series).

"The Ghost Xperiment - Illumination" is another example of the band's ability to give their fans just what they want. It's a rich, complex, album, full of lengthy tunes (the shortest runs 4:28 while the longest runs just over 13 minutes). The vocals are soaring and strong, the guitar solos sparkling and well-placed, and the drums, keyboards and synths just fill up the sound to the very top.

If there's any complaint here, it's that the music often tends to sounds the same, with one track sounding very close to another, but it's all the Vanden Plas sound, so that makes sense. The bottom line is that, if you're a Vanden Plas fan, I think "The Ghost Xperiment - Illumination" will be to your liking. If you're new to the band, this will give you a good idea as to their sound and perhaps lead you into looking into their history.

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"Christ O" (Inside Out Music America; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

German prog metal quintet Vanden Plas ambitiously tackles the classic "The Count of Monte Cristo" on the nine-track "Christ O." This veteran outfit's latest endeavor explodes with keyboard and guitar duels, passionate vocals, and a metallic bite that accelerates Vanden Plas's spot in the prog metal hierarchy. 

Tracks like "January Sun" are as epic as it gets, clocking in at over nine minutes and fully loaded with choir background vocals, rumbling rhythms, and dramatic changes of pace that rival any well-done Broadway musical, while "Wish You Were Here" excels with a dynamic sense of orchestration that thankfully never gets irritating as some prog metal tends to (more often than not).

"Christ O" will not disappoint fans of atmospheric metal who crave a strong narrative and are floored by remarkable songwriting prowess. 

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"Beyond Daylight" (Inside Out Music America; 2002)

Reviewed by Rose Grech

After being together for over a decade, Vanden Plas, a German progressive-metal theatre band, has produced a new album entitled "Beyond Daylight." It contains nine new prog-metal tracks which stand out with harmonies, melodies, various instrumental passages and thought-out arrangements, and a powerful rock ballad. 

At first, the vocals sound similar to James Hetfield of Metallica, which is probably unintentional. But then unexpectedly, the music grows slower, mellower with long, whining vocals. Most of the songs contain the same musical elements; rhythmic, fast-pounding drums, multiple vocals overlapping during the choruses, with an orchestra-sound atmosphere and long numerous solos. 

An interesting new development is the continuous theme that runs through the material. Song following song, lyric following lyric, the album straight through is connected through the words. 

Vanden Plas is a dream band for those who crave such instrumental beauty in their music. They know what they are doing and do it well, however at times the songs just seem a bit too long. 

But if you never had an interest in the rock ballad, you probably still won't after you hear this. I guess you never know till you try. 

For more info check out that their website at  

"Far Off Grace" (Inside Out Music America; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Vanden Plas are Germany's Dream Theater; so much so that I think that maybe the sheep cloning experiments that have been so successful in Britain have now been expanded to include rock bands. Well, I should be fair; perhaps there's a bit more hard rock and heavy metal here than just progressive music a la Dream Theater, but I think you get the idea. 

With no line-up changes since 1990 Vanden Plas is as tight as a band can get without relying too heavily on their technical skills alone. By focusing on songs and melodies (much like Brazilian prog-metal heroes Angra) Vanden Plas have created a solid disc with "Far Off Grace" that should appeal to hard rock, power metal, and progressive metal camps with equal attraction. 

The vocals are reminiscent of "Awake"-era Dream Theater; this is the most immediately striking thing that makes comparisons to Dream Theater inevitable. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing; Vanden Plas are careful enough to make the vocals are part of the song's storytelling. 

The music is solid. Vanden Plas do wander and play extended musical bits, but no where near as often as Dream Theater. The guitar sound is very crisp and the machine-gun drumming throughout "Far Off Grace" makes for a lethal combination. Acoustic guitar is also used extensively along with keyboards that are programmed to sound like a piano gives "Far Off Grace" a warm, almost wholesome sound.  

There are nine original songs here ranging from ballads to mid-tempo rockers to balls-out metal; "Far Off Grace" offers decent diversity without straying too far from the Vanden Plas sound. Dokken's "Kiss Of Death" is covered here and deserves a mention not because it's surprising that a German band would cover a Dokken tune, but rather because it is surprising to see a progressive band choose Dokken to cover in the first place. The cover of "Kiss Of Death" reciprocates the love that Germany gave Dokken way back in the '80s. A greater emphasis on technical drumming gives this track a solid kick in the ass.  

"Far Off Grace" was produced by Vanden Plas. The production is superb and each track has its own character and captivating mood. The guitars, bass, and keyboards are well balanced in the mix. 

Vanden Plas are Andy Kuntz on vocals, Stephan Lil on guitars, Torsten Reichert on bass, Gunter Werno on keyboards, and Adreas Lil on drums. 

For more information visit

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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