VandenPlas – Chirst.0
If there’s one album that I have been much anticipating the last couple of years, it’s Vanden Plas’ new delivery. Four (4!) years after the release of “Beyond Daylight”, which was their fourth studio offer, ‘ze Germans’ are back! With only a solo album by Andy Kuntz – Abydos, released in 2004 – and a couple of guest appearances by the others (Section A, Place Vendome a.o.), progressive metal diehards will feel relief when serving “Christ.0” to their ears. Welcome to prog metal heaven! Contrary to the really big ones in the genre and just like bands as Shadow Gallery and IQ, Vanden Plas have always given higher priority to quality instead of quantity. Any of their previous albums has stood the test of time, from their very melodic hard rock oriented debut “Colour Temple”, originally released in 1995 to the aforementioned “Beyond Daylight”. On “Christ.0”, the band have used the same recipe as they did on its predecessor. It’s all there again, haunting guitar riffs, Kuntz’ solid vocals, intricate keyboard parts, great hooks and huge melodies. As you may know, Vanden Plas’ members, especially Andy Kuntz, have starred in a series of German theatre productions. They initially wanted to make “Christ.0” a double album, consisting of 1 disc with heavy stuff and 1 disc with softer, more theatre oriented song material. Because of budget and time schedule reasons, that couldn’t be done, so they have decided to issue a regular album with songs in their typical style and sound, but written with a theatre production in mind, so that they can easily be adapted. This has resulted in a more orchestral sound, at least more than we’re used to from this band. The magnificently built-up tune “January Sun” for example features the 40-piece classical choir of the Kaiserslautern Pfalztheater. Although there’s a lyrical theme throughout the album for the first time in Vanden Plas’ history – Kuntz made his own interpretation of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count Of Monte Cristo”, musically there’s something for everyone on this disc. The opening title track pretty much shows what you may expect: straightforward songs, at least for VP standards (“Shadow I Am” could have come off their third album “Far Off Grace”), emotional pieces (“Fireroses Dance”, “Lost In Silence”), more complex tunes (“Christ.0”, “Wish You Were Here”, the splendid “Silently”) and very heavy progressive metal (“Postcard To God”, “Somewhere Alone In The Dark”). As a bonus track on the initial pressing, the band have chosen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Gethsemane”, a song which closely relates to their theatre background. To say “Christ.0” is Vanden Plas’ best album to date, would be a bit hasty. What I can say, is that I know less acts who have delivered five superb albums in a row. We’re undoubtedly dealing with Germany’s and one of Europe’s top progressive metal acts here. Don’t miss one of this year’s highlights!