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FAR Off GrAce

Track Listing
1. "I Can See" - 4:01
2. "Far Off Grace" - 7:03
3. "Into the Sun" - 6:32
4. "Where is the Man" - 6:10
5. "Iodic Rain" - 6:13
6. "I Don't Miss You" - 3:51
7. "Inside of Your Head" - 6:54
8. "Fields of Hope" - 6:46
9. "I'm in You" - 6:43
10. "Kiss of Death" - 5:41

Inside Out 1999

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More Releases by Vanden Plas:
Colour Temple (1995)
The God Thing (1997)
Beyond Daylight (2002)
Related Releases (in sound):


In 1997 Vanden Plas released The God Thing, their third album, which was a welcome slice of melodic, semi-progressive metal that combined Dream Theater and Dokken influences. The combination worked as The God Thing was an excellent album full of catchy vocal melodies and superb musicianship. Vanden Plas also knew enough to focus on the songs first, technique second. Every song on The God Thing was good and it was a natural progression from their first album, Colour Temple. Colour Temple is a good melodic metal album but The God Thing expanded upon that album adding more depth and intricacy to the music. So where would Vanden Plas go next? What would be their evolutionary next step? When I finally received a copy of The God Thing's follow up, Far Off Grace, I was quick to put it into my CD player and let those fabulous Vanden Plas melodies and musical depth hit me hard. But that isn't exactly what happened.


1. "I Can See"
Though this song packs plenty of crunch and excellent musicianship, the over aggressiveness of the vocal and vocal melodies never quite worked for me. It isn't a bad song by any stretch and I listen to it from time to time and I do get some enjoyment out of it, but overall, this isn't one of the band's best songs in my opinion.

2. "Far Off Grace"
Track two slows things down as Vanden Plas flexes their ballad muscles. A lot of bands annoy me with their ballads, but like Dokken, Vanden Plas writes a good ballad and this one is no exception. It even gets heavy from time to time. Vocalist Andy Kuntz's power as a singer is felt here. Kuntz is unlike any other vocalist in progressive/power metal today. He has a natural higher range but he isn't limited, either. Kuntz's abilities make this song work.

3. "Into the Sun"
More heavy crunch from the band as keyboardist Gunter Werno provides some very atmospheric keys reminding me a lot of former Dream Theater keyboardists Kevin Moore and Derek Sherinian. The wonderful keys and heavy guitar drive this song throughout. Good song that brings both Dream Theater and Dokken to mind--one of the best songs on the disc!

4. "Where is the Man"
Even more crunch, more excellent keyboards and Kuntz shows his range as a vocalist. He sings in a lower range in much of the song and it works. Guitarist Stephen Lill plays an awesome guitar solo towards the end of the song that brings to mind former Dokken axeman George Lynch. In fact, Lill comes off as a cross between Lynch and Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci with just a bit of Eddie Van Halen thrown in. Good song.

5. "Iodic Rain"
This is another powerful rocker in the same vein as "Where is the Man" and "Into the Sun". Guitarist Lill drives this song as more crunch and engaging solos are heard. Another good song but, like most of the tunes on Far Off Grace, the vocal melodies aren't as dynamic and beautiful as they were on The God Thing. Maybe I shouldn't be comparing the two albums so much because Vanden Plas evolves and changes from album to album, but I do think catchier vocal melodies would've made this a better CD.

6. "I Don't Miss You"
Track six is a true ballad as Kuntz's vocals are only accompanied by Werno's keys and what sounds like a viola or cello (the liner notes left this a mystery). Excellent song that showcases Vanden Plas' strength and versatility as songwriters. The lyrics are powerful as Kuntz cries "I don't miss you...I don't even love...I want you to die in my arms." The dichotomy between the anger and love felt after a bad break-up is heart-wrenching. This is moving song, one of the most moving songs I've ever heard.

7. "Inside of Your Head"
A quiet and ominous guitar greets us as the song opens. It builds and builds until the entire fury of the band explodes. "Inside of Your Head" drives and crunches along. The vocal melodies rank among the best on Far Off Grace. Of all the songs on this album, this one reminds me the most of The God Thing. Superb song!

8. "Fields of Hope"
Very much in a Dream Theater vein, track eight sports the band's instrumental prowess. Like many of the songs on this disc, Vanden Plas mixes technique with strong song writing. Especially noteworthy is the awesome chorus that is pure melodic fun. Bassist Torsten Reichert and drummer Andreas Lill get a chance to shine as a solid rhythm section. Not that they weren't good before, but this song really showcases their talent.

9. "I'm in You"
This track starts off slow enough with a moving combination of keys and vocals. Reichert's bass line is really engaging here and it carries the song throughout. This is a good ballad.

10. "Kiss of Death"
As if there was ever any doubt, Vanden Plas assures the listeners that the band are indeed fans and followers of Dokken. In this cover of the Dokken classic, Vanden Plas gets everything right. The fast pace and excellent guitar work all give tribute to Dokken without ruining a great song. In fact, Vanden Plas' performance here make their version of "The Kiss of Death" as good as the original. Strong words, I know, but the boys from Germany do this cover perfectly. They are able to pay homage to Dokken without copying them.


Comparable bands might be the aforementioned Dream Theater and Dokken. I'd also compare Vanden Plas to Conception, a progressive metal band that, although no longer together, wrote songs in a similar fashion. Though Far Off Grace didn't have an immediate impact on me like The God Thing did, after carefully listening to this disk over and over, I've come to like it a lot. I still like The God Thing more, but Far Off Grace is a worthy addition to my CD collection.


The Best: The song "I Don't Miss You". Very moving.
The Worst: Catchier vocal melodies would have made the CD better.
The Weird: Nothing weird about this CD.
The Rest: Vanden Plas always releases solid material.

Review by Joesph White-

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