Tag Archives: vanden plas

ProgPower USA XVIII Day Two Musings (9/7/2017)

Contributor Steven Stolper was on point enjoying the findings at the annual ProgPower USA Festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Center Stage Atlanta theater. Historically speaking, PiercingMetal has NEVER been to the event but we’ve occasionally had interest in going based on the lineup for the year. I asked for a quick briefing of the acts that he saw and here are his transmissions to the High Command from the field about Day Two.

ProgPowerUSA XVIII Day 2: Sadly, I was a tad bit hungover from the previous day’s festivities which would cause me to miss the first band of the day – Next to None. This is the band that features the son of Mike Portnoy on drums so perhaps another time. That said, there was still plenty more music to see and hear over the course of the day so onward we march.

Twilight Force (Sweden):
This was the perfect way to start the night. Light happy fairy tale themed power metal with tales of dungeons, dragons, elves, and other creatures set to galloping Helloween style tunes. Hands were held high and choruses repeated. (Plastic) swords were unsheathed and brandished. Smiles all around. Band performed a very competent set of jolly songs, slaying the dragons of self-doubt and banishing negative emotions to distant realms, and all was right in the world.

Vanden Plas (Germany):
Back to the prog portion of the event. This veteran German band plays very smooth Dream Theater style melodic prog metal. Great dramatic singing. I seem to recall the singer also does musical theater productions back in Germany. Sounds about right. Songs are not super technical though there is a good amount of keyboards. Fans of recent Fates Warning albums would definitely appreciate Vanden Plas. This is an exclusive US appearance for Vanden Plas . I believe the only other time they performed here was at an earlier ProgPower some years ago. This is what this festival is truly about – bringing over groups who would otherwise remain unseen by the North American audiences.
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PiercingMetal’s “Best Of 2006”: The Music

Another exciting year in Metal music has gone by and as a member of the music press, I’m tasked with not only doing reviews here on the website but also in lining out what releases that I felt were the years very best. Initially, this post was going to feature the whole gamut of the years in terms of the music, the videos and the concerts but when my album list went on and on and on I decided to give it a post of its own to go easier on you. Let’s go.

The Best Albums Of 2006

Mercenary “The Hours That Remain” (Century Media Records): A great follow up to “11 Dreams”, this band shows that they are taking chances in Metal.

Mastodon “Blood Mountain” (Warner Brothers): Jazz Fusion Metal? I dunno, but the new Mastodon sure kicks your ass around the block.

Amorphis “Eclipse” (Nuclear Blast Records): Finnish boys return and do more good. Lots of feels on this one.

Scar Symmetry “Pitch Black Effects” (Nuclear Blast Records): Raging guitar solos, soaring clean vocals, brutal death metal growls-brilliant!

Lamb of God “Sacrament” (Epic Records): Their best yet. Future legends. The first four songs are instant classics and if you don’t find your fist in the air for this release you don’t have one. Go watch American Idol

Iron Maiden “A Matter of Life and Death” (EMI Music): Up the Irons, pure and simple. Some bad press from some people who don’t see the return to form. They are idiots.

I “Between Two Worlds” (Nuclear Blast Records): Great project from members of Immortal, Enslaved, and Gorgoroth.

Enslaved “RUUN” (Candlelight Records): The Black Metal titans get even more progressive and this is an incredible listen from start to finish

Satyricon “Now, Diabolical” (Century Media Records): More Metal needs to be like this. A resounding effort that lays waste to that which tries to come close.

Vanden Plas “Christ O” (InsideOut Music): Stunning operatic progressive metal. Their best yet! Especially the bonus track
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“Christ 0” by Vanden Plas

Artist: Vanden Plas
Title: “Christ 0”
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 4/25/2006
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

It’s been four years since Vanden Plas released “Beyond Daylight” and for many fans of the Progressive Metal the new album would be a welcome return of a very excellent and powerful band. As I listened to the album, I wondered how this group escaped my notice before as they offer a lot of what fans of Melodic and Progressive Metal are looking for. The band takes a strong queue from Dream Theater as far as the ability to craft both powerful melody and metallic technique together, but their music doesn’t take you into wild technical displays and that keeps them unique from Portnoy and company. The album takes you on a journey into a tale that is based on the Alexander Dumas “Count Of Monte Cristo” tale; however this story is a little bit darker and does not find the Count the hero that the classic tale does. As a matter of fact he is a villain and while still a character to be pitied he is getting that which is rightly served for such action. The album displays an excellent array of Progressive Metal riffs and melodies that bring you right into the recording and lead singer Andy Kuntz is simply amazing across the whole thing. The main reason for the absence in Vanden Plas recordings was due to the singer working in theatre and his side-project Abydos. The theatre experience clearly shows in the album as far as the dramatic peaks and valleys it explores as Kuntz delivers passionate vocals in every song. Crunching Metal fans need not fear that the stage experience has softened his delivery of the bands music and can confirm this on songs like “Somewhere Alone In The Dark” and “Silently”. The band also explores some levels of mood and atmosphere, as a dark and foreboding storyline will definitely put you in that place. A great example of this can be found in “Lost In Silence” and their inclusion offers the chance for a wider variety of listener to now enjoy the band. The closer of the album came as a complete and yet wonderful surprise as the band delivers the song “Gethsemane” (I Only Want To Say); the song which was originally sung by Ian Gillan in the Broadway play “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a powerful tune and delivered to excellence. This is only available on the special edition of the CD if I am not mistaken.
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