We could say of the German Vanden Plas that they are one of those bands of pure heavy metal that since their first album in 1995 have tried and in fact, have achieved, to provide their music with a distinctive touch, with developments where the keyboards mixed with guitar riffs makes them be included in the very numerous family of progressive metal, although still very far from what we could call the parents Dream Theater. And it is that, to my to understanding, prog metal is not very well defined, with a great tendency to place there all heavy groups with keyboards. Groups that from their roots until the highest branch show undiluted heavy metal, a sound based on the 80s metal a la Scorpions for example. Big and overwhelming guitar rhythms mixed with intense melodies. There is no development that takes place as consequence of a progressive thought, there are no progressive platforms in all these groups. Their songs are not born of prog-rock, they are limited to adorn their compositions with beautiful and correct moments of symphonic air, providing their music with a higher level of credibility.
And it is this what these guys play, recreating a melodic heavy metal mixing moments of prominent keyboards, and of course, making boast of a muscular and potent sound. The career of the Germans begins, as I commented you, in 1995 with "Color Temple", so a live album was already expected, also keeping in mind the relative success the band enjoys not only for heavy fans but also for the more moderate progs. We receive in this way this selection of compositions captured in one of the performances of the band in France, titled "Spirit of live".
The CD begins with the potent "I can see" (4:26) belonging to their last album "Far off grace", with overwhelming guitar and rhythms. The sound is worth highlighting, even and moderate without losing power, mainly on the part of the vocals. "Into the sun" (7:05) follows the line of the previous one introducing moments of keyboards emulating in many moments to Dream Theater. "Soul survives" (9:52) is an extensive piece of variable rhythms and atmospheres, with the common element that is the metallic and melodic guitar. It is a piece with moments of Rush, with an overwhelming rhythm section. "How many tears" (10:37) is a song at half-tempo, where the band shows its melodic character, coming closer to the sound of the Scorpions or of UFO "Don't miss you" (3:50) still lowers more the rhythm in a ballad of soft keyboards and little interpretative brightness by the singer. "Journey to Paris" (3:08) is kind of a presentation of the keyboards, a short synthesizer exercise that we have already listened in other many groups fond of this sound. "Spirit of live" (4:28) and "Lodic rain" (6:11) are more powerful with strong guitar assaults, in melodies of great intensity and where the keyboards seem to be 100 kilometers away, entering in small holes and always developing the same patterns. "Far off grace" (5:28) is a quite bearable piece with moments of force and others of very melodic tone and where the singer takes advantage to appease the audience by singing in French. "Kiss of death feat" (5:28) and "Rainmaker feat" (8:38) close the album proving, to those that have not still appreciated it, the power and the spectacularly of this heavy metal with progressive ingredients.
Vanden Plas is a band that doesnt surprise and the contribution to the progressive scene is practically negligible. But it is an entertainment band for people linked to metal with personality. It is a band that I find that give more in direct than in study and it is completely true that the best in this album is the very good production that has given it a spectacular sound, polishing any impurity.