German prog-rockers “Vanden Plas” have been flaunting their wares since 1990 and with their latest release titled Far Off Grace the musicians continue to blend crafty melodies with tumultuous crunching guitar licks, tricky time signatures and swirling keys along with Andy Kuntz’ often-emotive vocals. The opener, “I Can See” boasts loud and we’re talking “Black Sabbath” here – crunch chords by guitarist Stephan Lill in support of Andy Kuntz’ wailing vocals while the band does indeed incorporate hefty doses of melody and lyricism. On pieces such as “Far Off Grace” and “Where Is The Man”, the musicians supplement thrashing high-octane choruses with electro-acoustic interludes that provide a fair amount of depth and ingenuity as the band also adheres to a strong constitution in the - compositional form - department. The composition, “Inside Your Head” boasts pounding rhythms, emphatic vocals, shifting meter and keyboardist Gunter Werno’s effective utilization of synths and prismatic backwashes.
In summary, Far Off Grace is an appeasing affair yet one that won’t set the world on fire; however, the band represents much more than your ordinary neo-progressive jam band. That alone might be a worthy attribute since so much rock is premised around needless wankering and bravado, which is fine, but doesn’t compensate for poorly written or ill-conceived compositions yet Vanden Plas effectively pursue the finer elements of progressive rock on this recent release.......
* * * ½ out of (* * * * *)
Andy Kuntz; Vocals: Andreas Lill; Drums: Torsten Reichert; Bass: Stephan Lill; Guitars: Gunter Werno; Keyboards.