Vanden Plas
Colour Temple
01/01/1994
Carrying on from where they left off with “Beyond Daylight”, Vanden Plas are back with “Christ 0” proving themselves to be more courageous and musically inventive than ever before. After carefully listening to the ten new tracks on the band’s latest opus, you can only reach one obvious conclusion that is Germany’s best and most important progressive metal band has achieved a creative peak with their best release to date!

After a seemingly quiet period for the band, which offered many important new inspirations, Vanden Plas have returned with their latest release “Christ 0”, an album which refelects many of the musicians’ experiences over the last four years. After the excellent “Beyond Daylight” in 2002, vocalist Andy Kuntz went off to record his solo album “Abydos” (2004), while the band also involved themselves in numerous theatrical productions, such as “Nostradamus” which was performed in Kaiserslauten and Hof. “Christ 0” shows a regrouped Vanden Plas displaying a distinctively mature side in which they are working more courageously and more varied than ever before. “Of course, ‘Christ 0’ has been influenced by our theater work”, Andy Kuntz likes to admit. “When hearing the new songs you can sense that we are used to working with big orchestras”. Guitarist Stephan Lill, one of the three main songwriters in the band together with Kuntz and keyboardist Günter Werno, adds “We had the courage to do more things this time around. The down tuned guitars are more present, the ballads are more touching, the orchestral arrangements are more thorough, and the compositions are much more vivid”.

The new songs offer a spectacular feat reaching out to the entire universe of contemporary prog metal. The title track gives a good indication for what follows, “The opener immediately shows you what you can expect from the rest of the songs on this album”, Lill explains. “Heavy guitars, polished arrangements, orchestrated sections and catchy melodies. All of which are trademarks of Vanden Plas yet they show no sign of stagnation but moreover a consistent progression of our typical sound”. An excellent example of this is “Wish You Were Here”, and the cleverly orchestrated “January Sun”, a track that features a significant contribution from the 40-piece classical choir of the Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern.

There is also a new side to Vanden Plas apparent on “Christ 0”. Rarely has the band presented themselves so violent and heavy as on “Somewhere Alone in the Dark” or on “Postcard to God”. Modern guitar riffing with powerful drum parts and skilful instrumental passages turn both songs into gripping metal tunes which give the band a dynamic and contemporary sound. In direct contrast to these songs is the deeply moving “Fireroses Dance” with its emotional introduction and Middle Eastern feel. The wonderfully melancholic ballad “Lost In Silence” is reminiscent of the band’s 1997 acoustic album “AcCult” and documents Andy Kuntz’ fantastic vocal performance in a very special way.

Apart from the straight ahead rocker “Shadow I Am” (Lill: “This number could have easily found its place on ‘The God Thing’ or ‘Far Off Grace’”) it’s important to mention the composition “Silently”, which Vanden Plas calls an ‘artistic song’. It captivates the listener at the beginning with its tender and seemingly fragile chorus that develops into a powerfully up beat section. “Christ 0” ends with “Gethsemane” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and inimitably interpreted here. The album was initially based upon the story of the count of Monte Cristo and features new contemporary symbolism which deals with the phenomena of schizophrenia thanks to the personal treatment by Andy Kuntz. Imagine a mixture of the movie classics “Angel Heart” and “Silence of the Lambs” put to music and you will get an idea of the adventurous journey Vanden Plas are taking their audience on with “Christ 0”.

Vanden Plas have produced the new album in colaboration with sound engineer Markus Teske (Saga, Spock´s Beard, Symphony X). The cover artwork is based upon an idea by Andy Kuntz and perfectly symbolises the thrilling psychological pattern of the lyrics from “Christ 0”.