Formed in 1990, German progressive metal band Vanden Plas combined the creativity of progressive rock with the aggression of metal. Consisting of Stephen Lill on guitars, Torsten Reichert on bass, Andreas Lill on drums, Andy Kuntz on vocals and Günter Werno on keyboards, Vanden Plas issued a great many singles in the '90s -- in that same decade they issued three full-length albums and an EP, all of which became increasingly more adventurous and innovative and helped build their European fan base. Their first full-length album, the self-produced Colour Temple, came out in 1994 and featured a straight-ahead metal style that highlighted Lill's guitar playing. That album would eventually be reissued by two other labels, giving the band more exposure and moderate commercial success. With their next album, the EP AcCult, they went in a completely different direction, making an entirely acoustic album that contained four fascinating covers, including Ray Charles' "Georgia on My Mind," and "Kayleigh" by Marillion. The album was a critical success and gave Vanden Plas the mandate to be even more creative with their next album, 1997's The God Thing. That album ventured off in prog-metal territory, combining LIll's great guitar arcs with heavily orchestrated sections, showing a heavy Dream Theater influence. Continuing in the same tradition was their 1999 release (on Inside Out Music America in the U.S.) Far Off Grace, which was followed in 2000 with a mid-priced live album, Spirit of Live. 2002's Beyond Daylight was next, showing the group growing into a more experimental and technically difficult outfit. ~ Stacia Proefrock
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