By Bob Nalbandian

Beyond The Daylight

Germany's Vanden Plas return with yet another masterful progressive-metal outing. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of prog-metal, as most sound lifeless and sterile, but Vanden Plas have that certain energetic drive and emotion that easily sets them apart from the prog-pack. The disc features outstanding vocal work from American-born singer Andy Kuntz backed by sleek production and superb musicianship.

Standout tracks include the opener; "Nightwalker," "Cold Wind," and "Free The Fire," which features incredible riffs throughout the chorus. Tight vocal harmonies and intricate melodies encompass this CD, which will certainly appease the metallic, the melodic, and the mainstream-minded hard rock fan. Vanden Plas is a class act!

Remedy Lane

Combining the conceptual complexities of Queensryche, the progressive pretentiousness of Dream Theater, the sophisticated fusion of UK, and the tranquility of Pink Floyd - there's no doubt that Pain of Salvation are world-class musicians! Melodic, moody, happy, dark, dramatic, mysterious...all words that can describe the emotional surrounding displayed on Remedy Lane. Brilliant drum-work throughout the disc, particularly on the tracks "Fandango," which features some mind-blowing time changes, and "Rope Ends" (check out that ultra-complex, ultra-bizarre shuffle beat!). "Beyond the Pale" is yet another highlight, showcasing an exotic middle-eastern melody that transcends the listener before emerging into an avant-garde middle break in which vocalist Daniel Gildenlow bursts into this rant-rhyming rhythm akin to Mike Patton (FNM/Mr. Bungle.) Intensely bizarre, yet well executed!

But like most prog-rock/metal records, "Remedy Lane" does have its share of flaws, sounding mundane at times. But if intricate musicianship is your calling, Pain of Salvation has a journey paved just for you.

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