Published on August 27th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Vanden Plas: The Epic Works 1991-2015 (Frontiers, 2019)
The Frontiers label is on a box set streak this year, with epic releases by Pretty Maids, Ten and Harem Scarem breathing new life into old catalogs. German melodic progressive metal band Vanden Plas is the latest to get the lavish box set treatment. Titled The Epic Works 1991-2015, this deluxe 11-disc box set includes all nine of Vanden Plas’s studio albums, their first live release and a bonus disc full of interesting bonus tracks.
Let’s break down what you do (and don’t) get in The Epic Works 1991-2015. Unlike the recent Pretty Maids box set (the mandatory Blast From The Past), each Vanden Plas album is presented here without any bonus material. The bonus tracks have all been moved to the final disc. Here’s what we get:
Disc 1: Colour Temple
Disc 2: Accult – Vanden Plas’s brilliant (and still underrated) 1996 acoustic album is included here in its entirety, including the acoustic version of “Days Of Thunder.”
Disc 3: The God Thing – This is the first album where a bonus track – the live version of “You Fly” from the 2004 reissue – is not included on the Bonus Treasures disc.
Disc 4: Far Off Grace
Disc 5: Spirit Of Live
Disc 6: Beyond Daylight
Disc 7: Christ 0
Disc 8: The Seraphic Clockwork – The bonus track “Eleyson” was moved to the Bonus Treasures disc, but the Japanese exclusive track “Healing Tree” is absent from the set, which is frustrating.
Disc 9: Chronicles Of The Immortals – Netherworld (Path One)
Disc 10: Chronicles Of The Immortals – Netherworld II
Disc 11: Bonus Treasures 1991-2015 – This is a big part of this set’s appeal, especially if you already owned the individual albums. Here’s what it contains:
- Kiss Of Death – Yes, it’s a Dokken cover and yes it’s amazing. This was the bonus track on Far Off Grace.
- Point Of Know Return – This great Kansas cover originally appeared on the digibook edition of Beyond Daylight.
- Gethsemane – Their version of the Jesus Christ Superstar staple originally appeared as a bonus track on the Christ 0 album.
- Shape Of My Heart – Leave it to Vanden Plas to make a Sting song not suck. This cover appeared on the 2004 reissue of Far Off Grace.
- Combien De Larmes (How Many Tears – French Version) – This was a bonus track from the 2004 reissue of The God Thing.
- Raining In My Heart – This originally appeared on the 1998 reissue of Accult (and the 2001 reissue of Colour Temple).
- Godmaker (Acoustic Radio Version)
- Days Of Thunder – This was originally included on the Japanese pressing (and 1998/2001 reissues) of Colour Temple. But first appeared on the 1992 Fire single.
- Fire – This first appeared on the 1992 Fire single, and was later included on the Japanese pressing of Colour Temple.
- Ridin’ The Wind – This very rare b-side is from the band’s 1992 Fire single. It pre-dates their albums.
- Eleyson – This was a bonus track from The Seraphic Clockwork.
- Das Ist Fur Euch – This rare track is from the band’s 1994 single of the same name. It’s apparently the anthem of a German football team.
As far as the albums and bonus tracks go, you get almost everything the band recorded in their impressive career. It’s a bit frustrating that a couple of bonus tracks were left off, and the absence of the very early demos seems like a missed opportunity for longtime fans, but those are minor gripes. You could also argue that 2017’s The Seraphic Live Works should have been included, but that set is still readily available.
A big part of this set’s appeal is its packaging. In an era when the average box set is tiny and each disc gets a cardboard sleeve, it’s so cool to see this big, beautiful box with its LP-sized booklet and each CD in its own jewel case with updated booklets. It’s just a gorgeous set overall.
The liner notes are a bit vague on which albums have been remastered for this set, and honestly aside from the first few they really don’t need it. Whatever upgrading they did is more noticeable on the ‘90s material, but it is nice to have all of these albums on the same sonic level.
The price point (as of the release date) was around $75, which is a total bargain given the number of discs and the packaging. As seems to be the trend though with these limited run Frontiers box sets, it has since started to climb in price. If you’re debating it, you may want to grab it while you still can.
The Epic Works 1991-2015 is – almost – everything a Vanden Plas fan could ask for. It may not have quite everything, but what it has looks and sounds amazing. Even if you have all of the albums in this set, you’ll find it really hard to resist.
Summary: The ultimate set for Vanden Plas fans