|Kiske/Somerville - 'City Of Heroes' (Frontiers Music)|
|Written by Matt Phelps|
|Thursday, 16 April 2015 03:40|
Magical! That would be the simplest way to describe 'City Of Heroes'. Simply magical!
Each element of this spectacular new album from Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville outshines everything from their critically acclaimed debut from 2010 and that is no mean feat. When I reviewed that initial Kiske/Somerville outing some five years ago I was blown away by the combined power, structures and melodies that were crafted into those twelve breathtaking duets and AOR anthems. I couldn't get enough of them.
Thankfully the five years between then and now have hardly been a barren wasteland for these two exciting artists as both are seemingly never far from albums and stages with the likes of Unisonic, Avantasia or a plethora of other projects. But now, finally, the core of the championship team that was responsible for that sparkling debut are reunited again for this sophomore Kiske/Somerville release. The lion's share of the savagely beautiful writing once more coming from the denim pens and leather quills of Primal Fear power duo Mat Sinner and Magnus Karlsson.
Drums this time around are provided by the very capable and visually pleasing Veronika Lukesova and that's the only real change, other than that it's a case of more of the same as last time just bigger, better and a whole lot more beautiful (see previous drummer comment). Sinner and Karlsson rely on a tried and tested formula for the most part but with a couple of tweaks in the right places the tunes this time take an agreeable step up in terms of hard hitting deliverance.
Kicking off with the title track we're catapulted straight into a high energy blast of scintillating metal with Kiske and Somerville bringing their usual A game to the starting grid. As the pair soar straight into the 'City Of Heroes' their voices unite in a tornado of sonic excellence. They've clearly grown into each others company with ease over the years and their harmonies fly, well, harmoniously together. Uplifting, energising, 'City Of Heroes' really gets the fire started and it could be said that it borders on power metal to a degree. Us old school pumpkin lovers just adore hearing Michi tearing his way through something like that, right? Hell yeah! A fantastic start for sure.
'Walk On Water' follows hot on '...Heroes' heels and it's a tune packed with the power and the majesty of a Steinman epic all wrapped up in a four minute bundle of symphonic joy. It's an immediate departure from the opening style of the title track and shows that this album is by no means a carbon copy of the debut. Proof required? See 'Rising Up' which rolls out in third place and again takes a different stance to its two stylistically separate predecessors. This time we're pumping up the volume with a parp laden romp of independence packed with a thousand chain breaking, phoenix flying metaphors. It's a winner, ticking all the right hard rock boxes with power, melody and infectious grooves all in plentiful abundance.
'Lights Out' also rides high on the fist pumping chart and the glorious 'Open Your Eyes' lifts the already electric atmosphere further with a rocketing rhythm and galloping charge through yet another tune heaven sent from AOR angels with a hard rock bent. Accusations for the weakest of the pack might be leveled at 'Salvation' but while it might not have the same instant impact as some of the other tunes here it still stands toe to toe with the best of what the debut album had to offer, testament to the overall strength of 'City Of Heroes' as a whole.
The production from Sinner is as faultless as you would expect and the mix from Jacob Hansen a perfect blend of light and shadows, their work evident with the sublime 'After The Night Is Over' capturing an air of vulnerability and multiplying it tenfold. They bring the songs to life with their work behind the desk as much as Kiske and Somerville do behind the mics and the determination put into 'Run With A Dream' simply amplifies the comfort and belief that Michael and Amanda now have in each other. Their voices were made to be heard together, they know it, Sinner knows it, we know it, and together they create the perfect union.
It's hard to get across just how much I've fallen in love with this album. I know I have a few more contenders for "album of the year" coming my way in the next few months but 'City Of Heroes' is most definitely on the shortlist and already an odds on favourite to take the title. I realise I say something like that about every Kiske-based release I review for Uber Rock but with 'City Of Heroes' the results are, like I said at the very beginning of this piece, nothing short of magical.