|Unisonic - 'For The Kingdom' EP (earMUSIC)|
|Written by Matt Phelps|
|Tuesday, 03 June 2014 03:00|
Two years after their captivating debut album hit my hard rock senses head on German supergroup Unisonic are back in action and ready to drop album two, 'Light Of Dawn', in the first week of August. Leading up to that eagerly anticipated release we have 'For The Kingdom', a six track EP which gives us our first taste of the new material from Helloween legend Michael Kiske, Gamma Ray's Kai Hansen, Pink Cream 69's rhythmic sound king Dennis Ward, Krokus man Mandy Meyer and drummer Kosta Zafiriou.
Okay, so the new material here is limited to just two brand new tracks (the EP's other four tunes being previously unreleased live versions of songs from the debut) but the new dynamic duo give a resoundingly clear shot of where the band stands in 2014.
First up is the title track and 'For The Kingdom' opens the gates for a triumphant return. The realms of melody and heaviness are both conquered magnificently with Kiske leading from the front, trademark tones flying high as the flags are raised to a power metal soundtrack. Ward's galloping bassline brings a Maidenesque energy to the tune and injects a life force into the very heart of '...The Kingdom'. You could easily imagine this one fitting onto a classic Helloween album. Full of snappy guitar riffs, laser precise solos and hammering drums, all held together with the seamless stitching of sublime vocal melodies. But it's in no way a lazy case of ripping up and replanting the roots of Helloween. Unisonic have cultivated their own very personal identity combining the five unique elements within their ranks and their music has grown into a hard force to be reckoned with. This is the sound of a band coming into their own, focused on their aim, stronger at their game.
'You Come Undone' is the second of the two new cuts and an EP exclusive. It's another rip roaring ride through energetic rock country. Kiske again soaring over more high octane riffs. The guitars and vocals compliment each other like no other and the chemistry within the band peaks in a creative storm of power and drive. Musically this is a gear up from anything on the debut. A real return to the soaring choruses and melody heavy verses that the Kiske/Hansen partnership was famed for back in the Helloween glory days. Though Michael has shied away somewhat from a full return to metal on most of his more personal projects we have had glimpses through the years of what potential there is for metal magic due to his guest slots with Gamma Ray and Avantasia. Here he finally seems comfortable to fully embrace the metal again and these two tracks are probably the heaviest territories that he has walked in within one of his own bands. No one carries a powerful metal tune for me as well as Kiske and it's these full pelt numbers that I just can't get enough off. And with Dennis Ward's flawless production polishing the whole thing off 'For The Kingdom' positively shines.
The songs remain the same for the twelve inch vinyl version of 'For The Kingdom' that is also available, save for the fact they sit in a different order with the two new studio cuts taking the lead grooves on each side. The four live tracks ('Unisonic', 'Never Too Late', 'Star Rider' and 'Souls Alive') are all pulled from recordings of the Masters Of Rock Festival 2012 and serve a purpose by giving a snapshot of the bands live prowess but as a fan eager for new material I would have much preferred an extra glimpse of what else is to come later in the year. Maybe the inclusion of a demo or two but that's personal gripe. The live songs themselves definitely rock when cranked up and get me cursing the fact that the UK still hasn't been blessed with a Unisonic live show yet!
The overriding impression though is that 'For The Kingdom' gives us great fix of a band on form. When album two arrives in August Unisonic have hugely realistic chance of taking the crown for themselves.