|Unisonic - 'Unisonic' (earMUSIC)|
|Written by Matt Phelps|
|Wednesday, 12 September 2012 04:00|
Joining drummer Kosta Zafiriou in the star studded line up of Unisonic are Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween), Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween), Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) and Mandy Meyer (ex-Gotthard). All bring personal résumés to the table with individual credentials that could put many other "all star" bands to shame. Then again that doesn't always translate into success (True Brits anyone?) or for that matter quality. Thankfully Unisonic have plenty of tried and tested track results from previous projects to call upon. Most importantly there's the Kiske/Ward AOR-gasmic project that was Place Vendome for starters (which ultimately lead towards the formation of Unisonic and getting Kiske back in a proper live band) and Kai Hansen's undeniable place as head of the power metal movement and writer of some of the greatest guitar driven rock songs to ever come out of Europe. Draw a line between these two bands and mid way you'll find the cauldron of creativity that fuels Unisonic.
They are the ultimate team, utilising every one of the individual members finest attributes they've crafted a stunning album and the opening rallying cry of title track 'Unisonic' slams down the intent like a handful of aces. By comparison second track 'Souls Alive', which was the first Unisonic tune to be streamed online a couple years ago, shows where the blossoming idea to take tentative strides outside the genre confines of the Place Vendome project started, moving from AOR to hard hitting rock with a galloping bassline.
'Never Too Late' is a Hansen penned track that sees him step away from the power metal that Gamma Ray have become more accustomed to playing in latter years and liberating his inner radio friendly writing side with a tune harking back to the style and sound that first stocked 1990's 'Heading For Tomorrow' with simple pleasures like 'Free Time'. 'I've Tried' too almost has a little pop heart hiding within it with a Frankie Goes To Hollywood type thing going on with the 'Two Tribes' vibe of Ward's particularly funky bassline. 'Never Change Me' has a defiant streak as wide as an autobahn while successfully remaining upbeat and 'Renegade' literally brings the music alive with a pulse of its own as Kiske rides the groove like a sheriff back in town to reclaim his old spurs.
Another Hansen tune, 'Never Change Me', seems to prove yet again that's it's his true destiny to write songs for Kiske's voice. For me there's pretty much no one else who even comes close to this union of talents. The type of music that these two make together is what I live for, it's my oxygen, a sunshine shot in the arm that can lift flagging spirits in an instant. It makes me want to cut sleeves off denim jackets, run up the poster flags and stitch a bar towel to the back of my leather jacket.
On rockers like 'My Sanctuary' and 'King For A Day' Zafiriou's drums capture thunder then switch seamlessly to a fine mist of delicacy on the only Kiske penned tune on the album, the heartfelt 'No One Ever Sees Me' and with Ward at the production helm (co-produced by Hansen) the overall sound of these tracks is that of a similar vein to the Place Vendome albums. I'm not usually a fan of the ultra clean cut as I tend to like a little dirt in the mix but around Kiske the music really does need to shine so much just so it's not left in the dust and sounding second rate. I struggle for anything new to say about Michael Kiske's voice. He has been my all time favourite singer since the first time I heard him, nearly a quarter of a century ago now. To me he's the man with the golden tongue, the true keeper of the 007 keys with a licence to thrill and while some people may not be happy about his years "away" from the metal scene I myself positively embraced having such a wide ranging variety of material featuring his voice to sink my teeth into. That said though nothing quite gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing up like the sound of Michael Kiske in flat out rock mode and 'Unisonic' is full of Michi in full flight glory.
Whether this journey will ever come close to the magic and lasting popularity of those early Helloween albums that Kiske and Hansen cut together in the eighties remains to be seen but in 2012 Unisonic are in a field of their own, nestling in the fertile land between the past successes of their combined number and a brave new future world with limitless possibilities where they will hopefully continue to grow and create amazing music like this for many years to come.
To pick up your copy of 'Unisonic (Mediabook)' - CLICK HERE