earMUSIC [Release date 04.08.14]
Arguably, 2014 has already been a good year for the power metal genre: Gamma Ray, Edguy and Freedom Call, amongst others have spun out very worthy platters. German supergroup Unisonic have easily augmented that roster with their 2nd album ‘Light Of Dawn’.
Unisonic are fronted by former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen, though prior to this band’s debut in 2011, they hadn’t worked together since 1988. Hansen also founded Gamma Ray. The rest of the band compris bassist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), Mandy Meyer (Krokus, Asia) handling guitars and Kosta Zafiriou (Pink Cream 69) on the drum stool.
This band are probably a bit more melodic metal-influenced than Helloween. That said, Kiske’s distinctive vocals remain entirely intact and maybe he is even clearer, brighter and sharper than before.
Once the inevitable brooding instrumental opener ‘Venite’ is out of the way, Kiske and Hansen duel beautifully on ‘Your Time Has Come’, a gloriously anthemic, perfectly paced piece of pure power metal. This sets the tone for the whole album: top notch production, soaring choruses, layers of crisp guitar and huge drums.
It’s all here. Tracks like ‘For The Kingdom’, Not Gonna Take Any More’ and ‘Throne Of The Dawn’ are fist pounding, shred-tastic, rollicking slabs of full-speed theatrical metal. Quality, uplifting fare.
The experience of the band really shows through and there are changes of pace a-plenty, with mid-tempo rockers like ‘Exceptional’ and ‘Blood’ breaking up the assault; and a smattering of power ballads where Kiske flexes the more soulful side of his larynx, such as on the effective ‘When The Deed Is Done’.
This album probably won’t go down as a top notch classic, in my humble view. Some of the tracks are just a little too formulaic or derivative. ‘Night Of The Long Knives’, for instance, is a bit of a struggle. And the perennial Achilles heel of power metal is the tendency to slip into cheesy territory. ‘Light Of Dawn’’s contender for the Dairylea moment, I venture, is ‘You and I’, a thick ballad that is part ‘Auld Lang Syne’, and part Rod Stewart throw away. A real skin crawler.
That observation shouldn’t detract too much from the overall strength of the offering though. This is a highly competent, high energy, supremely entertaining slab of solid power metal. ****
Review by Dave Atkinson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 1 August 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week and an interview with “metal queen” Lee Aaron.
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