If you don’t know who Unisonic are, you have quite a bit of listening to do! Unisonic is the latest band formed by Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) that recently acquired Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray/ex-Helloween) on guitars. Despite the fact that Hansen has made fantastic music since leaving Helloween, and the fact that both of these guys did a great job as guest performers in Avantasia, I wasn’t expecting to be a power metal album. In fact, until I heard the three new tracks that appeared on the Ignition EP, I wasn’t even sure if this would be all that good. Luckily, that EP proved that these two haven’t lost a step at all. While it is true that this is much more of a hard rock/traditional heavy metal album, there are definitely moments that are very reminiscent of Helloween on this record.
The songs on this album are extremely diverse in both sound and quality. I wouldn’t call any of the songs bad, but there are definitely tracks that don’t have much of an impact (“Never Too Late” and “No One Ever Sees Me”). Both of these tracks are unfortunately a little bit too upbeat for my liking. I can handle the excessively poppy power metal - after all, Dragonforce and Freedom Call are both great – but “Never Too Late” is a bit much for me. The chorus is actually very similar to “Time to Break Free” (the Gamma Ray track featuring Kiske on vocals), but that track was never a favourite of mine either. “No One Ever Sees Me” is just one of those ballads that isn’t harmful, but it isn’t particularly interesting either. It definitely shows how great of a singer Kiske is, but I’m sure by the time you reach song eleven, you already know that. Aside from those two songs, the rest of the album delivers.
The best tracks are by far the three from the EP: “Unisonic”, “Souls Alive”, and “My Sanctuary”. The latter is right up there with the best songs from the Keeper albums. These three songs are the ones with the most power metal influence; they have epic melodic harmonies, great solos, and the catchiest of choruses. In fact, I almost felt like I had heard some of the melodies in those songs before, because they were so memorable. There are definitely a couple of songs that I could see as growers and becoming a quick favourite: “Renegade”, “King For A Day”, and “We Rise”. These tracks are also bordering on the edge of power metal. The remaining cuts are a little bit more straight-forward and I imagine are there to provide some contrast between Gamma Ray and Unisonic.
For what it is, "Unisonic" is a solid metal release. If you come into it with an open-mind, knowing that it won’t be a rehash of Helloween, there are definitely a lot of good things about this album. On the other hand, there are also some flaws, but they are few and far between. Unisonic is just one of those bands and albums that had to happen, and now that it has, it definitely won’t have me asking “what if?” Kiske is more into hard rock now, but this album is definitely a step in the right direction.
As an aside, - and I’m probably the only crazy person who thinks this – the verse of the song “Star Rider” reminds me of “You’re The Voice” by John Farnham. If you aren’t familiar with that song, I’d avoid listening to it. I struggled to listen to the Unisonic song because it reminds me of Farnham’s song so much. Listener beware: once you here this, you cannot unhear it.
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4.1/5 or 82%
Written by Scott