Unisonic – Unisonic
First off, I feel sorry for anyone who got sucked into the marketing campaign surrounding Unisonic’s debut and therefore believed that this would somehow be the third Keeper Of The Seven Keys that people who are frozen in time have been anticipating for years. Never mind that Helloween already released a third Keepers, or that Gamma Ray’s Heading For Tomorrow could perfectly stand in for the closing trilogy chapter, and most of all: that neither part of the legendary Kiske-Kai combo ever had any intention to continue where they left off. Unisonic should be taken for what it is: an eclectic collaboration between two very talented musicians with more than enough merits of its own.
Truth be told, Kai Hansen didn’t even enter the proceedings until some of the material was already written, so this isn’t even a substitute for a new Gamma Ray-album. It is simply a fun mix of hard rock, AOR, and power metal with the tasty guitar work of mister Hansen and the delicious vocals of Michael Kiske, the man who swore off metal only to appear on various releases by Masterplan, Edguy, and Avantasia. Both veterans are in fine form here, but luckily their performances are not the saving grace of the album, but rather the cherry on top of an already yummy pie.
Anyone who can shake off the opening title track from coming back to them is a wizard, and I wouldn’t ever want to, because it’s so wonderfully simple and catchy. I usually dislike repeat-the-title-choruses, but this one is a welcome exception. Sing it with me: “UUUNIIISOOONIIIC!” Follow-up “Souls Alive” strikes a more serious note with some touching lyrics wrapped in a melodic power metal tune with a refrain flying as an eagle free. “Never Too Late” is more hard rock-ish, with another chorus worthy of framing, and “I’ve Tried” follows on its heels with more heartfelt and unforgettable crooning.
“Star Rider” is a slower spacey track, and its subject and backing vocals courtesy of Kai reminded me a little of Gamma Ray’s Somewhere Out In Space. “Never Change Me” is bouncy hard rock at its finest, and “Renegade” is another standout with a fighting chorus that’ll roll around in your head for days. Oozing ever more confidence, “My Sanctuary”, “King For A Day”, and “We Rise” soar on the wings of birds that defy my eagle metaphor of before (condors, perhaps?). Of course there is a necessary ballad in the form of “No One Ever Sees Me”, and stuck in the back it doesn’t get in anyone’s way.
As much as I dig Helloween I honestly don’t give two pumpkins about Unisonic not being Keepers reborn, especially not when the result of the Kiske-Kai duo reaps such rich fruits. Traditional power metal fans may scoff at this and play “Future World” until they drop dead, but they’d ignore hearing two of their favorite artists doing some bloody fine work, even if not fully within the genre they grew famous with. No one is taking the Keepers away from you and now aside from them we have a very entertaining crossover rock/metal album with more infectious choruses than you can shake a bootleg copy of Dr. Stein at. And at the very least, it sure beats Chameleon.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 4.0 out of 5