The Unity – Rise (SPV/Steamhammer)

Monday, 24th September 2018
Rating: 7/10

As Kai Hansen continues to skip merrily across the globe in the reunited Helloween, his Gamma Ray bandmates Henjo Richter (guitar) and Michael Ehré (drums) are at least doing something with their extended free-time, namely, busting out hearty AOR power metal in The Unity. The band’s 2017 self-titled debut was showered with praise from all the prominent Euro metal mags, giving them the kind of jump-start a veteran-packed band as this can only dream of. So, here comes the ever-pivotal sophomore album, Rise, which is more fluffy and less muscular than its predecessor.

Vocalist Jan Manenti (also of Love. Might. Kill) is less of a firebrand power metal vocalist than he is a melodic hard rock guy, which perhaps explains why The Unity prefers these uplifting, major-key jams that have less in common with the top rung of power metal than easy-on-the-ears groups like, say, Gotthard, Outloud and TNT. And that’s really the drill here across Rise, with poppy melodies thrusting out from every orifice, whether on “Last Betrayal,” “Road to Nowhere” and “Welcome Home,” the latter of which taking the cake if we’re talking about saccharine. This thing does get pretty light in the loafers.

There is often a threshold for hard(er) rock of this kind that drifts into metal. Virtually every power metal band worth its salt have at least a handful of these songs on their albums. The trick is that they don’t run it into the ground. The Unity, though, have whipped up a batch of 13 cream-puff songs that are just heavy enough not to be called “soft rock.”