Unisonic – Light of Dawn (Armoury)Thursday, 31st July 2014
Well documented are the trials and tribulations of any Michael Kiske-fronted Helloween reunion coming down the pike these days. Despite any resurrection/reunion craze (and supposedly six figures festival offers from their homeland), there appears to be too much damage to make full reparations. Nonetheless, two-fifths of the infamous Keepers I/II saga are back again on this second full length, as guitarist Kai Hansen is more than happy to contribute to this melodic power metal quintet.
Unisonic also consists of seasoned veterans like Pink Cream 69’s rhythm section of bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafiriou, as well as second guitarist Mandy Meyer of Krokus fame. It wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if the performances and songwriting didn’t match the talent level. Fortunately for us, Light of Dawn builds upon their self-titled debut, and expands sonically what the band wish to achieve in the genre.
Do you want to hear Kiske ascend to 1980’s “Eagle Fly Free” heights in his vocal register? Look no further than the outstanding speed frenzy of “Your Time Has Come,” the chorus shimmering as Hansen/Meyer weave their dual harmony axe magic and the rhythm section gallops and smoothly handles the transitions along with occasional Judas Priest/Painkiller flourishes. And when it comes to ballad work, Michael proves up to the challenge in tender restraint for the closer, the bluesy hard rocker “You and I.” It’s as if he has gained a sense of maturity while not losing one iota of feeling in his multiple octave voice, making him a premiere power metal singer that thousands through the years strive to become.
Highlights are numerous. The commercial orientation of “Exceptional” recalls another memorable Helloween moment in “I Want Out”, the thunderous pulsating anthem “Not Gonna Take Anymore” with the right rhythmic march and guitars to keyboard balance (with a lyrical tip of the cap to “Walls of Jericho”), and more brilliant power harmonies anchor against the clean verses for “When the Deed Is Done.” And to those that think Light of Dawn is all throwback, check out the darker, slightly modern tones for “Throne of the Dawn” (where Mandy and Kai deliver some sizzling back and forth axe breaks) and know that Unisonic are serious about being one of the best in this style for years to come.
The key to a successful power metal group is emphasizing strengths and keeping your eyes on the dynamic songwriting prize, and these Germans deliver in spades. Light of Dawn sets the bar even higher for Unisonic’s headline status, and will be one of the must have metal albums for 2014.