I’ll be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to anything by messers Kiske and Hansen. People will argue that Helloween’s golden age was when both were still a huge part of the band and I have to say that I was looking forward to wrapping my ears around this wonderful little advanced morsel of Unisonic’s coming album, due in March.
Unisonic is Kiske’s return to the scene (solo projects aside) for the first time in almost 16 years since his departure from Helloween in late 1993. He’s been joined by Dennis Ward and Kosta Zafiriou (Pink Cream 69) who both worked with him on his solo projects as well as guitarist Mandy Meyer (Asia, Gotthard and Krokus) and of course fellow former Helloween strings man Kai Hansen.
Opening with the self titled song “Unisonic” I feel like I’ve been transported if not quite back to Keeper era ‘ween, back to Pink Bubbles which to me is still one of their most under-rated albums (for all that Hansen wasn’t a part of them by then). There’s a commercial edge to the track that benefits from the clean cut and still wonderful vocals of Michael Kiske while still maintaining a superb driving rhythm from the band behind him. It has everything that I would expect from and band containing both him and Hansen. Great melody across both vocals and guitars, dual harmony solos, yep all here and sets us up nicely going into the second track, My Sanctuary.
My Sanctuary continues the commercial tinged metal feeling with a good does of heavy rock and roll thrown in. Kiske’s vocals once again soar as he hits the chorus and it is really, really good to hear his voice has lost nothing over the years. At times it feels like it’s bordering on a power ballad but doesn’t quite become as cliched thankfully and keeps the emphasis on the power.
The third track, Souls Alive, is probably my favorite just ahead of Unisonic and closer in style to some of the amazing b-sides that Helloween threw out alongside their singles of Keeper II. A little bit more complicated rhythm wise with some nice background keys coming through and also more mid paced that I can see live would have the fans bouncing along to it. There’s even time to throw in a little bit of quirkiness in the breakdown towards the end of the song before it opens up the throttle once again into a soaring solo leading to the final chorus.
Lastly, a little treat for those of us who were lovers of that golden Helloween lineup with a live version of I Want Out from Keeper II. To this day the song still sounds fresh and even its message holds relevance in this day and age. Never the less it’s great to once again hear both Kiske and Hansen tearing up the stage with a Helloween classic.
If someone asked me today what an album with them together again would sound like I would definitely have said Unisonic. I feel I’ve stepped back in time to music I loved back then and music I still love today. Roll on the full album because I for one can’t wait to hear what else these guys have up their sleeves based on this precursor mini album.
Rating – 8/10
Review written by Scott Watson.
Michael Kiske (vocals)
Mandy Meyer (guitars)
Kai Hansen (guitars)
Dennis Ward (bass)
Kosta Zafiriou (drums)
Unisonic Official Video Premier