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Here, Axxis cleaned up their act and released a very strong slab of melodic Germanism. I have no idea what the original "Kingdom of the night" sounds like, so I can't say if this is a "return to form" after the stupid "Voodoo vibes", or just a marketing gimmick. What I can tell you is that fans of "plain" (i.e. non-pretentious, non-tear jerking) power metal will not be disappointed. This is not a heavy album at all, but a friendly and fun-filled ride, for one of those days when you don't feel like walking around in all-black, painting inverted crosses at your job, school or retirement castle.
Bernhard Weiss is a quite cheesy singer, but certainly not unpleasant, and with a good sense of melody. He is also Axxis' lyricist, which is both their weakness and strength here. The lyrics are ridiculously badly written, so much as to sometimes actually ENHANCE the album through their hilarity alone. Most of the time, I have no idea what Weiss is trying to say with his lyrics, though the subject matters don't seem to be demanding enough for that to matter - they're usually about everyday observations, or some flyweight fantasy.
How about the anti-grammatical masterpiece "Flashback radio": "It's gonna make me sick, it's all this techno hype, can't hear it anymore, oh, I don't like this vibes!" SIC! This is no joke, the album is loaded to the brim with pearls like this. It's also humourous in another way, because if you read my review for "Voodoo vibes", you'll see that Axxis actually was a techno-wannabe poser band just 3 years prior to this!
As for the songs - well, "Shadowman" alone is worth buying the album for, it's that good! One of those rare songs when everything just comes together perfectly - the groove, the melody, the riffs. Not too long and not too short. The lyrics, insipid as they are, also work well here. Even if you don't plan to buy this album, do yourself a favour and check out this song!
I also love "Why not?!" and the goofball cover "Na na, hey hey, kiss him goodbye". "Heaven in black" is a very well-crafted half-ballad. Speedy "Like a sphinx" and "Ice on fire" are rock-solid, melodic sing-alongs, as are mid-tempo tracks "Sea of love", "White lights", "My little princess" and "Be a king" (digipack bonus).
They really focused their aims on this album, compared to "Voodoo vibes", where every song tried to be several things at once - both ballad and rocker, or ballad and disco. Here, the rocking songs don't try to be anything other than straight ahead rockers, and it works much better.
There are a few ballads here too, and they drag down the momentum a bit. However, I have to say the same thing about them as about the rockers - they are more focused than before (even if they ARE just ballads).
Melodic power metal at its finest, and not in the least pretentious, pompous or overblown. Thank you!
Favourite songs: "Shadowman", "Why not?!", "Heaven in black", "Na na, hey hey, kiss him goodbye", "Ice on fire"