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Michael Kiske is one of metal’s most polarizing figures, isn’t he? He sang on some really well-acclaimed albums back in the day with Helloween, but then proceeded to act like a huge douche for the next 20 years and proclaim that metal is below him and that it isn’t true art, among other nonsensical rambling. And yet he still sings and makes guest appearances on metal albums anyway…what a ridiculous character! But his voice is so good that somehow, albums like Unisonic remain fun anyway. It’s nothing great, but it is catchy!
The basic formula is something like early 80s Scorpions, with shiny hard rock guitars and catchy, poppy choruses. The best songs on here are the most unabashedly poppy ones, just for how smooth and relatable the melodies are – songs like the soaring “Never Too Late” and the wonderful “My Sanctuary” are easily some of the most enjoyable I have heard all year. “Star Rider” has a huge power metal chorus and some spacey futuristic sounds, and I like it. “We Rise” is one of the more atmospheric songs on display, too, with some aching, mournful vocal lines from Kiske. “Never Change Me” is the most straightforward track, and it’s perfect for a work out session or driving on a bright sunny morning with your spirits high – it’s not metal at all, and is pretty much a pop song with distortion, but for what it is, it’s spectacular, and a really honest, fun little tune, even despite its brainlessness.
Although really, I can’t score this too high – there are too many songs I don’t care for, like the tepid “I’ve Tried” and the awkward “King for a Day” with its groovy “darker” tone that just doesn’t gel with the rest of the album. If there were more songs like it, maybe, but it’s the only one, and as such, just doesn’t fit in. “Renegade” is an epic power metal stomp and while I like it, it just feels out of place on here. “Souls Alive” has some of the best verses on the album, but the chorus is pretty wimpy, I have to admit. And the ballad “No One Ever Sees Me” goes on a minute or two too long.
And while these songs are all appealing to the ear and fun to sing along with…I don’t know, I’d feel kind of weird giving this a high rating. It’s just pure ear candy, nothing else. While these songs are great for driving to or working out to, as art and entertainment, it’s pretty much shallow, and although I do like it, I feel like I’d be dishonest in giving it a score above 60%. It’s not exactly on the same level as Blackout or Balls to the Wall for pop metal, after all. If you really want Kiske and Hansen, this is a good place to find them, as long as you’re not expecting anything too substantial. Unisonic is the musical equivalent of a bag of miniature Snickers and Butterfinger bars – sweet and fattening but not exactly healthy.