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The Ignition ep released two months before Unisonic's debut blew me away, evoking melodic perfection while maintaining a decidedly non-heavy sound. The product was sweet and succinct, almost sounding like '80s Helloween boiled down to its most simplistic roots, and it was nearly as enjoyable. I'm satisfied to say that while the personally breathtaking EP might have raised my expectations to a point never reached here, Unisonic mostly delivers with dazzling finesse. This is carefree, hard rock music in its purest form, no shame or embarrassment about it. Sometimes it lingers close to the edge of airhead pop rock, but never does it plummet to the depths of abyssal songwriting stupidity.
My review of Ignition basically summed up the musical direction here, but I'll reiterate and expound upon Unisonic's style with further development. The most important thing to tell yourself before listening to this album is that this isn't Helloween. Yes, it reunites Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske, but Unisonic isn't exactly another Keeper of the Seven Keys. Only trace remains can be found from the glory days of the legendary German power kings, and their connections persist mainly in abstract elements like the sheer energy and jubilant nature of the performances. For the most part, this record is made up of light and generally radio-friendly material, forging its roots firmly in rock rather than engraving itself fully as a power metal entity.
That isn't to say, however, that the songs often suffer for it. The majority of the tunes featured here succeed thanks to capable songwriting and a penchant for having fun; hell, a lot of fun. There are numbers that will be stuck in your head for days (even if we already heard them two months ago). "Never Change Me" features a chorus that would sound appropriate in a Katy Perry song, but I just can't care when it's this catchy. "Never Too Late" and "I've Tried" are a similar pair of stadium stompers, the latter of which bouncing around like a track in a Persona game's soundtrack (which is a very good thing). "Renegade" summons some of power metal glory missing in the rest of the proceedings.
The true showstoppers disappointingly remain those that we already heard on the EP, making that release a little misleading and this one slightly disappointing as a result. Perfect opener "Unisonic," the instant classic "My Sanctuary," and the brilliant "Souls Alive" all dominate the meat of the album, offering more power and memorable hooks than the rest of the songs. This separation in quality is more noticeable as the record goes on, as the second half is a bit lacking in impact compared to the first. Closing ballad "No One Ever Sees Me" isn't the most despicable ballad I've heard this year, but it doesn't leave much of an impression, either. The only track I find myself actively skipping with each playthrough is "Star Rider," which is just about as close as this band comes to recording totally banal, commercial tripe.
Although Unisonic doesn't quite live up to the promise of its debut ep here, and this isn't the ideal comeback one would hope for from the talent involved, I still couldn't help but be entertained for the time allotted. Most of the songs are on and there's fun to be had, so what could be the harm, right? Michael Kiske, while not in prime dog-killing form, delivers the goods like a man of fewer years. As does Kai Hansen on guitar, even if you won't hear any fret-burning solos within the confines of this recording. Due to these reasons, Unisonic is kind of about settling, but luckily for us, it's worth settling for. Just don't expect the unattainable and you'll be good to go.