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The formation of the band Unisonic marks Michael Kiske's full-time return to the land of rock and metal since his formative Helloween years. And this time, he's also brought along good friend, former Helloween bandmate, and Gamma Ray frontman Kai Hansen along for the ride. The two are no strangers to collaboration, as Kiske appeared on both Land of the Free and To the Metal!, but this is the first time the two have been featured on an album entirely since Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. II. While this quasi-Helloween reunion has a few familiar flares of speed/power metal, this is by and large a more hard rock/heavy metal outing. But that's no reason for hardcore Helloween and Gamma Ray fans to fret, as this band delivers an album that is fun, fast, and full of good times.
After only a few sporadic appearances with Avantasia and Gamma Ray, it is a great feeling to once again hear Michael Kiske's voice with a rock/metal sound again. Twenty-some years removed from his Keeper of Seven Keys glory days, Michael's voice understandably is not hitting the same kind of high notes he once was. But by no means has his voice lost any of the command, power, or familiarity from singing in Helloween, and his tenor is still strong and his lower octave is actually more befitting of a hard rock feel than frantic power metal. He also exhibits an excellent vibrato on songs such as My Sanctuary. Kai Hansen takes the duty of lead guitar, and while he's not shredding like fans are used to on Gamma Ray releases, he still provides strong hard rock riffs and the occasional awesome solo. The instrumentation as a whole is extremely solid and complements Kiske's voice well.
As I mentioned before, the songs are more of a hard rock/heavy metal nature rather than speed or power metal, but they are still fast-paced, melodic and catchy. The two most noteworthy tracks are the title track Unisonic and My Sanctuary, which are easily the most anthemic and memorable songs on the album. King for a Day has a slower, more grinding feel to it, Never Change Me has a slight pop-rock/pop-metal sound, and Star Rider is both hard and emotional. Even the obligatory power ballad No One Ever Sees Me is solid. Though power ballads are always risky to do, as they are seemingly done just for the sake of having one and very rarely stray from a "soft-yet-heavy-as-it-picks-up-but-still-soft" sound, it's still an enjoyable listen and has a meaningful message of the oppression of women in the Middle East.
Unisonic is an enjoyable for listen for anyone who is either a die-hard Helloween and Gamma Ray fan or those who simply like entertaining, fast-paced rock songs. The band has a very promising future and I am interested to see how far they go from here and how they will carry on. This is one of the most solid rock/metal albums I've heard in a long time and while it will not go down as a classic, it will most likely be extremely underrated as well. Very strong performances around, but with guys like Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen, that is to be expected.