For most, the thrill will be the news that old Halloween colleagues, Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen are reunited. But for many it will be the fact that Mandy (Krokus/Cobra) Meyer is in the band and contributing his considerable songwriting talent. Let’s be clear upfront. In stylistic terms, this may well be power metal. But by today’s standards it’s far from being heavy.
Effectively, Kiske and Hansen – with the help of Meyer and the ubiquitous Dennis Ward – have jettisoned the baggage of the past, resulting in this EP of streamlined metal. Without exaggeration, these 3 new tracks hint at a new sonic alchemy, created by the passage of time and an injection of fresh talent.
As you would expect from a Ward production, the music is clean and precise, crisp and powerful. It’s light on its feet but rich in texture. Hansen’s fluid guitar moulds and shapes each song, trading transitions with Meyer on the anthemic title track ‘Unisonic’ (Meyer/Hansen/Ward), a word invented for musicians united. Kiske’s voice swoops and soars and the axes briefly zoom into orbit. The impressive ‘My Sanctuary’ (Ward/Hansen) is much more rock than metal. Only when Kiske’s vocal takes flight and Hansen’s guitar twins up with Meyer’s are we reminded of their previous life.
But it’s third track, the towering ‘Souls Alive’ (Meyer/Ward) that truly makes an impact here. Full of orchestral pace and power, it recaptures the best moments of melodic metal before it became bloated and ridiculously bombastic. It’s melodic rock with a shiny veneer of power metal, buffed and gleaming, but with just enough grit in the mix to give it contemporary relevance. And a great chorus.
A live and perhaps unneeded version of the Helloween classic, ‘I Want Out’ closes out this introductory quartet of tracks. This kind of inclusion always makes me think the Record Company got cold feet. Consequently deciding it important to remind us of the band members’ past glories. That being the case, it was totally unnecessary. The 3 new tracks promise great things. Roll on the full album.