Back in 2011 when it was announced that Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen would reunite to form a band, expectations were high from the get-go. Ultimately, Unisonic‘s self-titled debut album fell a little short of greatness, but showed a lot of promise all the same. 2014’s Light of Dawn finally makes good on that promise.
When I was a young’un myself and started to get into heavy metal, I quickly found myself on a steady diet of teutonic power metal, with Helloween’s early efforts being played on a daily basis. I discovered Helloween through the Time of the Oath album and it’s first single, Power, but got into the earlier albums soon enough. And though I still enjoy the stuff they continue to put out with Andi Deris on vocals from time to time, there is something untouchable about both Keeper of the Seven Keys albums (and let’s not forget Walls of Jericho, with Kai Hansen on vocal duty). I even find a lot to enjoy on the often maligned Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon albums, released just before Kiske (and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg) and the band went their separate ways.
The thought of Kiske returning with a proper metal band again (after having found God and publicly swearing off all things metal for a while), and being joined by Hansen as well, must have been every Helloween fan’s wet dream. Unisonic’s debut was far from a bad album, and whilst it was closer to a hard rock album than a fiery power metal effort, it did sport a number of more than decent tunes. Light of Dawn, however, has moments where the band sounds closer to Helloween’s early sound than Helloween itself is capable of these days. And if that sounds impressive, it’s because it really, truly is.
Light of Dawn kicks off with the up-tempo Your Time Has Come, which is as close to a classic Helloween track as it gets. It’s a song that makes you want to take out your patched-up denim vest and head off to an eighties metal night at your local pub. It’s awesome, and arguably the best thing Kiske has put his vocals to since both Keeper albums. The rest of Light of Dawn is not quite as metal as that opening track, but moves into slightly more hard rocking territory. Not that that’s a bad thing, because the songwriting on this one is great, and the album as a whole sounds more like a band effort than the first time round.
Unisonic sounds like a real band on Light of Dawn, and the fact that they are able to build on the rather safe rock music on the debut album and often manage to put a real kick to the new material is testament to how this band has evolved in just three years. Most of the material was written by Dennis Ward, with Hansen not having written a single note for this one, but it does sound like a fresh take on the old Helloween sound, somewhere between both Keeper albums and both the more straightforward hardrock records they put out after that. There is a sense of fun on Light of Dawn that we haven’t heard from the original pumpkins for years now (instead, Helloween gets a little more angsty with each new effort).
Unisonic might not be a band for everyone, but fans of the Olden Days will surely find something to like on this one. From the kick-ass opener Your Time Has Come to the upbeat first single For the Kingdom, and from the monstrous riffs of Throne of the Dawn to the lighter rock of Exceptional, Light of Dawn is one of the most diverse metal/rock records to come out in the later half of 2014. A contender for the top ten lists, this one.
Release date: out now
- Venite 2.0 (1:30)
- Your Time Has Come (5:03)
- Exceptional (5:02)
- For the Kingdom (4:58)
- Not Gonna Take Anymore (4:26)
- Night of the Long Knives (5:02)
- Find Shelter (5:04)
- Blood (4:45)
- When the Deed Is Done (5:06)
- Throne of the Dawn (4:50)
- Manhunter (3:37)
- You and I (5:20)
- Michael Kiske – lead vocals
- Kai Hansen – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
- Mandy Meyer – lead & rhythm guitars
- Dennis Ward – bass, backing vocals
- Kosta Zafiriou – drums, percussion