Unisonic - Light of Dawn - (9/10)
Published on August 2, 2014
While the separation of Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske in the late 1980s created one of the most seminal power metal bands of all time (Gamma Ray), their eventual reunion resulted in something far less impressive. Unisonic’s self-titled debut promised a lot of things simply by the fact that so many renowned musicians had gathered to form a single “super group,” but the resulting work only impressed in pieces, not as a unified body, which is ironic since many of the members worked together in Place Vendome. This time around, however, all the disparate loose ends that made Unisonic so polarized in its presentation have been tied together and braided into a marvelously flowing body of work that shows a staggering variety of songwriting styles without any one of them stealing the show outright.
The groundwork, as can be expected, is the typical Germanic style of galloping riffs and drum patterns, all upbeat and energetic that the previous EP, For the Kingdom, intimated quite heroically. That much-needed reassurance carries over right into the opening track, “Your Time Has Come,” which is classic Helloween in every way, complete with Kiske’s signature wail, perhaps, though, with much more precision and passion than during his glory days, which is a nice level of polish.
Although Kiske is arguably the focal point of the album (his vocal variety is likewise as impressive as the songwriting), it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the record is also pretty damn heavy, and thankfully mixed with Dennis Ward’s presence on bass close to the forefront. The Pink Cream 69 references don’t stop there either, as the more melodic side of the album definitely resembles the band’s earlier work, namely One Size Fits All, which tracks such as “Exceptional” highlight superbly in the fist-pumping chorus or the ardent and unremitting lead guitar work found in “Blood,” of all songs, a mighty and manly ballad.
Even then, it’s not just Unisonic’s constituents that comprise the album’s sound, as Yes (“Owner of a Lonely Heart”) can be heard in the chorus of “Find Shelter” and even Metallica (“Enter Sandman”) during the main rhythm of “Throne of the Dawn.” Of course, Kai Hansen and Mandy Meyer quite smartly rein these salutations right back into the power metal fold to keep the direction exactly where it needs to go, which by this point on the album (right at the end), has been a fruitful symbiosis of different musical backgrounds. The twists and turns were all familiar yet mixed in such a way as to maintain cohesion from beginning to end, with a decidedly heavy foot forward to step away from the hard rock side, too, which means this is unquestionably a metal record, one that kicks so much ass, in fact, you can put all those old Helloween records back on the shelf and spin this one for a good long time.