First, let's look it over. I purchased the digipak because it had a bonus cd (containing a whole 3 tracks, but never mind). I don't know why, but I like digipaks. Sure, they're a bitch to store (since they won't fit in CD racks) and they collect dust (ok, so all my cds collect dust, cos I rip 'em and shelf 'em). It is attractively coloured in shades of blue, with a distinctly futuristic look, rather than the fantasy-esque of old. In the band photo, they all look very serious, except for goateed Kai Hansen, who is giving a little smirk.
"Unisonic" opens with a dramatic flourish, vocals racing up into a smooth and soaring chorus. Slammin' rockin' guitars and lots of energy. The lyrics are simple and repetitive - a great opening piece for both album and live performances with a rather complex and fast paced gutiar solo. Cleaner, polished and more mature than Helloween. Kiske's voice is clea, sweet and powerful.
A slower, but still dramatic opening to "Souls Alive" with twiddly guitar bits. Vocals are also slower, and rick with a good blend of guitars and vocals. This is pure rock with a touch of metal. It drops to a slower pace where Kiske's voice drops into his rich, lower notes, ending with a scream that proves he can still hold those notes!
"Never Too Late" starts with a bit of a quirk to it and good rock rhythms. Soaring into a great chorus. There is something so splendid about Kiske's voice, it fills me with joy and positivity, thrilling me to the core even to this day!
A modern, mainstream rock sound characterises "I've Tried". The vocals are on a slightly lower register, rising up into a catchy chorus:
"I've never said I'm sorry, but god only knows I've tried..."Ominous beats bring us into "Star Rider" with the litling vocals soaring up and down the octaves. Kiske still does a fine falsetto!
"Never Change Me" gives us a bouncy rock n roll rhythm with catchy beats.
There's a hint of glam in "Renegade" With its rich, thick vocals and higher pitched chorus. Nice flourishes of the guitars and a good solid guitar solo.
Another solid rock number, "My Sanctuary" has fast-paced vocals with sturdy guitar accompaniment. Soaring chorus and a nicely chanted conclusion.
There's a bit of an 80's rock vibe to the opening bars of "King for a Day". As powerful as ever, Kiske's voice soars and rises gloriously into an anthemic chorus, in which Hansen's distinctive vocals shadow his.
And for those that love the smooth, anthemic, feel-good pieces, "We Rise" certainly fits the bill. Kiske's voice is like a purr - smooth and sleek and the accompanying guitar rhythms reach deep down into the soul and fill the listener with, well, positivity.
We conclude with a haunting ballad, "No One Ever Sees Me", reminscent of some from Kiske's solo days: the sweet melodies, the bittersweet lyrics, the melancholic vocals. Accompanied by acoustic gutiars and somewhat soul-wrenching. Beautiful.
Now, for the three bonus tracks:
"Over the Rainbow" is another ballad; haunting and melancholic. The guitars a gentle accompaniment to the heart-breaking vocals.
Followed by "Souls Alive". I'm not sure how this differs from the previous version, except that it is two seconds shorter.
"The Morning After" is another haunting piece, the opening somewhat reminding me of Sting's ballads, for some reason. Maybe it's the guitar. It quickly surges into a rather rockier chorus, before slowing down again.
This is not Helloween, this is not Gamma Ray. It is heavier than Kiske's solo work, although probably closer to that than any of the former. And you know what? If you want to hear Kiske doing power/symphonic metal, you just need to pick up an Avantasia album or any of his other side projects. This is more polished than the 80s stuff, with a clarity of sound and complexity of rhythm that is pure rock (with a touch of metal).
It's good stuff - 9/10.