“CLOSE TO THE SUN”
Album Review By Iron Mathew
Place Vendome are a melodic hard rock/album orientated project put together by Frontiers Music president Serafino Perugino after a conversation with former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske. The pair had a common interest – a passion for the eighties style of melodic rock and AOR. So it was agreed that Kiske would sing on the project, with the songs written by various artists. The bands debut album was released in 2005 to an amazing reception, leading to a second album that saw the light of day in 2008. A third album was released in 2013 with the bands fourth album set for release in 2017.
Michael Kiske, best known as the singer for German power metal band Helloween from 1986 to 1993, has also had a successful career as a solo artist, contributed to albums by Avantasia and currently fronts Unisonic, which reunites Kiske with another former Helloween band mate, Kai Hansen. Dennis Ward, bass player for Unisonic, is also a member of Place Vendome along with drummer Dirk Bruinenberg, guitarist Uwe Reitenauer and keyboard player Gunther Werno. Guest writers for the albums song list came from various bands across the heavy metal spectrum and include contributions by members of Primal Fear, Cain’s Offering, Labyrinth, Rhapsody, Secret Sphere and Palace. With this multitude of talent on offer, the album is hard rocking and melodic, with touches of AOR.
The album opens with the title song ‘Close To The Sun’. Rocking hard with a catchy rhythm, the unmistakable voice of Kiske is sounding better than ever. With its focus on rock and AOR, this is not a heavy metal album, as ‘Welcome To The Edge’ demonstrates. Packing a huge eighties melodic rock influence, the sound is more American rock than either British or European. If you like bands such as Journey, Boston, Toto and Asia, then you’re gonna love this album. ‘Hereafter’ is a solid foot stomp, ‘Strong’ is heavy on keyboards with a much more soulful vocal performance and ‘Across The Times’ will take you back to the eighties with its distinctive vibe from that era. All songs on the album are brand new, so this is not a retro album of re-recorded songs, but of songs written specifically for an era when AOR and rock was evolving.
The album is a pleasure to listen to, with ‘Riding The Ghost’ marching majestically on, ‘Light Before The Dark’ a perfect song to nod your head to and the keyboard led ‘Falling Star’ a soft rock epic that effortlessly breezes by. All the songs have been written by heavy metal artists…and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. No shredding guitars, galloping rhythms or any other trait associated with metal, this is an album of rock and AOR. ‘Breathing’ is a ballad to lift your lighters high in the air and wave your arms from side to side, ‘Yesterday Is Gone’ is melodic AOR straight out of the top drawer, with ‘Helen’ an epic power ballad with a superb vocal performance from Kiske, completely different from everything he did with Helloween. The album is brought to a close with the swaggering ‘Distant Skies’, the heaviest song on offer but still nowhere near the heavy metal genre. If you’re looking for something different, and not what you’d expect from a group of heavy metal musicians, then ‘Close To The Sun’ (the album) will fit the bill perfectly.
Overall, a superb collection of rock and AOR songs that will keep your feet tapping and head nodding in appreciation of a sound that evolved during the eighties.
Close To The Sun
Welcome To The Edge
Across The Times
Riding The Ghost
Light Before Dark
Yesterday Is Gone
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