I'm a fan of the self-titled debut album by Unisonic which was released last year; not sure if you've heard it yet, but it's a good 'un! So here I am listening to the third studio album by these guys which as it happens features the talents of Dennis Ward (bass, vocals and rhythm guitar) and Michael Kiske (vocals).
Another odd coincidence is that I was conducting an interview recently with the bassist of a band called Eden's Curse and good ol' Dennis Ward's name came up during our exchange. He produced the 'Symphony Of Sin' album as it happens and is someone to keep an eye on.
Right then, smooth production values and slick execution are the order of the day as 'Thunder In The Distance' seduces the senses. Kiske possesses a distinctive voice which constantly reminds me of the Helloween classic 'The Keeper Of The Seven Keys – Part II,' but once you get round that annoyance you sink into the sounds and style on this album like it's your favourite sofa.
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Maybe the Frontiers Records' President Serafino Perugino knew what he was doing after all when he proposed this musical concept? The debut was unleashed back in 2004 with their second album called 'Streets of Fire' surfacing in 2008. The same premise applies with this album as it did with their second, and that's all about bringing in song-writing talent to serve up the material for the band to play and sing.
It's certainly no Metal style or Hard Rock approach as with previous musical outings associated with Kiske, but this is very good. Thirteen Melodic Rock tracks later and you're feeling like this candyfloss simply melted in your mouth. It's difficult to remove this CD from my player; 'Thunder In The Distance' is a great companion.
Introducing the listener to the opening strings and gentle intent of 'Talk To Me', there's a confidence on show. Backing vocals swoop in and out as the guitar soaks up the ambience of sound that swirls all around it. 'Power Of Music' abruptly demands attention and there's a lyric video online if and when you have the time.
We're two songs in to this album and you notice how the huge soaring choruses bring the songs alive, like on 'Broken Wings' and 'My Heart Is Dying'. The only criticism that could feasibly be aimed at 'Thunder In The Distance' is how the songs are so rich like your favourite chocolate bar, and after a while you may feel a little queasy! But then again, if you like hook-laden lashings of lushly produced Melodic Rock (try saying that after numerous pints of your favourite beverage), then you'll be adding this album to your Christmas wish list!
Fifth track 'It Can't Rain Forever' is a pleasant change of pace with a moody prominent keyboard display thanks to Gunter Werno. The chorus is instant and holds the sentiment well. There are many highlights really and it pains me to say it.
To summarise, if you're a fan of smooth Melodic Rock with catchy choruses and a good calibre of musicianship, this is worthy of your time. On the other hand, if you're hoping for something like Helloween then give it a listen anyways, but you may find yourself turning up your nose despite the odd punchy moment like on part of 'Fragile Ground' and the driven 'Never Too Late'.
Michael Kiske – Lead Vocals
Dennis Ward – Bass, vocals, rhythm guitars
Dirk Bruineberg– Drums
Gunter Werno – Keyboards
Uwe Reitenauer – Lead guitars
Mixed and produced by Dennis Ward
1. Talk To Me
2. Power Of Music
3. Broken Wings
4. Lost In Paradise
5. It Can't Rain Forever
6. Fragile Ground
7. Hold Your Love
8. Never Too Late
9. Heaven Lost
10. My Heart Is Dying
11. Break Out
12. Maybe Tomorrow
13. Thunder In The Distance