Unisonic
Light of Dawn


3.5
great

Review

by Sevengill USER (2 Reviews)
August 26th, 2014 | 38 replies


Release Date: 09/09/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Unisonic continues to prove that it's more than just a reunion vehicle for power metal superstars Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen.

Unisonic is a strange sort of reunion. Three of its five members are from Pink Cream 69, three have ties to Helloween, two have played in Krokus and Khymera, two more in Gamma Ray, and the last member in Asia and Gotthard. If that math doesn’t add up, it’s because these guys just seem to end up playing together no matter how many bands they join and leave. Still, singer Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen are head-and-shoulders above most anyone else in the German metal scene for their work in the aforementioned Helloween and Gamma Ray, and are likewise the focal point of Unisonic. Founded in 2009, the project released its eponymous debut in 2012 to generally positive – and often rave – reviews. Surprisingly, Unisonic’s bassist Dennis Ward emerged as its main songwriter, penning lyrics and/or music for the majority of the debut with occasional contributions from the rest of the band.

Two years later, Ward is even more clearly the creative force behind Light of Dawn, taking full credit for two-thirds of the album. Hansen is nowhere to be found as far as writing, which is perhaps less surprising when considering that his baby Gamma Ray released its first LP in four years this past March. As a result, the overall sound of Light of Dawn is certainly not the power metal fans have come to associate with Unisonic’s celebrity members; for that matter, most of it’s not very metal at all. Things here feel most natural when rolling along at a moderate tempo, as evidenced by early highlights “Exceptional” and “Night of the Long Knives.” Kiske’s admitted aversion to singing metal is apparent in his performance throughout – only a few times does he strive for dramatic high notes, and even then, prominent (but tasteful) vocal overdubbing relegates them to supporting duty. He’s still got some serious pipes (and is almost certainly a better singer than he was in the 80’s with regards to pitch and timbre control), so there’s something to be said for his easygoing approach to much of the album.

Hinge pieces “Blood” and “When the Deed is Done” threaten to kill Light’s first-half momentum with tedious whole-note chords and kick-snare drum patterns, but therein lies a strength of Unisonic as a whole: even at its worst, the band has the effortless chemistry necessary to carry some otherwise-unremarkable songs. Drummer Kosta Zafiriou mostly plays exactly what you expect him to, which is much harder than it sounds when the material ranges from swing-beat ballads to syncopated double-kick grooves. Opening cut “Your Time Has Come” builds easily from mid-paced power-pop to a Sonata Arctica-esque anthem largely on the strength of its rhythm section. Ward, in particular, demonstrates a keen sense of throttle control as his bass lines grow in complexity and power throughout the song. “Exceptional” arrives hot on its heels with a killer four-on-the-floor groove equal parts “Turbo Lover” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”, while Hansen and Mandy Meyer’s juxtaposing Flanger-reverb guitar lines float hazily above. Kiske’s legato high notes fit in almost perfectly, while his lyrics add to the song’s delirious atmosphere.

I ask myself, is it real or just a dream?
Spot lights are shining in my eyes…
Power and eloquence enchanting all
Then I ask myself, has it only just begun?
I can be exceptional, sensational for you
And I could be acceptable, expendable to you
I can be exceptional, invincible for you
But I might be delusional…pretending, all I do.


Those waiting for something darker from Unisonic will likely be disappointed. Even the album’s harder-hitting song such as “For the Kingdom” and “Find Shelter” feature uplifting major-chord choruses, though (almost surprisingly) there’s nothing nauseatingly corny here. Fans of Gamma Ray have probably learned to dread that ballad that Hansen just loves to throw into otherwise rousing albums for no apparent reason, and Ward fares only slightly better with ending track “You and I” (why must lyricists continually use “I” in place of “me” when both are objects in the sentence?). “Manhunter” is another song with obvious but forgivable flaws, as it gets points for some sweet chord progressions but will have you singing Hall and Oates long before you remember the actual lyrics. With that said, Light of Dawn remains a generally cohesive album from start to almost-finish. At fifty-five minutes, there are couple tracks that could probably have been axed for a better overall package, but complaints about Light of Dawn generally remain isolated instances rather than critical flaws.

Unisonic seems to have found a comfortable ground between anthem rock and power metal on its sophomore effort. Whether that’s by happenstance or design, it has worked out excellently for this relatively new project of definitely not-new musicians, as other metal mainstays are increasingly trodden on by fresher acts (looking at you, Judas Priest). Unisonic is a project that probably needed to happen, what with all the Kiske-Hansen collaborations that have cropped up through the years, and the result so far has been a welcome change of pace for all involved. Unisonic is clearly capable of churning out songs with wide-ranging appeal as easily as material that satisfies its members’ longtime fans. Supergroups and reunions have a propensity to wallow in the past, so it’s great to hear Unisonic totally at ease grooving songs like “Exceptional." While the material certainly owes debts to other artists, there is an element of jubilance in the band’s music that is hard to find in projects of this nature. This one will likely grow on you, so make sure you pick it up if you’re a fan of anyone involved and spin it a number of times.


user ratings (22)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sevengill
August 25th 2014


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Comments and ratings are awesome and so are you.

Supercoolguy64
August 25th 2014


2253 Comments


nice review

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Sevengill
August 25th 2014


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks! I wish I'd done as much homework for school as I do on my reviews XD

JohnnyOnTheSpot
August 25th 2014


1674 Comments


This is a very good review

The third paragraph has some descriptions that would probably go over the heads of non-musicians though, but w/e. That's a pretty minor gripe

Easy pos. good job

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Sevengill
August 25th 2014


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

but Flanger reverb is the coolest :c

thanks Johnny ^-^

emester
August 26th 2014


4229 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Kai's voice is real showing is wear these days. Gonna check this

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Sevengill
August 26th 2014


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah, it's too bad. Kiske really picks it up though. let me know what you think!

Artuma
August 26th 2014


15467 Comments


good review pos'd but yikes everything that sounds even remotely like helloween

Sabrutin
August 26th 2014


1005 Comments


Good review, pos'd. I've heard "Your Time Has Come" and I like it, so I think I might check this out.

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TheBarber
August 26th 2014


2053 Comments


artwork reminds me of a video game follow-up to Siberia

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Tyrael
August 26th 2014


20946 Comments


Album feels like they tried really hard to make it grandiose but in the end it just ends up feeling awkward

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Sevengill
August 26th 2014


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

grandiose is a relative term when you're cousins with Avantasia.

Tyrael
August 26th 2014


20946 Comments


yeah true dat

Sabrutin
August 26th 2014


1005 Comments


"artwork reminds me of a video game follow-up to Siberia"

Haha well that ship really seems to be taken from that, it has the same aspect it would have had with the game's graphics.

Sevengill
August 26th 2014


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

holy crap I'm on the front page o____o wat

JohnnyOnTheSpot
August 26th 2014


1674 Comments


It's a new release and the review is great, so yeah. Well deserved tbh

Sabrutin
August 26th 2014


1005 Comments


Yeah, well done.

CaptainDooRight
August 26th 2014


30251 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

interesting

RunOfTheMill
August 26th 2014


1542 Comments


I had no idea these guys were releasing something so soon. Considering how disappointing their other LP was, this looks particularly refreshing

CaptainDooRight
August 26th 2014


30251 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

solid review, pos'd



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