Power of music...
Genre: melodic hard rock
I haven't really listened to anything by Michael Kiske since he was in Helloween. Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 and Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 2 are among my all time favorite albums, and Michael Kiske's phenomenal vocals plays no small part in this. So, obviously I was quite excited to hear Thunder in the Distance by Place Vendome – a melodic hard rock project featuring Michael Kiske and Dennis Ward.
Thunder in the Distance is the band's third album, and, although it obviously sounds nothing like Helloween (why should it?), I was quite positvely surprised. Musically, we are dealing with pretty straightforward melodic hard rock. There is a good dose of 80s AOR on the album, combined with a metallic edge and loads of catchiness. The obligatory keyboards are there, and sometimes it sounds like they have deliberately been given a a retro 80s sound – as in the intro of the title track. The melodic hooklines are delivered impressively by Michael Kiske's soaring voice.
Kiske's singing is impressive, but there are plenty of times where I can hardly recognize his voice. It has a darker timbre to it than in the Helloween days, and he make more use of vibrato, but at the same time his performance is generally more laxed. Now, it is not because I want to compare and evaluate Vendome Place to Helloween, but, given that I have not really listened to any of Kiske's post-Helloween projects, I obviously have not observed the development of his singing style. Anyway, his voice perfectly carries the vocal melodies, and is an integral part of Vendome Place's sound.
Thunder in the Distance is characterized by a clean and pristine sound as well as impeccable musicianship across the board. The listener is treated primarily to uplifting AOR-driven hard rock, but there are darker and more melancholic elements as well. If you like quality melodc hard rock with AOR elements and a metallic edge – and outstanding vocals – then you should definitely check out this album.
(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)