KISKE SOMERVILLE – S/T (REVIEW)

Out Now – Frontiers Records
 
Michael Kiske is a great singer, no arguing that point. His performance on Helloween’s seminal “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” albums had him marked for greatness. It wasn’t to be, however. Kiske has gone on record time and again how he doesn’t want to make metal music and basically disappeared from the scene. He’s done some solo stuff and several guest performances on distinctly metallic projects. Not to mention his work with Place Vendome, a project he preferred not to refer to as metal. So how come this new album falls decidedly in the metal corner of the market? Money talks and bullshit walks I guess…

Opening track “Nothing Left To Say” wouldn’t be out of place on a Primal Fear album. Second track “Silence” is aimed squarely at the Evanescence/Within Temptation crowd, with those annoying contemporary keyboards and choppy guitar riffs that have been done to death in this genre. “If I Had A Wish” is a faux-Helloween track. Only lacking the power that made that band so enjoyable. And so it goes on. Primal Fear, Helloween, Epica and After Forever all alternate with varying degrees of success. You can’t help but feel this album has been put together after a marketing study to determine what the present day metal fan expects. “Rain” is a particularly insipid song.

Both singers are a cut above average, even if Kiske has lost some of his mojo over the years. Unfortunately I find their voices don’t mesh together particularly well. Production and execution are both solid if not particularly inspired.

A formulaic and bland album. Faceless and lacking excitement.

Rating – 60%
Review by Sancho
 

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ISSA – SIGN OF ANGELS (REVIEW)

Out Now – Frontiers Records
 
Frontiers can’t find enough superlatives for Issa it seems. You’d be forgiven for thinking she’s the best thing to come along since not only sliced bread but warm water as well.

There’s no denying we’re dealing with a young lady who is quite easy on the eyes. One who’s blessed with a decent (if not exceptional) set of pipes, even. But there’s a vibe of Britney-goes-metal about the whole promotion that doesn’t sit well with me.

Frontiers drummed up a solid backing band and got some outside songwriting help. Inspiration can’t be bought however and, much like on the Kiske/Somerville release, we’re left with an album that reeks of day job tedium.

Most of the songs will leave you wondering “where have I heard this before”.
Understandably so. You get the expected mishmash of “female fronted metal” (what a horrible term), contemporary Scandinavian metal and some AOR thrown in for good measure.

Is it bad? Not really. It’s hard to find fault with the performances on offer, even if Issa’s voice gets quite nasal at times. There’s even several quite catchy choruses. But there is no sense of excitement, no thrill. This album really has an unpleasant whiff of pre-packaged product about it. Like the winner of a “Metal Idol” contest… If that doesn’t bother you feel free to add at least ten points to my rating.

Rating – 68%
Review by Sancho