City of Heroes
Length: 55 minutes
Two of Rock’s best vocalists reunite.
Coming off the stand-out Hard Rock début of KISKE/SOMERVILLE we now get the even stronger, heavier follow up 2015’s ‘City of Heroes’. A duet of Rock/Metal vocalist extraordinaire Michael Kiske and TRILLIUM vocalist Amanda Somerville. A damn fine Rock album for 2015. Triumphant, melodic, and addictive.
PRIMAL FEAR members Mat Sinner (Bass) and Magnus Karlson (Guitars and Keys) once again handle the songwriting. With Sinner and Jacob Hansen producing and Veronika Lukešová on the Drums. A plethora of experience and talent put to very good use.
Karlson/Sinner expand upon everything from the début and Karlson’s comparable contributions to ALLEN/LANDE’s first three albums. The melodies are more engaging and the performances more impassioned.
It’s hard to stand apart in this well tread-upon male/female duet cliché. But, the themes here (mostly) stay away from sappy love songs, allowing both vocalists to stand firmly on Rock anthem ground. Their Power voices complement each other well.
Twelve reliable songs expounding common themes of overcoming obstacles, following dreams, conquering fears, etc… If you’re looking for profound, look elsewhere. However, the musicianship/singing are glorious and the hooks and melodies bury deep. Total traditional Hard Rock fare. If it makes you feel better you can call it Power Metal–but, you’d be deluding yourself.
Unfortunately there is some plain vanilla swirled in with the emerging, cultivated Rock jewels. Lead-off “City of Heroes” is superhero appropriate rousing Metallic. While, “Walk on Water” embraces a subdued, sweet keyboard melody.
Kiske gets a decent work out on all the tracks. Somerville shines brightest on “Salvation” and album highlight, the stirring, ear-worm kick ass “Open Your Eyes”. “Lights Out”, “Run With a Dream”, and closer “Right Now” are solid Rock tunes. “Breaking Neptune” hints at NIGHTWISH with its mythical motif and Prog tonal shifts.
This collection doesn’t push far into true Metal territories. I know many want Michael Kiske to return to his so-called Metal roots, but, I feel he’s always been a Rock vocalist at heart. Amanda Somerville’s more established stylings help balance out Kiske’s extravagant flash. And, again in a strange gender role-reversal Somerville’s alto appears slightly lower than Kiske’s four octave range tenor:O Two highly technical vocalists who make the best of their tremendous skills.
It’s all somewhat marred, like their 2010 s/t release, by playing it overly safe. Thankfully, this time the songs are sharper and the entire album more balanced. With at least three tracks graduating to instant playlist favorites of mine.
So if you value talent and extraordinary vocal skill you could do much worse than KISKE/SOMERVILLE’s ‘City of Heroes’–much worse. Looking forward to more from this duo. A no-frills Hard Rock album that’s easily Recommended.