Length: 53 minutes
I’m just a singer in a
heavy metalrock and roll band.
Michael Kiske is one of the best heavy metal vocalists in the history of music. But don’t tell him I said that. After his groundbreaking stint in HELLOWEEN in the late 80s and early 90s Kiske shifted gears, going all-rock. Guesting on a couple of metal albums here and there, he primarily left heavy metal. For good?–hope not.
This 2010 album with future-TRILLIUM vocalist Amanda Somerville is no exception, a rock album through and through. At least they aren’t performing country!
Duet albums either work, like ALLEN/LANDE, or they don’t. It doesn’t depend as much on the individual talent of the singers, but more how they work off of each other and sound together. Even though most soft-rock albums with a female/male duo are stereotypical nightmares of kitsch, ‘Kiske/Somerville’ is a sold piece of work with some great vocal interplay and songwriting.
This project was was a duo conception from the start. Mat Sinner (Bass) and Magnus Karlsson (Guitar) of the Metal band PRIMAL FEAR brought guitarist Sander Gommans, Somerville, and eventually Kiske into this production. Metal veteran Sinner acted as both producer and principle songwriter for the album.
The tracks are a solid mix of softer ballad driven Rock and some near-Metal Rock. The opener “Nothing Left to Say” is a heavier Pop-Metal track, a great show of these vocalist’s talent and emotion. Kiske provides another great chorus–this guy has awesome and a very distinctive technique.
“Silence” and “If I Had a Wish” are competent(and forgettable) ballads, with decent vocals and some nice guitar-work. “End of The Road” is better, with a soulful, soft vocal intro and exceptional new-age type keyboard/guitar harmonizing.
“Don’t Walk Away” storms back, a Journey-style Arena ballad. One of the better examples of alternating female/male vocals. Somerville is not as strong as Kiske, period. But this track and a few others allows her voice to shine through. Oddly much of Somerville’s mid-toned singing is LOWER than that of Kiske’s;)
The next track “A Thousand Suns” is Somerville’s best performance here, giving us a taste of her less-used soprano, with Kiske used only as support.
I can’t get over that it’s been over twenty years since Kiske recorded ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’ with HELLOWEEN. His voice seems to have actually improved with age, and his 4-octave range hasn’t suffered a bit (at least to my untrained ears). Sommerville is ten years Kiske’s junior but you’d never hear it here.
“Rain” and “One Night Burning” are both reflective and quite beautiful tracks, simple no-frills pop-rock with just enough flash to keep it interesting. Nicely hummable melodies with great choruses.
Prior to KISKE/SOMERVILLE, Amanda Somerville was only known to me from her guest stint on Tobias Sammet’s AVANTASIA 2007 album ‘The Scarecrow’ on one of the best Pop-Metal tracks all-time “What Kind of Love”. And she doesn’t disappoint, even if nothing on ‘Kiske/Somerville’ utilizes her voice as well as that song did.
The only “real” metal track ends the album with the bonus “Set A Fire”. A forceful song, that completely obliterates the previous “touchy-feely” aspects of this album. “Fire” shows us why Michael Kiske needs to sing metal, as does Somerville. Kiske returned in 2012 with fellow HELLOWEEN alumnus Kai Hansen in a collaborative Hard Rock/Metal band UNISONIC. And Amanda Somerville would give us a metal album with her band TRILLIUM in 2011.
As a one-off project ‘Kiske/Somerville’ works. I think they would have to get heavier for any future(?) collaborations. Enough with the ballads, we know you both can sing;) This album has a couple of really great tracks, some beautiful ballads, and almost no filler. Give it a shot if you like radio friendly(at least 1980s radio friendly) pop-rock.