Kiske / Somerville - City of Heroes

Kiske / Somerville City of Heroes cover
Kiske / Somerville
City of Heroes
Frontiers Music Srl
With quite a few years having passed from the debut release between this collaboration, a second chapter between the project of vocalists Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic, Place Vendome) and Amanda Somerville (Trillium, Avantasia).
As ever, the album seems to have been written by one of Frontiers residents “producer/songwriters”
Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner) and Magnus Karlsson (Starbreaker, Primal Fear), who also play all the instruments and an additional track “Breaking Neptune” contributed from Sander Gommans formerly of After Forever and Amanda Somerville’s solo band. Sinner also helped record the album and Jacob Hansel the famous producer did handle the mix.
Amanda Sommervile, is an American singer-songwriter from Flint, Michigan whose catalog of projects, guest appearances and live shows garnered to date is an impressive body of work. She has co-written the metal opera “Aina” and has also been a vocalist, songwriter, producer and / or vocal coach for many bands like Avantasia, Epica and Kamelot, giving her more credibility in metal circles than she ever bargained for.
Michael Kiske, what needs to be said, about the former lead vocalist for the German power metal Gods Helloween. After his departure from the band, Kiske recorded four solo albums, participated on various metal and rock related projects, such as Place Vendome and he also performed with numerous bands as a guest vocalist. In late 2009, he formed the hard rock/heavy metal band Unisonic and began touring again after 17 years.
Even this sort of “cookie cutter” material, coming from the “resident producers”, seems to be pretty good, in the case of projects, like these. The performances of the protagonists are beyond critique, really, with both of them being in great vocal form.
“City of Heroes” is a bombastic and straight out rocker and “Walk on Water” which is more soft and symphonic have video-clips and are among the strongest entries on the album.
The quality rarely dips below a certain standard “Rising Up” is a more modernized rocker, with nice, urgent melodies and a perfect interplay between the two singers.
“Salvation” is a lot more dramatic, but has rather predictable melodic power melodies, that might tire some listeners slightly…
“Lights Out” is a bit like “Rising Up” but a bit more up-tempo and has stronger more focal, vocal performances.
“Breaking Neptune” is more moderate in tempo and has these rather typical verses that don’t help it too much.
“Ocean of Tears” is a very typical “duet” ballad, and it’s one of the better songs on the album as it’s vastly different to most of them in terms of orchestration. Quite predictably, it switches from strings to a fuller orchestration – that still doesn’t cancel them out a little before the third minute mark.
“Open Your Eyes” recycles the power metal style, but apart from its bridge and chorus, it’s so typically power metal in a very standard tempo, that it doesn’t win any points for that banality.
“Last Goodbye” is a similar exercise, but it’s somewhat more hard rock intro and more inspired melodies seem to help it quite significantly, to not be as predictable as its predecessor.
“After the Night is Over” is part ballad, part big orchestral (keyboard really) number, that works out being quite OK, but owes its salvation mostly to the good performances from the two singers.
“Run with a Dream” feels like decent but predictable power metal with generous douses of melody and last but not least “Right Now” is another hybrid, that has a rather feelgood feeling about it, with its optimistic chorus and all.
Possibly a more “consistent” album than the project’s debut and quite consistent in quality terms, it’s a very good album, but it’s not a “great” album. Both people have been involved on a lot more inspired projects and while “City of Heroes” doesn’t mar their reputation, not at all, I don’t think it will end up being an album that people will remember for a long-long time. Its flawless performances really help the album a lot, but the somewhat generic feeling and tailor made songwriting, don’t allow the personality of the performers to filter through, which is somewhat of a pity. Still quite a good effort, which fans of the musicians involved, would probably want to check out.