Album Review: UNISONIC Light of Dawn
Most of you Metal Injection readers probably fancy yourselves too cool to partake in the sonic triumph of power metal. The sub-genre has never been popular here in the States, and many headbangers view power metal as repellently cheesy. But there's no shame in the power metal game. Sometimes it's good to relax with a beer and crank some gloriously anthemic tunes about wizards soaring on the wings of eagles or space battles. For those with a sufficiently complex metal palette and no self-consciousness, power metal is a supremely entertaining style of metal and 2014 has been great to fans so far. Edguy, Freedom Call, Iron Savior, Sonata Arctica, Gamma Ray, and Sabaton have all released good-to-great albums, and German power metal super group Unisonic are continuing the streak with their sophomore offering Light of Dawn.
Unisonic features former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen who, prior to 2011, hadn't worked together since the band's landmark Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 was released in 1988. Both men are fixtures of the international power metal community, and Hansen has been especially important to the development of the style, having been a founding member of Helloween and Gamma Ray. Although Unisonic is a relatively young band, the presence of scene veterans Kiske and Hansen imparts the band with a certain level of gravitas even if the music on Light of Dawn isn't quite up to the standards of either man's other material.
The album starts of on the right foot. After the seemingly obligatory instrumental opening track, Unisonic comes out with guns blazing on "Find Shelter". This is one of the strongest tracks on the album and it will immediately have heads banging and fist pumping with its infectiously upbeat melody. But, after getting the listener's heart racing, the band inexplicably puts the breaks on with back-to-back power ballads. "You and I" and "When the Deed Is Done" are both well written songs in their own right, but it's odd that the band would choose to follow the hard charging "Find Shelter" with ten minutes of balladry. It would have made more sense from a sequencing standpoint to use these two slow songs in addition to the other slow track, "Blood", to break the album up into thirds and give the listener a chance to catch his or her breath. But this is the 21st century and it's easy enough to skip over tracks or rearrange the song sequence yourself.
Aside from the minor sequencing gripe, there's not much to complain about on Light of Dawn. Some tracks sound a little too formulaic, but there are enough gems here to hold your attention. The cocky swagger of Kai Hansen's guitar compliments Michael Kiske's lyrics nicely on "Not Gonna Take Anymore", while the full bore guitar shredding on "For the Kingdom" and "Your Time Has Come" will make you want to punch a dragon in the head. Light of Dawn is a pleasingly high energy album from beginning to end. It certainly has its weaknesses, but fans of power and speed metal will want to give the album at least a once over on Spotify, but a blind purchase shouldn't be completely out of the question either.
Light of Dawn will see the light of day in the States on August 12th via earMUSIC. The album will be available in multiple formats and editions so there will be options for completest nerds as well as minimalists. Start saving up your pennies now, kids… this is one of the better power metal releases of the year.