Album Review: Kiske/Somerville – City of Heroes

Cityofheroes-coverHave you ever wondered what would happen if you combined one of the top male singers in the business with one of the top female singers? Kiske/Somerville is what happens. The project has just released their second album, City of Heroes, and if you are in any way a fan of duets, you need this in your collection.

One of the earliest impressions you get is that no one has told Michael Kiske that people tend to lose some of their singing ability as they age. His unique voice sounds as fresh as ever and when Amanda Somerville kicks in you know it’s a perfect match. We’ve heard them together with Avantasia but this is the first time we get a proper example of their strength together.

Kiske/Somerville sound like a band who have been together for much more than their two albums, but with the two touring together with Avantasia they technically have. While you do end up half expecting Bob Catley to appear mid-verse sometimes, you’re glad for the opportunity to hear these two musicians work together.

With names such as Somerville and Kiske involved, it would be easy to overlook other members and that would be a great injustice. Magnus Karlsson and Mat Sinner are responsible for the majority of the songs you hear and no matter how good a vocalist you have, it counts for nothing if the music itself isn’t strong. You also have to remember Veronika Lukesova who provides a solid performance on drums throughout.

The music as you might have guessed by now is strong. Most of the songs follow the mini-epic approach, but instead of being ten minutes long, they’re packaged into four to five minute tracks. The second track, Walk on Water is a perfect example of that. It’s only about four minutes yet has the feel of a long marathon of a song.

Tracks like City of Heroes and Rising Up have enough meat behind them to pull in the power metal fans checking out what Kiske and co are up to while the more melodic tracks will drag in the AOR fans and no doubt everyone will meet somewhere in the middle. The choruses end up being stupidly uplifting while the solos, especially the harmonised solos such as in Breaking Neptune, will satisfy the guitar playing fans.

It’s hard to explain the sound to someone who hasn’t heard it. It’s most definitely not Helloween for Kiske fans, and it’s definitely not Trillium for you Somerville fans. The best way to describe it for someone who knows these musicians is that it’s like Magnum met later era Avantasia. That or just say it sounds fucking glorious while often bordering on a cheese factory, but what’s metal without the cheese?

While it was really just the previous Sammet excursions that made the idea of Kiske and Somerville collaborating appealing in my head, listening to this makes me want to kick myself for not listening to the debut album sooner. Despite being almost an hour long, it doesn’t go on too long.

The danger of melodic metal/rock is that you can get rooted in one sound but City of Heroes is a changeable beast. One minute you’re listening to a ballad like Ocean of Tears, the next it’s a wave of upbeat twin harmony guitars like in Open Your Eyes (Open Your Eyes being my song of the album, the twin harmonies, the twin vocals, the happy vocal melodies, it’s everything I look for in a melodic metal tune.)

I don’t know what I was expecting coming into this, but I’m leaving happy. The album is out now and with a wealth of influences it should appeal to a wide range of fans, if you haven’t done so give it a shot, it’s worth a play.

4/5

4/5

City of Heroes is out now via Frontier Records, click here to find out more

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