Released: April 17th, 2015
Released By: Frontier Records
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Melodic Rock
Michael Kiske – Vocals
Amanda Somerville – Vocals
Magnus Karlsson – Guitar, Keyboards
Veronika Lukesova – Drums
Mat Sinner – Bass, Backing Vocals
1.o City of Heroes
2.0 Walk on Water
3.0 Rising Up
5.0 Lights Out
6.0 Breaking Neptune
7.0 Ocean of Tears
8.0 Open Your Eyes
9.0 Last Goodbye
10.0 After the Night is Over
11.0 Run with a Dream
12.0 Right Now
When the first Kiske/Somerville album was released in 2010, the album received good acclaim by both fans and the press. So, the question was: would there be a follow-up? Amid lots of speculation, everyone was hoping that there would be a follow-up to their first album. Michael Kiske and producer Mat Sinner mentioned to me in 2013 that a new Kiske/Somerville record is on the way and it would be great. Then two years went by and now “City Of Heroes” will finally hit the stores on April 17th. Can this album meet the high expectations created by the first album?
Five years is a long time and much can change during this period of time. Especially within various musical genres, those genres popular five years ago and may not be popular today. Luckily not much has changed in the Kiske/Somerville camp and lived true to the saying: “never change a winning team”. On “City Of Heroes” you won’t find any experiments. Mat Sinner whom produced the first record remained to produce the “City Of Heroes” album. Being part of the band contributed greatly in providing continuity between the new and old albums. Many of you will be excited to hear that Magnus Karlsson is back as well – and I can tell you one thing; he delivers once more! Everybody who missed Magnus on the latest Allen/Lande record will be pleased with his appearance on the new Kiske/Somerville. His songwriting skills will be easily recognizable as well as his always excellent guitar work!
Mat Sinner and Magnus Karlsson wrote most of the tracks and the tracks appear to be a symbiosis between Melodic Metal with some symphonic elements, some Hard Rock here and there and a the choruses having a Pop. Which, this time around makes the songs catchier and more energetic. I think it has been done to focus on the two vocalists talents and their harmonies. Which makes them simply sound perfect together. Amanda has an outstanding recognizable and warm voice and she is always present on this album. I don’t need to say that much about Michael Kiske, because everybody knows what his vocal cords are capable of, although I must admit that it feels like there is a bit more focus on Amanda this time – you notice this especially when the choruses kick in.
Like I have said, the record is full of catchy tunes. Some of them are true Melodic Metal jewels. Let me point out some highlights: it all starts with the fantastic title track “City Of Heroes”. This track combines all the strengths of the band in this ambitious project. It’s melodic and it rocks! The next highlight follows with “Walk On Water” – this is another earworm I can’t get out of my head. With “Rising Up” it becomes a bit heavier, with a very 80’s influenced Hard Rock. “Salvation” shows a more atmospheric side and is another winner. “Lights Out” is one hell of a track where you definitely can clearly hear the distinct influences of Magnus Karlsson. This track could have easily been from the first Allen/Lande album – perfect! Another absolutely killer track (and my personal favorite of this album) is “Open Your Eyes”. This tune has the word “HIT” written all over it. The amazing guitar lines of Karlsson and the infectious chorus make this track to one of the best songs I’ve heard so far this year. It’s hard to beat this tune, but “Run With A Dream” comes very close to doing just that. This tune is another rocker that is catchy as hell and makes you sing along for days.
There are just many highlights on this one album with the rest of the tracks doing a great job complementing many great tracks. It is hard to spot any filler tracks on this album, but the remaining tracks do contain some very cheesy lyrics. Which keeps these tracks from living up to some excellent tracks that clearly are on a very high level.
Production wise, the album was perfectly arranged. This is because Mat Sinner was involved with the production as well as the famous producer; Jacob Hansen (Vollbeat, Pretty Maids, Primal Fear) whom took care with the mix. Keyboards are more present this time, which perfectly compliments the loud guitars and the tight rhythm section. This album with its crisp production makes for one hell of an album.
Finally, I just can say that all musicians, whom were involved in this project, have outdone themselves. I’m always skeptical when it comes to follow-up projects, because there are too bands whom put follow-up albums on the market that are just mere money spinners with no soul or depth. This is not the case with “City Of Heroes” – it is a passionate, catchy and rocking album from start to finish. It combines excellent songwriting with a top-notch production and vocals to die for. “City Of Heroes” has certainly topped the debut album and I can just say: it was worth the wait! Hopefully we don’t have to wait another five years for a third effort!
Written by: Thomas Schwarzkopf
Ratings: Thomas 9/10