Unisonic – “Light of Dawn” Review

The History:

The roots of Unisonic go back to 1987 or so; a time when Helloween was a relatively new yet mighty force in the world of heavy metal. Amongst Helloween’s ranks was an innovator (and arguably one of the pioneers) of power metal…co-guitarist Kai Hansen. Hansen performed vocal duties on the first Helloween album 1985’s Walls of Jericho (as he does today in his own band Gamma Ray) until a young Michael Kiske was recruited in 1987 to take over as lead vocalist. Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 1 was released shortly thereafter.  Helloween’s initial success owed a great debt to Hansen’s dominant fretwork but it owed at least as much to the vocal talents of it’s then fresh-out-of-teenage singer Kiske as well.  Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. II followed the next year with it’s successful singles Dr.Stein and I Want Out.  The latter’s video received frequent Headbanger’s Ball rotation and is likely the band’s most well-known track to date.

Kai Hansen quit Helloween sometime after the tour for Keeper II and Michael would be asked to leave a few years later. (He was replaced by vocalist Andi Deris who remains in Helloween and is doing an admirable job to this day.)  Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. II, probably Helloween’s defining work, would be the last time Hansen and Kiske would collaborate. Until…

unisonic

The Reunion:

…2011.  Two years in the making, Unisonic consists of Michael Kiske, Mandy Meyer (guitars,) Dennis Ward (songwriter/bassist,) and Kosta Zafiriou (drums.) They are now joined by Michael’s old friend Kai and they release their self-titled debut in 2012.  Longtime Helloween-fanboy JAG squeals like a little girl at a Justin Bieber show when he hears these two together once again after all these years.

The Light of Dawn:

Released on August 1st,  and produced by primary songwriter/bassist Dennis Ward, Light of Dawn fulfills the promise that was a little more than hinted at on the debut.

After a short classical-type prelude (Venite 2.0) the album kicks off with a very inspired and exceedingly uplifting anthem in Your Time Has Come.  This is not the type of lyricism to be found in the death or doom sub-genres of metal; it is rather what good power metal should always aspire to be: empowering. No cliched swords in the wind or hammers held high; what’s offered instead is some motivation and edification for the Right Here & Now.  The downtrodden and defeated are implored to

“Find a place to dwell, some place to free your soul…far away from home, take rest to clear your mind, don’t be patronized or agonized there’s only one way up to climb…”

The single Exceptional follows and the ever-talented Michael Kiske has never sounded better. (This is the man who should have temporarily replaced Bruce Dickinson and not that turd Blaze Bayley.) Michi’s voice is in finest form and he can sing circles around anyone…half his age or not. Period. As much as I love Helloween (and Andi Deris is really good in his own right) Unisonic has now risen far above even their best work in my opinion. Again: it’s not that Helloween’s best is not great but that Unisonic is just that good. The songwriting, much of which is attributed to bassist Dennis Ward, is itself exceptional.

There is not one bad song on this whole album. In fact they just keep getting better and better until the sixth track Night of the Long Knives. …so impossibly great that they could be totally forgiven for using filler for the rest of the album. Happily they do not.

Instead of dissecting every song in detail I implore you to check out the album as a whole because Light of Dawn is the greatest thing I’ve heard all year. (Admittedly there’s been little decent competition in any heavy genre but I digress.)  You can stream Light of Dawn in its entirety as a Spotify Premium subscriber. If you like what you’ve heard please pick up the double LP or the CD. The CD is available for like twelve bucks on Amazon in the States and probably has even wider distribution in the UK/EU, Australia, and the rest of the world.

The Preach:

For those amongst you who think the much-older-than-you-term “metal” now only defines that which is extreme and unsafe: you’ll likely find nothing unconventional, abrasive, or challenging enough for you on this album. Just head on back to Bandcamp and/or get back to your regularly-scheduled Nails or Pig Destroyer album. Nothing to see here but the very best in good traditional power metal (sans the cheese,) with well-crafted songs, vocal melodies, and good guitar solos. …and plenty of uplifting messages in the lyrics.  I believe we all could use a bit of positivity in our metal from time to time. I often turn to music to bring a bit of happiness when needed instead of only raging to growled lyrics based on some fictitious brutality.  There’s a place for all of it but I wouldn’t just watch horror movies either. Consider it…

The Verdict:

There will be no flushes for Light of Dawn because it’s a thoroughly enjoyable listen and a near-masterpiece. If we here at the Toilet Ov Hell had a normal grading-scale (haha) it would easily be a 9.5/10.  The album closes on a ballad with a familiar but needed message:

…now please form a a single-file line and leave my yard in an orderly manner.

Band photo courtesy of mandymeyer.ch

Logo courtesy of oktoberpromotion.com

Written by:

Published on: September 25, 2014

Filled Under: Metal, New Stuff, Reviews, Uncategorized

Views: 2284

Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • Doctor Dickless

    Oh, it’s power metal…

  • Howard Dean
  • Mr.CustodialArts

    But Jay…does it top THIS? REALLY?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYsW9aWxa6E

    • Howard Dean

      Exodus? Byaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!! Is this the place to share classic Exodus songs?!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq4guCLqoMA

    • Cock ov Steele

      Nothin tops Cajun Hell

      • Mr.CustodialArts

        Everybody got so excited seeing EXODUS that they didn’t notice I linked the piece of fucking garbage WAR cover. WHOOPSIE!

        • NDNOvHell

          I don’t mind it. Holt and Hunolt still shred in that song!

        • Cock ov Steele

          Tbh, I don’t mind that cover.

    • I wore that cassette out back when it was released. …but I don’t think it was AotY. Light of Dawn very probably will be on my list.

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      The new exodus looks to be as good as tempo, i haven’t listened to any of the dukes stuff, i just can’t stand his whole delivery and voice. Hopefully it will be as good as WM but anthrax set the bar pretty high with that one.

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    When I started the first video
    I had flashback from the radio,
    for the baldness and shades
    that brought horrors for days,
    for I feared I was watching Pitbull.

  • Beunhaas

    0,25 flushes! Good review Jay. Judging by the first song posted I’ll like it a lot.

  • Edward Meehan

    I’m not really hip to this band but I give this review 0 / 5 flushes, it made me interested in something I know next to nothing about.

    • Edward Meehan

      JAG I have to say, though, I’m not that young but

      Nails >>>>>>>>

      • Metal>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      • I can listen to stuff like Nails…I just have to be in the right mood for it. “Extreme” is an occasional thing for me. I really enjoyed the last Napalm Death and Cattle Decap albums.

        …most of the time these days I just want to hear powerful songs that stick in my head though.

        • did u hear the new machine head song that dropped today?

          • I currently have it on repeat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI_NEGD4tb0

          • Doctor Dickless

            This is not meant for my ears!

          • u scared brah?

          • Doctor Dickless

            No, I just don’t like this. A shocker, right?

          • No, not really lol.

          • Doctor Dickless

            It was a joke.

          • Yes, it was so funny that I forgot to laugh

          • Doctor Dickless

            I thought that you would be at least a bit nicer towards me after I helped you on that cattle decapitation argument.

          • You know I love you, it’s all in good fun.

          • Doctor Dickless

            This seems a love/hate relationship.

          • I’ve been nice to u for a while now lol.

          • Doctor Dickless

            I love you more than I hate you. You fired me

          • That was a shitty job though wasn’t it?

          • Doctor Dickless

            I liked it. It was good for my negative personality.

          • U want it back?

          • Doctor Dickless

            I would like it back and I would thank you for giving it back.

          • This saga is gripping, fellas…

            GL

          • Doctor Dickless

            (Don’t let me break the 4th wall! Oh shit..)

          • <3

          • Beunhaas

            I fucking love Machine Head. I didn’t know they had a new song, Thanks Jack!

          • Me Too! You’re welcome!

          • W.

            me too, mate.

          • Beunhaas

            Good to know I’m not only one.

          • No. Not a huge fan of anything MH did after Burn My Eyes. I’m listening to it now and it actually sounds pretty good.

          • The violin is a nice touch.

          • W.

            Good

          • wish i didn’t

          • 🙁

        • Edward Meehan

          I very recently got hip to Cattle Decapitation (like, within weeks or months) and I wasn’t sure how I had missed them up to that point because I had heard of them many times by name and I dig that kind of music. I did feel a little odd, though, because of their stance about animals and eating meat. That’s weird, because I was recently listening to Seeds of Iblis and made no connection to their message I just dug the music.

          • What’s funny about cattle decap is that I hated them until Monolith dropped. Now I like all their stuff and with each album you can see the little changes from album to album that would lead them to making one of the best albums ever.

          • Edward Meehan

            I guess half the band aren’t even vegans now.

          • Doctor Dickless

            The argument will continue once W gets here.

          • W.

            No, I’m too busy basking in the glory of power metal.

          • Doctor Dickless

            Oh…

          • After you’ve spun this one too many times check out the new Primal Fear album “Delivering the Black.” A bit heavier and a little more Judas Priesty.

          • harvest floor is good too, that’s when they started getting progressive grind-y

        • Tyree

          I’m really looking forward to the new Napalm Death album!

      • LYNCHMOB>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> and
        DOKKEN >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

        GL

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          i love ya, but don’t ever make another smoke this again.

  • This is a phenomenal review JAG. I’m not big on the music itself, but a great article nonetheless.

    • Thanks, man. You gave it a try and that’s all I can ask for. We all have our own tastes 🙂

  • Tyree

    Rock n Roll!!!! That ballad has gotten me all misty Jay.
    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m5dqceBl441qcwic6.gif

    • Edward Meehan

      How come my .gifs never work on here? We must get to the bottom of this.

      • Tyree

        Troubleshoot that shit man!

        • Edward Meehan

          We are in for a wild ride.

      • IronLawnmower

        works fine 2 me lol.

      • Doctor Dickless

        I have never been able to post working gifs here. Maybe I’m just too dumb.

        • Edward Meehan

          Then we are in it together, not getting jokes or posting working .gifs.

          • Doctor Dickless

            We should start a club.

        • Edward Meehan

          Xan answered our mystery!

          • Doctor Dickless

            Dammit, now we can’t start the club.

          • Edward Meehan

            We can, the “we don’t get jokes on the internet club”

            or

            “we can’t detect sarcasm club”.

          • Doctor Dickless

            I can detect sarcasm in real life. It’s pretty fucking hard to do that from a comment on the internet.

          • Edward Meehan

            I can as well, lol.

          • MURMAIDER MURMAIDER MURMAIDER MURMAIDER!

            Get it?

            GL

          • Doctor Dickless

            It continues…

      • Xan

        For me, they only work when I link them from a website. If I just upload it from my PC then they don’t work.

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      Is this from the classic little dancin’ man ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx5Eotio26U hilarious.

  • IronLawnmower

    power metal is gay lol

    jk

    or am i

    nah im jk nise refiew

    Brings me pleasure 2 reed.

    Christian Weston Chandler.

    • Doctor Dickless

      Have you been drinking again?

      • IronLawnmower

        Maybe

        Maybe not

        I like dorios

        • Doctor Dickless

          Did you take one heroin?

          • IronLawnmower

            I smoked 5 marawnas

            lol :3

          • how many oxys?

          • Oxys are big. Lolbuttz.

            GL

          • IronLawnmower

            lolwat u dont seem 2 understand I am a clean living anti individual. Like euronymous (who was a stupid asshole)

          • IronLawnmower

            666

          • Doctor Dickless

            Oh yeah, you’re Irish (right?). Of course you have been drinking.

          • IronLawnmower

            Nooorthern irealnd bababaayyy yueaah

          • Doctor Dickless

            I… I’m scared.

          • IronLawnmower

            Different country. If you come to norn ireland nad say it’s ireland the fucking UDA will break your fucking legs and you’ll have 24 hours to get out town or get shot like the stupid cunt you are because the UDA are fucking insane.

          • Doctor Dickless

            The UDA don’t seem like nice people. Now I know where I won’t be taking a vacation to.

          • IronLawnmower

            Yeah. Dealing drugs to kids and carbombing people isn’t very nice.

          • Doctor Dickless

            Aren’t a lot of them religious? Isn’t that against their moral code?

          • IronLawnmower

            HAHAHAHHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHA. See the way it works here is you’re either catholic or protestant. “oh but I’m an atheist” yeah are you a catholic atheist or a protestant atheist? they’re only religious as far as which side of the fence you’re on.

          • Doctor Dickless

            That’s pretty damn shitty. How active are their violent deeds still?

          • IronLawnmower

            It’s calmed down since the 70’s and 80’s but there are still some places if you walk into the wrong part of a town you could still get accostled. If you see a building that says UDA/IRA reserved on it you’re in a bad neighbourhood. Belfast is probably the least sectarian part of the country except the shankill and sandy row.

          • Doctor Dickless

            Good that isn’t as bad as it used to be. Maybe the closest thing we had was Lapua movement back in the late 20’s and early 30’s, but they mainly targeted communists and weren’t quite as extreme.

          • IronLawnmower

            Good bless Ian Paisley and his evil hate filled heart. The only good thing he did was help work on the good friday agreement which helped make a truce between the two sides.

  • NDNOvHell

    This gave my day a good boost. Killer!

  • Mr.CustodialArts

    Isn’t there a SONATA ARCTICA song about panties?

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      I think that despite the name, “Victoria’s secret” may not be about panties. I am sorry to have caused this disappointment

    • u meen R Kelly?

  • Great review, great album! Hail JAG!

  • Mother Shabubu III

    Remember when Pantera was glam and had an album called “Power Metal”? Then they turned into jock metal, the antithesis of glam.

    • Cowboys from Hell is really the only album I listen to at all. And that’s about once a year.

      I saw them on the Trendkill tour though. Anselmo had long since decided he was going to stop actually singing at all and cut the show short because heroin.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        I saw them on the steel tour in edmonton and phil was in top form and the show was flawless, receptive , enthusiastic audience though, they had never played the area.

      • Mother Shabubu III

        “Trendkill” is the one Pantera album I really like.

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      I don’t hold that against them because when they changed and went heavy they never went back, just stayed as heavy as fuck. Whereas other bands like metallica , machine head, max from sepultura started out heavy as fuck and sold out along the way. To me that is the true metal crime. To know whats right but sin against metal. Pantera discovered the true path as posers and walked away as giants, warriors of metal which phil and rex still are today, vinnie too in his own way (even though hell yeah sucks its still metal to a point.

      • Mother Shabubu III

        I wasn’t trying to call them sellouts, just that they had an embarrassing past. I just hate all the nu-jock metal that was spawned in their wake. Mudayne tried being Pantera at one point in their career (“Fucking Determined”/”Pushing Through”).

  • JAG, speaking of Kai, how do you feel about Gamma Ray’s new album this year?

  • Guacamole Jim

    I’m surprised at myself….. I like this a lot more than I thought I was going to.

    • The power seed we planted months ago is beginning to grow.

      • I think the hardcore seed died on the vine : /

        • I still like some old school NYHC and crossover.

        • I’ll join you as a keeper of that faith.

        • Edward Meehan

          I picked a hardcore band from CA out of all the bands I could have chosen, and it was a tough call.

        • Did you hear the last Strife album “Witness a Rebirth?”

          Love that record.

          • Edward Meehan

            JAG I was lurking your Bandcamp at some point and looking through some choice hardcore stuff, too. On that note, I may never say anything about your Bandcamps, or it may take a long time like this comment, but people occasionally do that lol

          • I like Bandcamp for certain genres and smaller bands. If all music was distributed as FLAC like on BC I’d hardly ever buy CDs. Records OTOH shall I always collect.

          • Edward Meehan

            JAG we may have talked about this, I dunno, but did you check out Gridlink’s Longhena from this year? That might be an extreme album you would like. Grindcore, but pretty for grindcore.

          • I’ll check it out for sure.

          • I did! It was SOLID.

        • Guacamole Jim

          Is Code Orange hardcore? Because if so then that one sprouted as soon as I heard them.

        • Disagree, I’m slowly starting to enjoy more hardcore. I used to avoid it.

      • He will soon have a large beanstalk growing from his chest. The great warriors of old will descend this beanstalk to reclaim their rightful place on the Throne of Metal.

        …jk, Power Metal = Lulz

    • Give it two or three listens on Spotify. You’ll be sold and trying to get that boxset from amazon.de.

      • Guacamole Jim

        I’m giving it a solid listen right now! Will report back.

  • W.

    JAG, my manly rug of chest hair is gently swaying in the breeze of the glory of this album.

    • My work here is done.

      It’s actually kinda bullshit that most of the other sites haven’t covered this album.

      • W.

        Maybe so, but not surprising. PM gets a bad rap, man.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        “POWER METAL !!!!!!!!” *in the voice of vintage UDO*

  • Guppusmaximus

    ” Nothing to see here but the very best in good traditional power metal (sans the cheese,) with well-crafted songs, vocal melodies, and good guitar solos.”

    That’s because it is good traditional HEAVY METAL (not Power Metal) which is a much-older-than-me-term…

    • I would consider it power metal too considering two of the key players are former-Helloween and it sounds (IMO) like the best Helloween album I ever heard.

      • Guppusmaximus

        I’m pretty certain the term ‘Power Metal’ wasn’t used (or didn’t exist) back in the 80s when they talked about Helloween, DIO, Iron Maiden, etc..in Circus, Hit Parader or Metal Hammer. But, my memory could be off as I’m getting up there in age 😛

        • I actually recall a bi-monthly Hit Parader spin-off that was called “Power Metal.” However the magazine covered mostly thrash and speed metal for the “no posers!” crowd.

          • Guppusmaximus

            Had to Google It… HA! Don’t remember seeing that mag ’round my parts. However, I got most of my news from my brother and the manager from Coconuts in Framingham (MA.) Good times… I met two dudes from Sepultura there once. Funny enough, I didn’t really have a clue who they were. It was before ‘Arise’ came out.

          • Nice.

            …but anyway Wikipedia lists “power metal” as one of the three genre-tags for Unisonic. As we all know Wikipedia can never be wrong 😀

  • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

    Need to find it, then.. I like positive lyrics too :D, a listen to a lot of different music and styles. in fact.. I was listening Helloween’s Keeper of the Seven Keys pt. II when I started to reading, and didn’t knew about the Kiske-Hansen colaboration in this band. Thanks for the review, worth reading.. “I believe we all could use a bit of positivity in our metal from time to time. I often turn to music to bring a bit of happiness when needed instead of only raging to growled lyrics based on some fictitious brutality.” 🙂 well said!

    • Thanks, man! Hope you find the album and enjoy it as much as I do.

  • Simon Phoenix

    But I LIKE cheese in my power metal.

    Still, this is damn good. Kiske sounds like he hasn’t aged a day.

    • I like the cheese too. It’s just remarkable that this album is almost completely devoid of the cliches people come to expect from power metal.

      My thoughts were exactly the same; Kiske has actually gotten better with age.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        he is probably better because he has rested his voice over the years not going full bore on the road.

        • He did do a lot of non-metal stuff after getting sacked from Helloween. I just think he’s one of the best vocalists ever.

  • old_man_doom

    I’m probably going to get rektd for sayin this, but i do not understand the appeal of power metal at all. Not one bit. Can some of you would-be-warriors out there enlighten my heathen mind?

    • Knight Solaire

      THE GLORY AND MAJESTY!

      • old_man_doom

        PRAISE THE FUCKING SUN

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      It’s an acquired taste i would say. Much like lee dorrian of cathedrals vocals or even geddy lee’s which was a stumbling block to a lot of people in the early days.

  • DeeSnarl

    Nicely written, JAG! I was actually hitherto unfamiliar – I’ll check it out. Keep fighting the good fight! *sings: LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!*

    • Appreciate your feedback. Hope you like this album almost as much as I do. It’s so freaking great it hurts.

      I think Unisonic really set themselves up for failure with this album; there’s no way they can top it.