I always find it pretty intriguing when artists come together to work on a supergroup or album. Two of the more respectable artists in the metal community have banded together to release their sophomore album titled, City of Heroes. Known as Kiske/Somerville, if you haven’t figured it out yet, the two fronts of the group are better known as Michael Kiske, ex-singer for German metal legends, Helloween, and also Amanda Somerville, who is best known as the temporary replacement for Epica singer, Simone Simons, during one of their tours as well as writing and recording with bands such as Avantasia, After Forever, Kamelot and Edguy. Originally formed about 6 years ago in 2009; the group was formed by their label, Frontiers Records. Their second album is due for an April 17th/21st, 2015 release. City of Heroes, comprises of twelve tracks that really delve into the realms of power metal and melodic metal with lyricism that draws upon fantasy and other worldly themes, I mean look at the album cover. Bringing in elements of heavy, melody, inspiration and more this album hits upon various points that really speak to me and drew me in with ease.
Wasting no time with cliche instrumental only tracks, they kick off the album with the explosive title track, City of Heroes. Within seconds I immediately fell in love with Amanda’s beautifully given voice. Her voice along with Michael’s voice really do an impressive job harmonizing and playing off of each others energies. Their performance in the music video is wondrous, by the end I thought they were about to unleash their superpowers (hence the name of the album). Walk On Water is a semi-ballad, singing lyrics that empower them as well as of course the listener. The melodic style of metal and piano really stimulates an addiction that makes this one of the better tracks of the album. Don’t forget to stick around for the shredding solo with killer licks later on! For the more Symphonic oriented fans, you’ll probably connect with the track Rising Up. Some rather satisfying epic symphonies as well as light hints of electronica sweep over this one. The steady progression and strongly driven chorus with of course strong vocal skills from Amanda Somerville, continue the perfect set of tracks.
While the vocals no doubt do a mesmerizing job of of captivating a certain essence from the fans, I found the track Salvation to be more vocally stimulating than most of the album. Once more, the perfect harmonization from both Michael and Amanda make this a wonder drug of a track. One dose and you’re hooked. The track almost has an AOR style of play, with a heavier tone though. Hopefully they turn this one into a music video and their next single. Breaking Neptune is where Mr. Michael Kiske really gets to showcase his vocality. This is one of the recommended tracks and to further strengthen it, the killer solo is just amassing. Note bends, great harmonics, and overall a track that is pretty headbangable, by this point the album does not fail to deliver. Open Your Eyes is very speed driven. No, not speed metal, but overall more than the other tracks. Pleasurable double bass, harder riffs, shredding once more among other magical moments throughout, this plays to a more anthemic level. What album wouldn’t be complete without a true ballad to get that blood pumping? Ocean Of Tears, promises to take you to the stars via their ocean of tears. With cellos, violas playing to a slow but sure buildup to the power of the track, this one surely will spark something moving from within. Aptly titled, emotional guitar musicianship, this is one of those special tracks that do well with both a female and male co-op, working together to really lay the sentiment upon everyone.
Overall, an album that delivers supreme results with hints of magic and majesty, Kiske/Somerville have created an album that has become one of my favorites of the year so far. Boy, there sure has been lots of great metal releases lately this being up there too. While the album did not really touch upon any speedy elements, the harmonics and melodic aspect of the album are forever strong. The strength this duo has in their vocality, really shows that they truly are masters of their instrument. If I were to nominate an album for best vocal performance, this one would be my first pick, hands down. If you like tracks with a large presence, pick this album up. After hearing each track multiple times and listening overall to the album a handful of times, each time I did, the tracks made more sense, almost feeling closer to the songs. Nonetheless though this album is diverse and as memorable as it gets, for I know I definitely one day want to travel to a City of Heroes. Stay Metal \m/
City of Heroes: 9/10
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