With a strong lineup featuring ex-Helloween frontman Michael Kiske, current Krokus and ex-Asia/Gotthard guitarist Mandy Meyer, Pink Cream 69 bassist Dennis Ward and ex-Pink Cream 69 sticksman Kosta Zafiriou, it was only when ex-Helloween axeman and songwriter extraordinaire Kai Hansen joined Unisonic in 2011, ahead of the band's first release, that metal eyes truly lit up the world over. The Kiske and Hansen reunion was one to get genuinely excited about. After all, the inimitable vocal abilities of the former, paired with the unmistakably melodic and virtuosic fretboard widdling of the latter, were a potent force in their erstwhile band, that helped spawn the two magnificent 'Keeper of the Seven Keys' works. While Unisonic's music has yet, perhaps, to match the magnificence of the 'Keeper' albums, they still have an array of catchy and infectious tunes that have been composed and arranged across the band's hard rock/power metal hybrid.
'Live in Wacken' was recorded at Germany's biggest metal party on 5th August last year, with the full set on a CD and, rather inexplicably, just half the songs on an accompanying DVD. Hmmm... maybe there was an issue with the visuals for some of the tracks? Very peculiar, particularly when you consider earMUSIC recently put out the Hansen & Friends live show from the same fest, with a full set on both CD and DVD. Still, of the six tracks that do feature on the DVD, the band have been captured well, with the kind of multi-camera visual production you'd expect from such an esteemed, big stage as that of Wacken. And they look like they were having a ball.
The CD is, however, the primary focus of this release, by default, as it features Unisonic's Wacken debut in its entirety. Generally, it's the band's own material that made up their set that night, which all sounds great in its rawer, live form. Tons of energy, passion and metal vitality. However, as a fan pleasing move, two Helloween numbers also feature in the form of a couple of "time" pieces (see what I did there?), one from each of the 'Keeper' albums. 'A Little Time' sounds truly fantastic in the twenty first century, and includes a cheeky mid-song interlude that sees them tackle a passage from Judas Priest's 'Victim of Changes'. But, it's 'March of Time' that gives me shivers. A remarkable track back in the day and it remains so now. One of the greatest metal compositions ever, in my opinion.
A great band in their own right, there's undeniably an added sparkle for Helloween aficionados, and the Kiske/Hansen pairing remains a potent one. "Time marches on and on and on" sings Kiske... that might be so, but it's like time has stood still for these two metal luminaries. It might've taken them over two decades to reunite and make music once again, but the magic is still there - recorded and live. As with the Hansen & Friends release, it all serves as appetite whetting ahead of Helloween's forthcoming Pumpkins Reunited world tour.
LIVE IN WACKEN
Review by Mark Holmes
21st July 2017
CD: 1) Venite 2.0; 2) For the Kingdom; 3) Exceptional; 4) My Sanctuary; 5) King for a Day; 6) A Little Time; 7) Your Time Has Come; 8) When the Deed is Done; 9) Star Rider; 10) Throne of the Dawn; 11) March of Time; 12) Unisonic
DVD: 1) For the Kingdom; 2) Exceptional; 3) Your Time Has Come; 4) When the Deed is Done; 5) March of Time; 6) Unisonic
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"A great band in their own right, there's undeniably an added sparkle for Helloween aficionados, and the Kiske/Hansen pairing remains a potent one."