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Monday, 20 February 2017

Reviews: Place Vendome, Knight Area, Sinheresy

Place Vendome: Close To The Sun (Frontiers)

I'm not sure why this band have named themselves after the starting point of the
Rue de la Paix (the fashionable shopping district in the French Capital of Paris - Geography Ed) but you can't argue with the talent involved with this band formed by Pink Cream 69/Countless others bassist/producer Dennis Ward and ex-Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske the band have released three albums previously with this fourth one coming three years since their last.

As a parallel to this band Ward and Kiske have made two Unisonic albums together with Kai Hansen that has strengthened their partnership, while Unisonic sees them writing/playing and producing, the Place Vendome collaboration has numerous guest writers contributing songs, this time around the tracks have been penned by Magnus Karlsson, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Jani Liimatainen (Cain's Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica), Olaf Thorsen (Vision Divine, Labyrinth), Fabio Lione (Vision Divine, Angra, ex-Labyrinth, ex-Rhapsody of Fire), Simone Mularoni (DGM), Mike Palace and Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere) with guitar solos provided by Gus G (Firewind), Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, Unisonic), Mandy Meyer (Krokus, Unisonic), Alfred Koffler, Michael Klein, Magnus Karlsson and Simone Mularoni.

This like many of the records delivered by Frontiers are collaborative projects that bring together some of the most well known performers in the melodic and power metal genres to indulge in the lighter side of the genre with big AOR hooks. Allowing the incredible voice of Kiske to sing in a style you may not associate with him. Close To The Sun shows that this projects still has legs and it's ready to kick when needed. 7/10

Knight Area: Heaven And Beyond (Butler Records)

Heaven And Beyond is a keening neo-prog record piecing the best bits of classic bands like Yes and Pink Floyd, The Reaper is the best example of Floydian themes and the more modern prog sounds of Pendragon and Arena. The tinkling keys are the bands major weapon with synths from the frontman Mark Smit and keyboardist Gerben Klazinga but they still have jazzy rhythms from Peter Vink and Pieter van Hoorn along with flowing guitar work especially on opening track Unbroken. Frontman Smit's vocals are very good, light and melodic crooning with an emotional delivery.

The classical strings that cut through the poppy Box Of Toys give the track a breezy feel and ends with a stirring guitar solo. Starlight could easily have come off an Asia record especially because of Smit's John Wetton-like vocals, he could be a perfect replacement for the sadly recently deceased frontman. The title track is a beautiful ballad that avoids being sappy and builds into one of three best solos on the record from Mark Bogert.

There seems to be a few spiritual overtones on this record but it's difficult to say whether it's a Christian record, still that wouldn't detract from the music on this record. I've knew very little about this Dutch act before but I'm looking forward going back and discovering more. 8/10

Sinheresy: Domino (Scarlet Records)

Italian symphonic metal band Sinheresy began as a Nightwish cover band before starting composing their own songs in 2011. They rely on the dual male/female vocals with the deep male vocals of Stefano Sain in opposition to the soaring operatic female pipes of Cecilia Petrini. This is their second full length album and it sees them sticking to their sound with orchestral touches adding to the progressive metal backing they even have put some EDM on Star Dome that takes them into Amaranthe territory as the pumping synths run parallel with the galloping power metal.

The record brims with confidence and is a step up in songwriting form their debut but it does stick rather rigidly to the formulaic symphonic metal sound. Still if you want good dual vocals, sweeping synths and a metallic crunch you could do worse than the progressive, symphonic sound of Sinheresy. 7/10  

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