PLACE VENDROME – Close To The Sun (Album Review)

Place Vendome

Place Vendome is a melodic hard rock project, founded in 2004 by Frontiers Records‘ President Serafino Perugino.

Place Vendome was formed by ex-Helloween and current Unisonic vocalist Michael Kiske, Dennis Ward (bass and production), Kosta Zafiriou (drums) and Uwe Reitenauer (guitars) from the band Pink Cream 69 and Gunther Werno (keyboards) from the band Vanden Plas.  The pedigree is undeniable and the results are suitably stratospheric.

I am a huge Michael Kiske fan from Helloween to Unisonic and this album is a departure from the Power Metal of these bands, being more straight ahead AOR.  However, his vocals are so distinctive that the music is still driven by the power of his singing.  Needless to say, this means class is stamped across this release, with its drifting souring melodies and rasping guitar melting into one fusion pot of harmonious joy.

Every song is a melodic mixture of magnificent manners, topped with a cherry of aggression, save for the rather Adele-like (!) “Strong“.  Still, it is better than the tripe that is usually served in the Pop charts and has a decent chance of being a hit.

The album breathes around in a classic rock mix.  The strongest songs seem to pack the beginning, with the excellent “Welcome To The Edge” standing strong in a collection that has more than its share of strong songs.

In some ways, this album allows Kiske to do more hard rock than is normally associated with his brand.  However, it sometimes is a bit too slick.  It hits the spot, but you sometimes wish for a bit more grit in your sandwich.  “Riding The Ghost” has a whiff of this, with its Deep Purple-isms, but I would like a little more anger.  He should take a look at Rizon or Embers Fall for a pop rock mixture that has significant grit allied to magnificent harmonies.

Anyway, I did enjoy the album and it has been great listening to some amazing guitar (the solo on “Helen” truly smokes) and keyboard work.  The one disappointment was maybe the under-utilization of the bass and drums, which seem little more than functional…Oh well, you can’t have it all!  Still a solid album with Kiske sounding as good as ever.

Buy: Close To The Sun

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