With so many bands around, you would think it’s possible to stay on top of everything. In fact when I was introduced to this project, I knew I had to check it out.
Founded by Frontiers Records president, Serafino Perugino, Place Vendome, is a supergroup that includes Dennis Ward and Uwe Reitenauer of Pink Cream 69, Gunther Werno, Dirk Bruinenberg whom has worked with bands like Elegy and Adagio and the big name out of the bunch, Michael Kiske formerly of Helloween and also works with other side projects like Kiske/Sommerville and currently fronts the metal band, Unisonic. Formed about 13 years ago, the group recently released their fourth album titled Close To The Sun, which is a solid and strong approach to the hard rock and AOR music scene. Their last release wasn’t as well received by fans as anticipated but on a 180 note, the album was written by the main lineup including guest musicians from Sonata Arctica, Labyrinth, Rhaposdy of Fire, Gamma Ray and Gus G.
There is an on-par performance on the title track, Close To The Sun. Radiating energy flows from the get-go meanwhile the guitar is very well driven. Personally, the guitar work is on a better scale on this opener than some of the other tracks. Hereafter comes with a very much progressive tuning. Current fans may recognize the sound on this one that is reminiscent of their second album, Streets of Fire.
Fans may also see another blast from the past from that same album in the track, Across The Times. An ironic title, the melodic work here is superb with Michael Kiske, leading on the strong vocal range. Another highlight of the track/album is the appearance of Kai Hansen on the guitar solo.
Riding The Ghost is where things get really tasty. Featuring former Rhapsody of Fire lead man, Fabio Lione, his talents and experience in the speed/power metal scene gives Michael Kiske almost a run for his money. Kiske certainly had to put forth more energy on this one and we definitely see another side of him that makes a rare appearance on his works. While we experience metal greatness around the mid-point of the album, things get more harmonic and melodic towards the end of the album.
For example, Yesterday Is Gone, is where the vocal range gets tested. Yes, I bring up the vocals a lot on this album and if you want to indulge in vocal ecstasy, this is the one to dive in to. Distant Skies felt like an optimistic and uplifting end to quite a diverse album. An AOR type atmosphere is pretty clear, for those who wondered where AOR makes a presence, as well as on other tracks.
Overall, while the album isn’t extreme in any sense, the measure of the album is satisfactory and pretty pleasing considering the amassing amount of talent on this project. I forgot to mention there are some light symphonic elements that make an apperance here and there so if you love music with a big picture and grandiose atmosphere, why not give this album a shot from Place Vendome. Strong placement and song structure, multi-faceted approaches, strong vocals and guitar skills, you can’t go wrong with being Close To The Sun. Stay Metal m/