After a surprisingly successful collaboration in 2010 with their self-titled debut album, powerhouse vocalists Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville have returned after five years with their follow-up, CITY OF HEROES. Pleasingly for a project band, the core of the group is still together with both Magnus Karlsson and Mat Sinner remaining on board, and the drum position solidified by newcomer Veronika Lukesova.
As before, Sinner and Karlsson have done the bulk of the writing, which is immediately obvious given that all of the songs fall into the pair’s half power metal, half hard rock sound. Fortunately the pair dialed up the intensity in comparison to the sometimes too-mellow debut, kicking off the album with the pure metal of the title track which can’t help but be seen as a statement of intent. As well, there are fewer ballads this time and only one that’s a chore to sit through (that would be “Ocean of Tears”). The rest of the songs are all enjoyable, making the entire album feel more vibrant and energetic than the first one.
Of course this review wouldn’t be complete without discussion of our two titular vocal heroes. Suffice it to say that, while there are no singular “wow!” moment for either Kiske or Somerville, both are in typically spectacular form throughout the album. Somerville’s strong voice remains a perfect foil to Kiske’s operatics, and the pairing is one of the best in metal.
What more could you want? CITY OF HEROES delivers not one, but two top-tier vocalists, excellent musicianship, and memorable song writing. Fans of both singers will enjoy this immensely.
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