Released: 2014, Armoury Records
Unisonic’s second album follows the mostly well-received self-titled debut in 2012 in helping to return Michael Kiske to the forefront of power metal. While UNISONIC was a worthy album, it was tentative in places, the band obviously still gelling at the time. LIGHT OF DAWN is the full realization of the renewed partnership between Kiske and Kai Hansen. Recorded at Hofa Studios in Germany, LIGHT OF DAWN serves to reinforce what a potent force Kiske still is and proves how power metal can be accessible and technical at the same time.
The cinematic intro is the predictable throwaway begging for the skip button, but “Your Time Has Come” recalls glory days. This is one of the most pure power metal tracks on the album and features speedy and melodic guitars that support Kiske’s powerful and still impressive range. However, LIGHT OF DAWN is not a pure power metal album, and the band does not waste any time in showing that, the next song “Exceptional” being somewhere closer to modern arena rock. “For The Future” features a brilliant chorus melody while the song itself is a hybrid of power metal and traditional metal elements.
Consisting of 12 songs, LIGHT OF DAWN does have a few weaker moments. “Not Gonna Take It Anymore” treads dangerously close to wimpdom, the most AOR sounding song on the album with a somewhat calculated festival sing along chorus. There are a three average power ballads , all appearing in the last third of the album and robbing the final stretch of some momentum.“You and I” serves as the anemic album closer. It is not a bad tune, but not up to the standards of Gamma Ray or Helloween’s best ballads either. Things are quickly forgiven though thanks to Kiske’s soaring vocals on “Night Of The Knives” and the metallic retro glory of “Find Shelter”.
One small surprise to me is that most of the album was written by bassist and producer Dennis Ward, with Kiske contributing on a few songs but no offerings from Hansen. Taken as a whole though, LIGHT OF DAWN is a triumph that contains enough of vintage Kiske and Hansen performances to offset some of the lighter, more modern AOR elements. There are some really catchy nuggets on here and while it finishes on a lighter note, there is enough bite overall to please the pure power metal loving fans out there. Hopefully we will get more of Hansen’s songs on the next album.