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Place Vendome: Thunder In The Distance

While long term Michael Kiske (once the vocalist in Helloween) fans, have like myself been frothing over his recent re-collaboration with his fellow ex-Helloweener Kai Hansen in Unisonic, it was actually the "band" Place Vendome which first tempted him back towards the world of Rock and Metal more permanently. The singer publicly stating he'd lost the desire for such endeavours. Amazingly his sabbatical lasted nearly a decade, but since the 2005 self titled release from Place Vendome, he has become a far more and very welcome visitor to the heavier side of the spectrum once more.

That all said Place Vendome, which is one of those studio projects Frontiers Records boss Serafino Perugino dreamed up, aren't exactly a thrusting Power/Speed Metal outfit. The aforementioned debut and 2009 follow up Streets Of Fire sitting neatly in the Frontiers box of Melodic Rock come AOR. Both being very good exponents of it too. Interestingly Kiske has mentioned in interviews regarding PV3, titled Thunder In The Distance that it is pure AOR this time round and much though the singer of the project will know much better than me, I have to be honest and say I disagree. This album being far punchier than that description would suggest. However it is still mighty fine stuff and to be fair to Kiske, who is again in imperious form here, what he and uber producer/bassist Dennis Ward have cooked up does contain some serious AOR moments.

Back in the fold alongside Kiske and Ward are guitarist Uwe Reitenauer and keyboard player Gunther Werjo, with the drum stool manned ably by Dirk Bruinenberg. This time the songwriting team consists of the likes of Tommy Denander, Magnus Karlsson, Timo Tolkki, and among others, Alessandro Del Vecchio. Which when you read it means that nearly all of the main players of the current MHR/AOR scene are, impressively, present and correct in some shape or form.

It shows, with the songs being a slick mix of keyboard led pomp, guitar slicing rockers and the odd soaring ballad. In short a Melodic Rocker's dream. Try out "It Can Rain Forever" for a serving of the prime AOR Kiske was talking about, with "Power Of Music" and "Heaven Lost" not far behind, while "Hold Your Love" and "Maybe Tomorrow" verge into that territory marked ballads of power! The album's title track and especially "Talk To Me" and "Broken Wings" turn up the volume and the intensity to excellent effect, allowing Kiske to soar as only he can.

As you'll gather from the track titles, some will scoff that what Place Vendome do is all cliché ridden and safe but I'd suggest that for others that is actually the point here. Ultimately if it is done really well, does it matter? Not to me and not to Place Vendome, who with Thunder In The Distance have released another little belter.

Track Listing
01. Talk To Me
02. Power Of Music
03. Broken Wings
04. Lost In Paradise
05. It Can't Rain Forever
06. Fragile Ground
07. Hold Your Love
08. Never Too Late
09. Heaven Lost
10. My Heart Is Dying
11. Breakout
12. Maybe Tomorrow
13. Thunder In The Distance

Added: December 16th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Michael Kiske Online
Hits: 7199
Language: english

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Place Vendome: Thunder In The Distance
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-12-16 11:36:42
My Score:

Michael Kiske completes his transformation from head-banging royalty to AOR king with the third album from Place Vendome. Essentially a vehicle for Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugino to showcase material penned by such songwriters as Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline) and Andrea Cantarelli (Labyrinth), and performed by Kiske with members of Pink Cream 69, VandenPlas and Consortium Project, Place Vendome sounds like none of those bands.

And while the names listed above come from the metal realm, this project provides them an outlet for more accessible, melodic and softer material — much the way Place Vendome has helped Kiske find new audiences. Nobody's reputation in heavier music circles is at stake here, except maybe Kiske's — although the singer still has his collaboration with former Helloween colleague Kai Hansen in Unisonic. This is high-end AOR colored with splashes of hard rock majesty, mixed and produced to glisten by PC69's Dennis Ward (who also plays bass in Place Vendome). In other words, Thunder in the Distance is the kind of music on which Frontiers has built its reputation. One look at the artwork, and you know what you're getting. Not quite as heavy (or catchy) as the Jeff Scott Soto-fronted W.E.T. or PC69, Place Vendome still will satisfy listeners who own more than a handful of previous Frontiers releases.

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