Markus' Heavy Music Blog

My world of music - est. 2013

michael kiske

Live review HELLOWEEN, 'Pumpkins United', 013, Tilburg, 20.11.2017

Veröffentlicht am 21. November 2017 von Markus W. in Helloween, Pumpkins United, Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen, 013, Tilburg, Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Power Metal, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Live, Live Review, Tour

Live review HELLOWEEN, 'Pumpkins United', 013, Tilburg, 20.11.2017
Helloween, 'Pumpkins United', 013, Tilburg, 20.11.2017

2017 is coming closer to an end, a year that had many highlights with one announcement that was sticking out - the Pumpkins United tour. Actually the first news came out in 2016 with things getting more concrete in spring this year. Helloween's 'Pumpkins United' tour feels like a dream that became true. Instead of performing some shows in an 'old-school setup', Helloween decided to go for a slightly different approach. 'Pumpkins United' includes all the current band members with the addition of no less than Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. Even Ingo Schwichtenberg, who passes away in 1995 far too early, was and is part of this tour. The band honours the drummer with a drum solo via the backdrop screen, a solo he does together with Dani Löble. You can't interpret the word 'united' much better than this.

As a part of the world tour the band had a stop in The Netherlands on November 20th. It was the 013 in Tilburg that hosted a fantastic three hour show, featuring finest heavy metal. Helloween bridged in a perfect fashion old and new; not only when it comes to the line-up. The focus was, how could it be different, on the two parts of the 'Keeper of the Seven Keys" album. Five songs each turned the venue into a madhouse.

It was the Robbie Williams smash hit "Let me Entertain You" that acted as an intro to an unforgettable night of which "Halloween" was the starter, followed by "Dr. Stein" and "I'm Alive". These songs are classics and pure energizers.

Next to the great songs, the excellent musicians and the very well-done sound it was the stage scenery that completed a perfect metal show. As mentioned already earlier, it was a big screen that acted as a backdrop. Helloween used it to make Ingo Schwichtenberg part of this three hours metal journey. Next to this highlight of the night, one out of many, it has been short intermissions with Seth and Doc that have been placed after every second song. These nice and amusing breaks were the icing on the cake. Each of the short clips included a twinkle in the eye, stating the humour Helloween stand for.

Being grown up with the 'Keeper'-albums it felt like a journey back in time. Listening to the brilliant medley "Starlight/Ride the Sky/Judas" (from the "Walls of Jericho" release) and the epic "Keepers of the Seven Keys" was a delight for fans and metalheads. Of course time didn't stand still and we all got older. However, the magic survived and after all the decades that passed it's still a pleasure to listen to these classics in metal.

An exciting thing with this line-up is the fact that Helloween can benefit of three guitarists, providing a lot of riff-power and an extremely powerful sound. Next to the three axemen it's Andi Deris and Michael Kiske that performed more than well. It's the rougher voice of Deris that feels like an excellent counterpart to Kiske's high pitch moments, all climaxing when both have been on stage together, performing as a duet. It never felt like the one being better than the other or the both competing. It was more a completion of Helloween's sound. Still I must say that I was impressed how good Kiske's voice is after all these years. This man was and is one of the most influential singers in heavy metal - or how he stated towards the end of the show: "I lost my hair, but I didn't lost my voice". And he's so damn right - with both.

Time was flying that night and even the best things come to an end. The Grand Finale that night included two more classics. "Future World" and "I Want Out" have been excessively celebrated. The ending of a show couldn't have been better than with these two Helloween-hits.

Initiating 'Pumpkins United' was an outstanding idea. This set-up is fun for everybody. The band seemed to enjoy every single minute and also fans finally got what they were asking for such a long time - Helloween from then and now, all in one package. A night to remember and, at least when it comes to me, the by far best show in 2017.


CD review PLACE VENDOME "Close to the Sun"

Veröffentlicht am 9. März 2017 von Markus W. in Place Vendome, Michael Kiske, Dennis Ward, Hardrock, Melodic Metal, Melodic Rock, News, CD Review, Frontiers Music, Rock

(8/10) Some news from Place Vendome? Actually not. OK, there’s a new longplayer that hit the stores. The band/project that was founded in 2004 became a constant factor in melodic rock. What began with the successful debut found its continuation with two more records of which “Thunder in the Distance” was the latest one. Place Vendome seems to follow a kind of a four years rooster in which they come up with a new album. And here it is number four. “Close to the Sun” is the title of it and it comes with all the things you could expect from the band. So there is some news that comes with the well-known musical brilliance that’s known from the predecessors.

The artwork includes the eagle, the line-up is stable and the songs are well-crafted melodic rockers. Things stay as they were and that’s good. Place Vendome found a formula for melodic rock that also  makes this longplayer to an irresistible experience, even though this kind of music isn’t unique. But as on the first three records Place Vendome finds again the right balance of melodic vocals lines, mighty guitars and catchy hooks. Kiske, Ward & Co. manage to never drown in triviality with their songs. They deliver quality.

The opener “Close to the Sun” is the perfect example. Michael Kiske’s vocals are outstanding, the furious guitars are a treat and the rhythm section is pushing hard. This song reflects all Place Vendome trademarks and is a well-chosen opener. A number that brings the more emotional side to the forefront is “Strong” which is a power ballad (I actually don’t like this word). The songs marks a more silent moment on the album before gears are shifted with “Across the Times”. In the end I could mention each of the tracks since they are all equally good.

To spice things up Place Vendome invited some guest for “Close to the Sun”. Guitar solos were added by Kai Hansen, Gus, G., Magnus Karlsson and some more. And last but not least it was Dennis Ward himself who gave this album the sound that’s needed for such a powerful melodic rock production.

This album is a real highlight for fans of melodic metal and leads to a ‘thumbs up’ from my side.





  1. Close to the Sun
  2. Welcome to the Edge
  3. Hereafter
  4. Strong
  5. Across the Times
  6. Riding the Ghost
  7. Light Before the Dark
  8. Falling Star
  9. Breathing
  10. Yesterday is Gone
  11. Helen
  12. Distant Skies


Label: Frontiers Music

Genre: Melodic Metal

Release Date EU: February 24th, 2017

CD review PLACE VENDOME "Close to the Sun"

Interview with MICHAEL KISKE

Veröffentlicht am 17. April 2015 von Markus W. in Michael Kiske, Kiske Somerville, Hardrock, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal, News, Interview

On Friday this week the new album from Kiske/Somerville will see the light of day. The right moment to contact singer Michael Kiske for getting some more insights about the record. 

I got a pretty relaxed Michael Kiske on the phone, being at home in the beautiful city of Hamburg.  Enjoy reading what Michael had to say about the new Kiske/Somerville album, about Unisonic and life in general.


Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Hej Michael, great to have you on the phone. How are you?

Michael Kiske: Thanks. Everything is OK over here in beautiful Hamburg.


MHMB: Let’s talk about the new Kiske/Somerville album. It’s the second album and it will be released five years after the debut. How easy was it to get into the Kiske/Somerville mode again?

MK: It was actually very easy. Kiske/Somerville is a project and from this point of view not to compare with working together in a band like we do it with Unisonic. It’s traditional project work.


MHMB: How was the songwriting? I heard that Mat Sinner and Magnus Karlsson have written most of the tracks.

MK: Yes. That’s right. It was Mat (Sinner) and Magnus (Karlsson) who wrote the songs and I got the material at a certain stage. And since the guys know me quite well they also know what kind of songs I can do best and where I would have more a kind of an issue.

Also Amanda (Somerville) composed a few songs and one made it on the album. I think it’s a very nice one. “Breaking Neptune” is from her and her husband Sander Gommans.

Not being part of the songwriting means that it’s for me quite easy to contribute with my vocal part during the recording. I get the songs with some guiding vocals and mostly Amanda is on there already too. This is where my part starts. I try to get into the songs and contribute with my vocal parts. I’m doing it here at my place, which gives me a quite relaxed atmosphere. And it’s not only that I have this way of working for Kiske/Somerville. Also the vocals for the Unisonic songs have been recorded in a similar way, even though I was for those ones part of the songwriting process.

Photo: Promotion

Photo: Promotion

MHMB: How would you describe the new album? I would say it has a more powerful expression compared to the debut.

MK: That could be. I don’t have the debut that much present at the moment since I seldom listen to albums where I’m on. This goes for Kiske/Somerville as well as for Unisonic - with the small difference that we play the Unisonic stuff of course very often live. What is the important thing for me with “City of heroes” are good songs with interesting melodies. The melody is the most crucial element. You can interpret it in your own way and you can produce it in your own way. You can do a lot with a good song. Just take “Yesterday” from the Beatles as an example. You could create a speed metal song out of it as well as a punk song or a musical version. Therefore the melody is the important component. If the final production is a bit harder or softer isn’t that remarkable for me.


MHMB: The cover reflects the bright side and the darkness. The songs reflect this as well. Is this a kind of red threat throughout “City of heroes”?

MK: Yes, that’s life. Those two sides are definitely important. If you have busy times in your job you also need some time to come down again. When you face excitement you also need silence and when you are awake for a longer time you need to sleep. Always being in tension doesn’t help. You can compare it with a bow. If you keep the bow always on in tension it will not work anymore after a while. I wouldn’t go that far to say that if you’re good you need to be bad too, but as humans we have both inside of us. It is a very exciting topic I could talk for hours about, since the middle of both is ‘fortune’ in the end. I think that in this sense humans are all the same. And therefore the topic is always present.


MHMB: Coming back to album. I think that you and Amanda’s voice are a very good match. How do you see this and is it something that is important for you?

MK: I can’t imagine that there are voices that don’t fit together. The challenge is when you’re singing with one voice, will say, singing the same in the same pitch. That can become an issue for almost all singers. It’s also a constant challenge for Amanda and me. But as soon as you’re singing with two voices it’s not an issue anymore. It actually adds a lot of vitality to a song. I have a good example here fore. Cara Dillon is an Irish folk singer with a soft voice that has a lot of depth. She did a duet together with a guy called John Smith, who has a very rough voice. It’s those extremes, which makes the duet to something very nice.


MHMB: Michael, you have quite some project and bands at the moment. Place Vendome, Kiske/Somerville and Unisonic. Is Unisonic is the one out of those three, which gets most of your attention at the moment?

MK: Yes, Unisonic is the only real band for me at the moment where I’m a part of. The others are projects. I honestly was thinking if I should stop slowly with those projects so that Unisonic can get more attention, esp. since timing becomes more and more difficult. Also thinking about playing live with 3-4 different bands demands quite some time. This means quite a lot when it comes to getting all this organized. Playing live with Unisonic and doing some ‘Classic meets rock’ shows plus a few Avantasia concerts is enough for me. On the other hand I know that there are a lot of fans out there who appreciate the projects very much and I’m very aware that it would be a very regrettable situation for them. And I also like Amanda and the guys from Kiske/Somerville. So let’s see what the future will bring.


MHMB: Michael, that actually a good statement in the end. I’m looking forward to hear and see more from you in the future.

MK: Thanks for having me. 

Interview with MICHAEL KISKE
Interview with MICHAEL KISKE

New PLACE VENDOME album samples

Veröffentlicht am 21. September 2013 von Markus W. in Place Vendome, AOR, Michael Kiske, Hardrock, News

PLACE VENDOME announces a new album for autumn this year. The album will be called "Thunder in the distance" and will be released on November 1st via Frontiers Records. The album is produced by Denis Ward, who was also working together with Kiske in Unisonic.



  1. Power of music
  2. Broken wings
  3. Lost in paradise
  4. It can't rain forever
  5. Hold your love
  6. Never too late
  7. Heaven lost
  8. My heart is dying
  9. Breakout
  10. Maybe tomorrow
  11. Thunder in the distance


A sample of the new tracks can be listened to with the link.



New PLACE VENDOME album samples