Review by Woody
Thunder In The Distance is the third album from Place Vendome the project to showcase original Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske. Again the album is produced by Dennis Ward and has songs written by a whole host of guest writers. I know not everyone is a fan of these Frontiers projects, as they aren’t real bands and sometimes rely too heavily on the same song writing teams, but from my perspective some of these projects are just damn good to ignore! So does this new one from Place Vendome push all my happy buttons? The simple answer is Hell YES!
I think most melodic rock fans will really enjoy this album and it is a solid collection of commercial flavoured rock. Even though Place Vendome are a project the team behind it have developed a certain style to associate with the band, which breaks them free of the generic nature of some of the other projects. Don’t get me wrong this is still essentially a radio friendly slab of hook laden melodic rock but there is a strong majestic and pompous tone to it all, giving Place Vendome a more specific identity and sound. There is an epic feel to all the songs due to the arrangements and orchestration it makes Thunder In The Distance sound very grandiose.
The song’s chosen are of a very high standard, ‘Power Of Music’, powerful ballad ‘It Can’t Rain Forever’, ‘Hold Your Love’ and ‘My Heart Is Dying’ should all become firm favourite with genre fans. Kiske’s vocals throughout are very impressive and the songs really showcase his vocal style with maximum effect. For me this is the strongest in the Place Vendome trilogy mainly because I think it’s the most consistently strong overall.
The musician’s involved in this album have delivered some quality performances that have really breathed life into these songs and help emphasis Kiske’s vocals but also the quality of the songs. Some great pompous keyboard licks have helped no end in creating the bombastic and epic nature of the songs and the little slick guitar solos help make the album feel well rounded. Obviously one of the biggest downfalls of some of the Frontiers projects is they can feel soulless as the identity of the songs is spread between so many components, but I feel Place Vendome feels more fluid and natural and again it’s the quality of the songs that shine through and wins you over.
It’s an album full of delicious melodies encapsulated in majestic grandeur with strong choruses and radio friendly hooks that melodic rock fans scream for. If you’re a fan of Kiske or the previous Place Vendome albums I guarantee you're going to dig this one. Like I say whether you’re a fan of these projects or not, some of them are just too damn good to ignore and Thunder In The Distance is one of the best!
Track Listing: Talk To Me / Power Of Music / Broken Wings / Lost In Paradise / It Can’t Rain Forever / Fragile Ground / Hold Your Love / Never Too Late / Heaven Lost / My Heart Is Dying / Break Out / Maybe Tomorrow / Thunder In The Distance
Album Rating: 8/10
Woody’s Essential Track: My Heart Is Dying
Track by Track:
The album opens with the bombastic radio friendly ‘Talk To Me’ which has a strong chorus. ‘Power Of Music’ is a commercial sing along track with some hook ridden keyboards. There are some delicious melodies which make this one really stick in your mind and it features some epic sounding orchestration. Energetic rocker ‘Broken Wings’ has pompous keys, driving guitar riffs and a big ass majestic chorus.
‘Lost In Paradise’ is a pompous slow burning mid-tempo ballad with an immediate harmony drenched chorus – it has shades of Pink Cream 69 to my ears! Epic emotive ballad ‘It Can’t Rain Forever’ is a real standout track for me, I love the powerful chorus and Kiske puts in a stunning vocal performance. Driven Rocker ‘Fragile Ground’ has a sweeping chorus and some great melodies which make this a sleeper hit.
For me ‘Hold Your Love’ is an obvious choice for single as its radio friendly gold. It has hooks all over the place and the pre-chorus drags you perfectly into the sweeping sing along AOR chorus. ‘Never Too Late’ is an energetic rocker with pumping pompous keyboards. The urgent chorus really grabs you and this song will definitely get heads a rockin’. ‘Heaven Lost’ is slightly metallic with some majestic keyboards and a driven and bombastic chorus. Commercial rocker ‘My Heart Is Dying’ hit me on the first play, its delicious melodies and sing along chorus made it an instant hit.
‘Break Out’ has an uplifting vibe, some killer unforgettable vocal melodies and a summer filled chorus. ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ for me is a very weak track and the only truly disappointing song on this album, it’s a ballad but it makes no impact. Closer ‘Thunder In The Distance’ is an epic rocker with a traditional melodic rock chorus; this one will definitely pump genre fans juices!
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