TRACK LISTING: 01 Cross The Line * 02 I Will Be Waiting * 03 Too Late * 04 I Will Be Gone * 05 The Setting Sun * 06 Place Vendome * 07 Heavens Door * 08 Right Here * 09 Magic Carpet Ride * 10 Sign Of The Times
Background Another surprising but positive release to make it out of the Frontiers label is this newie called Place Vendome. The membership of this band comprise three main sources: Michael Kiske - previously the voice behing German metallers Helloween, Uwe Reitenauer, Dennis Ward and Kosta Zafirou from fellow German outfit Pink Cream 69, plus Gunter Werno from Van den Plas. Principally though, this is Kiske's little infant, and after indifferent affairs with his solo material and the 2003 failure Supared, Place Vendome is a breath of fresh air for him. Kiske has publicly stated that he wanted to try different styles, so Frontiers put it to him to try melodic rock/AOR. It has worked out a treat - obviously..
The Songs The material is the sort of stuff you'd expect the likes of Journey to toy around with. Vocally, Kiske is not as high-pitched as before, his style not unlike James La Brie of Dream Theater in some places. Things get underway with 'Cross The Line', the John Sykes styled guitarwork of Uwe Reitenauer there for all to hear. Impressive start. 'I Will Be Waiting' is a modern radio friendly attempt. Probably not pure AOR as such but enjoyable nonetheless. 'I Will Be Gone' has many Journey-like elements to it. The heavy handed drumwork a la Deen Castronovo, plus the Neal Schon styled guitar work of Reitenauer. 'The Setting Sun' is a perfect melodic rock tune, landing somewhere between Whitesnake's '1987' era and Pink Cream 69. The title track 'Place Vendome' is a rampant bristling piece high on energy and excitement. I never knew that singing about a local Parisian landmark could sound so exciting! Changing the pace completely is the melodic backwash of 'Heavens Door', which comes at you straight out of the American midwest. Thoughts of Sko/Torp or On The Rise came serenading across my senses listening to this track. The final trio of songs don't let up one bit. 'Right Here' is a mid-paced effort with an orchestral/string arrangement throughout. The band go all AOR on 'Magic Carpet Ride' while the closer 'Sign Of The Times' is built on an intense musical bed which offloads its energy during the 5 minute discourse through layered vocal choruses, varied keyboard exchanges, and a fiery solo to complete it all.
In Summary If someone was to mention to me that Michael Kiske would release one of the albums of the year, I would've told them to get lost. The fact remains, this is right up there among the best of them so far. An excellent set, sure to go down as one of the top 20 melodic rock albums of the year for many pure melodic rockers. It's already ear-marked in mine! Perhaps not so the heavy metallers who are still admonishing Kiske for deserting them! There is a certain irony with Michael Kiske and Place Vendome, plus the involvement of the Pink Cream 69 members. After all, the current Helloween singer, the guy who replaced Kiske is none other than former Pink Cream 69 singer Andi Deris. What a strange place we live in.
Michael Kiske is excellent on this and there is some really memorable stuff on show, My faves being the opener 'Cross The Line', 'I Will Be Waiting' 'To Late' & 'Magic Carpet'. A Great production by Dennis Ward gives the whole album the necessary sheen that puts alot of other releases of this type to shame.