Place Vendome is a melodic hard rock/AOR project which features Michael Kiske (Unisonic, Kiske/Somerville, Helloween) on vocals, Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) on bass, Uwe Reitenauer (Pink Cream 69) on guitars and Gunther Werno (Vanden Plas) on keyboards.
Four years has passed since the last album “Thunder in the Distance”. Like the previous albums, many musicians provided the songwriting for the new 4th album “Close to the Sun”. The participants are: Simone Mularoni (DGM), Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica), Alessandro Del Vecchio, Olaf Thorsen (Vision Divine, Labyrinth), Fabio Lione (Vision Divine, Angra, ex-Labyrinth, ex-Rhapsody of Fire), Mike Palace (Palace, Skylander), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere).
Additionally, for the first time the album feature guest guitar solos by Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne), Kai Hansen (Helloween, Gamma Ray, Unisonic), Magnus Karlssonn, Mandy Meyer (Krokus, ex-Asia, Unisonic), Michael Klein, Simone Mularoni, Uwe Reitenauer and Alfred Koffler (Pink Cream 69).
Dennis Ward once again delivers impressive work and thanks to his great production, the album sounds very coherent, even if it has many different composers. The album features some songs that border on melodic metal but the whole album sounds delightful. From the fast melodic hard rock/metal “Close to the Sun”, “Welcome to the Edge”, “Hereafter” (DGM cover), “Light Before the Dark” to the slow heart-touching ballads “Strong”, “Breathing” and “Helen”, the album is flawless. The mid-tempo rocker “Across The Times” is a feel-good melodic track. “Riding The Ghost” is a straight forward hard rock/AOR track with a hard edge riff driving the song. Kiske sounds brilliant, but overall, the whole song is just wonderfully delivered. “Falling Star” is another Magnus Karlsson gem, full of hooks and a dreamy AOR chorus. A song that could easily be in a Kiske/Somerville release.
Personally, I am quite impressed from the performance of Michael Kiske on the song “Breathing”. His ability to transform a simple piano-driven composition into an unforgettable emotional experience is unique. Especially in the slow ballads, Kiske successfully goes straight to the heart with his soaring vocals. Even though his intensely passionate vocals with the memorable lines shine through the entire album.
In conclusion, the album has a lot of catchy melodies that are accompanied by wonderful orchestral passages and a truly thrilling performance by Michael Kiske. The album is powerful and raw, and it really stands out in the melodic rock. It is a step forward for Place Vendome that won’t disappoint the fans of melodic music.