Michael Kiske – Twilight of a vocal god
Like most people, I was introduced to Kiske’s voice via Helloween’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1. He instantly became one of my favorite singers along with Bruce Dickinson, Dio, Jeff Scott Soto and John Arch. He had a very unique voice but was constantly compared to Dickinson. I never got that, but whatever. To this day I still follow Michael’s albums and have only been disappointed a few times along the way. Unfortunately I have never seen them live except for the Hell On Wheels Halloween Show they did on MTV, which was awesome. RIP Ingo!
I just spun Keeper 1 and 2 (NOISE Records 2 CD set) a week or so ago. Keeper 1 holds up well, good songs, great vocals. Keeper 2? Not so much. That album was pretty goofy when it came out and it’s even more so now. Other than Eagle Fly Free, Save Us and I Want Out, the album is pretty awful. When Pink Bubbles Go Ape came out, I was none to thrilled about the title or the album cover. WTF? The album is almost a joke save a few songs like Kids of the Century and Number One. I haven’t spun it in years and not sure when I’ll actually pull it off the shelf again. All that being said, Kiske still had the pipes and could pretty much reach any note he needed to. By the time Chameleon came out, I was really apprehensive about it, and with good reason based on the previous 2 albums. Chameleon is mellow, quiet and was really showing a different side of Helloween…a non-German power metal side. These guys essentially invented that style and ultimately completely abandoned it. While Kiske’s vocals were consistent on this one and while it is a better album than Pink Bubbles, it’s not great…but I still reach for it from time to time. It was a good indicator of what was to come for Kiske.
Kiske left after Chameleon to pursue a solo career. It’s not very often that new like this makes me happy, but this was one of those cases.
I was very excited when Instant Clarity came out in 1996. It featured Adrian Smith and Kai Hansen as guest musicians. The album is fantastic and Adiran’s and Kai’s contributions are certainly noteworthy.
A few years later came Readiness To Sacrifice. While I like this album, it’s certainly even more mellow than the last. You can see that Kiske really wanted to get away from hard rock. And that’s quite alright.
Unfortunately his next project was Supared. I tried and tried to like this post-alternative album, but it just didn’t connect with me at all.
Michael release 2 other solo albums under the moniker “Kiske”: Kiske and Past In Different Ways which was basically his acoustic interpretations of some Helloween classics. It’s not bad at all but the Kiske CD is a bit better.
Then there’s Place Vendome. I simply love the 2 CDs he did with them. Place Vendome and Streets of Fire are basically radio friendly slightly hard rock with, of course, great solos and really nice guitar solos. I highly recommend both of these albums if you like some of the mid-to-latter era Journey works. This is certainly comparable. AOR they call it? Whatever, it’s good stuff.
In summation, I love Kiske’s voice, I always have. I didn’t care much for the offshoot stuff he did with Avantasia etc, I prefer it when he’s the lead singer of a band. I’d love to see him whip out one more metal album but it’ll never happen. I think Place Vendome will be as close as he gets to that stuff ever again.
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