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Past in Different Ways Frontiers Records
by Franco Wissa
Comments: To complete a list naming the greatest voices in rock and metal it would sure as hell have to include the voice behind Helloween, Michael Kiske. As if taking each song personally, and knowing that it is his voice that completes the sound, Michael Kiske sings his royal lungs out, with a range that is nothing short of astonishing. But even more astonishing is he does it seemingly without effort, always staying in pitch and at depths that allow the body of the song to shine through his vocals. From a low almost hush to his reaching the upper octaves (as heard on "We Got the Right,") this CD will indeed cement him alongside others on that list (Jorn Lande, Goran Edman, Freddie Mercury, Fergie Frederiksen, Joe Caggianelli, Steve Perry, Terry Brock, Lou Gramm, Klaus Meine, David Coverdale, Robert Plant, Brad Delp, Ian Gillan, Roy Kahn, Steve Walsh, Robb Moratti, Joe Lynn Turner and Ronnie James Dio to name just a few.)
Past in Different Ways is a melodic (acoustic) collection of tracks featuring songs from his days in Helloween, and as is assumed is sung without the heavy guitars and pounding drums that made his former project so distinct. Almost in an attempt to leave metal behind him, Michael Kiske slows things way down with acoustic guitars, toned down drums and just enough bass to allow for a solid accompaniment. But make no mistake; there are tracks here that truly showcase a vocal style and talent that is all Michael Kiske -- just as powerful, just as clear and just as controlled, (a listen to "In the Night," from Helloween's Pink Bubbles Go Ape will prove this.) From the violins that open track 1, "You Always Walk Alone," to the stunning orchestral keyboards, acoustic guitars and pianos and sung so beautifully, so passionately, so majestically it will almost bring tears to the listeners is "Longing," (from 1993's Chameleon.) Listen as well to the radiant, mesmerizing following track "Your Turn," and as different as night and day (from the version heard on 1991's Pink Bubbles Go Ape,) is "Kids of the Century." Also excellent are the vocal harmonies heard on "Going Home," with some of the best acoustic guitar heard throughout the CD playing time. Crystal clear, each note audible, with a concrete backdrop of acoustic bass guitar and just the right amount of drums. While on the original, Michael Kiske seems to compete with the loud guitars, here on Past in Different Ways, it is the LACK of guitars on "Kids of the Century," that gives this track a feel all its own. Closing this CD is "When the Past," a sincere track with what sounds like an accordion giving this song warmth, feeling and depth.
In the past Michael Kiske has been almost shunned because of his departure from the genre that made him such a vocal powerhouse. And that is just wrong. Past in Different Ways is his way to grow, try new things, and show the listening world he is indeed capable of so much more than metal. This release, while perhaps a far cry from the style which made him famous, is still a CD that must be listened to. A comparison to Michael Kiske's other work will invariably be made. But made they should -- including the sounds heard on his 2006 self-titled solo (which features the stunning "Fed By Stones," and "Hearts Are Free," and the hard rocking Brother Firetribe/Pink Cream 69/Sunstorm sounding Place Vendome also dazzling due to tracks "Cross the Line," "The Setting Sun," "Heaven's Door," and "I Will Be Gone.") With the same firm production as heard on those releases, these comparisons can only be a good thing.
Michael Kiske - vocals
Sandro Giampietro - guitars
Fontaine Burnett - bass
Karsten Nagel - drums
You Always Walk Alone
We Got the Right
Kids of the Century
In The Night
A Little Time
When the Sinner
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.5/10