Place Vendome: ‘Close To The Sun’

Released on February 24, 2017 (Frontiers Records)

Some artists, who keep on releasing new albums which in itself is a good thing, have a tendency to pull off what I call “a swing.”  By that, I mean that for every good album released, they tend to follow up with a mediocre one at best. I do not know what may be the reasons behind such patterns, but my guess is that some of that may just come from sheer laziness. Some musicians basically release the re-recorded versions of whatever material didn’t make it on their previous, better sounding releases, only then filling it in with some additional new songs (some of which are often considered “filler”).

That is why I am glad to listen to albums masterminded by the one and only Michael Kiske, a former vocalist of European power metal veterans Helloween, and a very skilled singer with perfect technique and an impressive vocal range. Kiske’s got a lot of projects going on, but his signature vessel to release new music is a band he created with Serafino Perugino, the president of Frontiers Records, in which he shares space with a flock of skilled, albeit not that very known musicians such as Dennis Ward on bass and Uwe Reitenauer on guitar, both known for playing for the semi successful ’90s European  hard rock act Pink Cream 69.

Beginning of 2017 saw a latest release by this secret  “super group” called Place Vendome. I use this term with full responsibility, as they might not be the most known group of musicians out there, but technically they can go head to head with the best in business. The album in question, Close To The Sun, is a collection of really skillfully written perfectly performed songs, stylistically ranging from heavy metal to hard rock, AOR, and even with some swings at symphonic metal.

My point is that this album continues in the tradition of this band releasing high quality music. What I particularly like about this release though, is that albeit being very stellar and a solid chunk of music, it still is quite versatile track wise. The songs don’t blend in with each other, they differ between each other, but sound wise they are still stylistically consistent. What you have here are a lot of the flavors of the same pie, but you don’t get soup mushrooms sauce dumped all over it!

All songs here keep a solid level, but my favorites are “Welcome To The Edge,” “Helen” and “Riding the Ghost.” Kiske delivers splendid clean vocals, showing his signature range all over the place. The band also delivers flawlessly. The record features a lot of musical cameos, with guest guitar solos by Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne), Kai Hansen (ex-Helloween, Gamma Ray, Unisonic), Mandy Meyer (Krokus, ex-Asia, Unisonic), Alfred Koffler (Pink Cream 69), Magnus Karlsson, Simone Mularoni and Michael Kleins.

Sometimes when you have a grouping of such well-polished musicians, there is a risk that songwriting wise, they may not be as good as they are technically skilled. Here however, with songs like ”Distant Skies” and particularly the majestic “Strong,” one can hear for him/herself that is not the case. The songwriting fits the skills and genre of the music showcased on the album to a T.

All in all, it would be hard for me to predict whether this album might be a contender for the top album of the year spot, as this is really still February, but at the same time, I think the deliveries throughout 2017 have to be really powerful for “Close To The Sun” not to make the ballot. In short, another solid, stellar release from a solid, stellar band.

Track List:
01. Close To The Sun
02. Welcome To The Edge
03. Hereafter
04. Strong
05. Across The Times
06. Riding The Ghost
07. Light Before The Dark
08. Falling Star
09. Breathing
10. Yesterday Is Gone
11. Helen
12. Distant Skies

Band Members:
Michael Kiske – vocals
Uwe Reitenauer – guitars
Dennis Ward – bass guitar
Dirk Bruinenberg – drums
Gunther Werno – keyboards

Guest Musicians:
Gus G
(Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne) – guitar solo (7)
Kai Hansen (ex-Helloween, Gamma Ray, Unisonic) – guitar solo (5, 6)
Magnus Karlssonn – guitar solo (8)
Mandy Meyer (Krokus, ex-Asia, Unisonic) – guitar solo (11)
Alfred Koffler (Pink Cream 69) – guitar solo (2)
Simone Mularoni – guitar solo (3)
Michael Klein – guitar solo (4, 9, 10, 12)

Produced by Dennis Ward

Band Websites:
Official Website (Michael Kiske)
Twitter (Michael Kiske)

Reviewed by Fat Peter for Sleaze Roxx, February 2017

Place Vendome‘s “Hereafter” lyric video :

Place Vendome – “HereAfter” (Official Lyric Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – From the album CLOSE TO THE SUN.

Place Vendome‘s “Welcome To The Edge” lyric video :

Place Vendome – “Welcome to the Edge” (Official Lyric Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – From the album CLOSE TO THE SUN.