||KAI HANSEN: SITTING HIGH ON THE METAL PEDESTAL AFTER THIRTY YEARS
Kai Hansen's legacy is undeniable in Heavy Metal history. A co-founding member of Helloween, he is one of the most influential guitarists to come out of Germany. 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys 1 & 2' are considered landmark albums that deserve to sit high on the Metal pedestal. After leaving Helloween in 1988, Hansen formed Gamma Ray, which has become an established metal institution.
This, Hansen's first solo album, recorded at Chameleon Studios in Hamburg, is created with tremendous spirit for the thrill of simply making music. Joining Hansen are Alex Dietz (Heaven Shall Burn) on bass, Eike Freese on guitar and Daniel Wilding (Carcass) on drums.
The album reveals some of Hansen's history, each song based on experiences throughout his career. Looking back on that journey led Kai to donate the royalties from this album to the Wacken Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose entire assets are dedicated solely to the support of hard rock and Metal bands.
The album kicks off with a real sonic burner, 'Born Free'. The opening lyrics, 'Born in the city of Hamburg in 1963…' provide the backbone these songs are built upon. The initial riffing is potent as it elevates into a bona fide Metal anthem. The opening bass line of 'Enemies Of Fun' maintains the infectious classic Metal groove as other instruments begin to fill the sound spectrum around it.
'Contract Sun' and 'Making Headlines' continue Hansen's story with memorable melodies. Being a long-time Twisted Sister fan, it's great to hear Dee lend his vocals to 'Contract Sun'. 'Stranger In Time' brings in the power Metal accents after the haunting intro and 'Fire And Ice' has a thunderous thick guitar tone that gives way to perilous sounding verses.
The diverse 'Left Behind' has a chilling arrangement, the symphonic chorus bouncing off the somber verses interweaved with gloom and despair. 'All Or Nothing' is the closest song to a ballad. Its ominous verses and feelings of desperation in the harmonized chorus provide the despondency. The tempo picks up again with the straight-ahead rocker, 'Burning Bridges', and the blistering 'Follow The Sun' closes the album with force. It's a full-tilt power blast with big guitars, vocals and explosive drums.
'XXX: Three Decades In Metal' is an enjoyable, diverse experience to listen to, each guest contributing their own distinctive touches. There's plenty of Metal octane packed into this album and it's well worth checking out.
Listen on iTunes...
Tracks and Guests:
1. Born Free
2. Enemies Of Fun (featuring Ralf Scheepers & Piet Sielck)
3. Contract Sun (featuring Dee Snider & Steve McT as The Manger)
4. Making Headlines (featuring Tobias Sammet)
5. Stranger In Time (featuring Michael Kiske, Frank Beck, Tobias Sammet & Roland Grapow - guitar solo)
6. Fire And Ice (featuring Clementine Delauney, Marcus Bischoff, Richard Sjunnesson & Michael Weikath - guitar solo)
7. Left Behind (featuring Alexander Dietz & Clementine Delauney)
8. All Or Nothing (featuring Clémentine Delauney)
9. Burning Bridges (featuring Eike Freese)
10. Follow The Sun (featuring Hansi Kirsch & Tim Hansen - guitar solo)
Bonus CD featuring Kai Hansen on vocals