This is indeed a triple XXX rated for metal album. Kai Hansen is the name we should all be known by three decades ago. He was the front man of Helloween. His screaming and fast guitar playing is what transformed Helloween into international pioneer in speed and power metal. Soon after he departed, Kai is forming Gamma Ray, which existed till today with dozen of awesome power metal albums. XXX-Three Decades in Metal sounds like a compilation of his works but it is not. This album is somewhat a solo works by Kai Hansen and invited friends. Here the album compiled together awesome names in metal. He reunited with fellow ex-Helloweeneers such as Michael Kiske and Roland Grapow. He even invited Michael Weikath to do their legendary guitar duet in this album. Apart from that, many names such as Ralf Shceepers, Dee Snider, Tobias Sammet and others appeared on the album.
Overall, surprisingly, this album sounds heavy metal in general. Kai Hansen welcomely explored the straight forward heavy metal and not very much doing his trademark power metal genre he grown up with. The first song "Born Free" is very '80s American hair-metal sounding. It is just awesome guitar riff with fast double metal showering. Kai's voices is what connected us with his identity. On the reunion jamming party, here comes song "Stranger In Time" with Kiske, Sammet, and Frank Beck + Roland Grapow put in together. The song may well put into late Helloween era actually, but again it is a straightforward guitar riff + double kick. On the drumming side, Daniel Wilding is recruited for the party. Looking at his "port folio" we will see he was on board with Carcass, Heaven Shall Burn, Trigger The Booldshed and so on. He is very young and haven't even born when the first two Helloween albums on released.
Some of other, longer, song such as "Fire And Ice" gives the minutes to dedicated soloist Michael Weikath solo part. The songs invited talented young vocalist of Clementine Delauney (Vision of Atlantis), Marcus Bischoff (Heaven Shall Burn) and Richard Sjunnesson (The Unguided), thus making the song got a bit taste of Gothic Metal and Death Metal altogether. The other highlight songs are "Making Headlines" which is catchy in song writing, minor key feel and Tobias Sammet really shine the song with his voices. My favorite in the album.
Most interesting is Dee Snider collaboration with Kai Hansen in "Contract Sun". We got to hear how's Hansen doing in the '80 metal style that more close to Dee Snider. The other dark side is "Left Behind", where Kai Hansen further delved into modernity, this is like combination of alternative metal with bit of metalcore feel. The album closed with "Follow The Sun", the only song that brings back Kai Hansen to Helloween-ish power metal.
XXX-Three Decades in Metal happened to be awesome offering from Kai Hansen. The songs are all simple, guitar-riff driven and all focused on some easy melodic song writing. Song structure are not complicated, just enough to repeat the highlight and yet that was all needed. The diversity of styles indicated the intention of the writer to experiments and try out all the other metal styles. Well, after three decades this is what some musicians like to do, isn't it? With majority of songs created based on the guest singer style association, the album become potentially able to reach out more listener. Final words, it is a fine album where Kai Hansen sharpening his musical journey with adventurous songs.
Metal Harem class : ********* nine stars out of ten
Buy it Here - Amazon
Kai Hansen - XXX-Three Decades in Metal (2016)
01. Born Free
02. Enemies Of Fun (Ralf Scheepers & Piet Sielck)
03. Contract Sun (Dee Snider & Steve McT As The Manger)
04. Making Headlines (Tobias Sammet)
05. Stranger In Time (Michael Kiske, Frank Beck, Tobias Sammet & Roland Grapow - Guitar Solo)
06. Fire And Ice (Clementine Delauney, Marcus Bischoff, Richard Sjunnesson & Michael Weikath - Guitar Solo)
07. Left Behind (Alexander Dietz & Clementine Delauney)
08. All Or Nothing (Clémentine Delauney)
09. Burning Bridges (Eike Freese)
10. Follow The Sun (Hansi Kursch & Tim Hansen - Guitar Solo)
Eike Freese - guitar (Dark Age)
Kai Hansen - vocals / guitar (Gamma Ray, Unisonic, ex-Helloween)
Alex Dietz - bass (Heaven Shall Burn)
Daniel Wilding - drums (Carcass, The Soulless, Trigger The Bloodshed)