Michael Kiske

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Michael Kiske
Michael Kiske w Avantasia (2013).jpg
Michael Kiske live with Avantasia in 2013
Background information
Born (1968-01-24) January 24, 1968 (age 46)
Hamburg, Germany
Genres Heavy metal, power metal, symphonic metal, speed metal, hard rock, AOR, pop rock, acoustic
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, tambourine
Years active 1985–present
Associated acts Unisonic, Helloween,
Place Vendome, Avantasia, Kiske/Somerville, SupaRed, Revolution Renaissance, Avalon
Website www.michael-kiske.de

Michael Kiske (born January 24, 1968 in Hamburg, Germany) is a singer best known as the former lead vocalist for the German power metal band Helloween. After his departure from the band, Kiske recorded four solo albums, participated on various metal and rock related projects, such as Avantasia, Place Vendome and Kiske/Somerville, while he also performed with numerous bands as a guest vocalist. In late 2009, he formed the rock band Unisonic and began touring again after 17 years.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Prior to joining Helloween, Kiske sang with the German band Ill Prophecy at the age of 17. The band recorded a demo, but it was never released commercially.[2]

Helloween (1986-1993)[edit]

At the age of eighteen, Kiske was asked to join the German power metal band Helloween, which was fronted by singer/guitarist Kai Hansen. Hansen had some difficulties being both the lead guitarist and lead vocalist, and it was decided that a new vocalist would be needed. Kiske rejected Helloween's first offer, because he disliked the sound of the band's Walls of Jericho album, but accepted the second and joined Helloween in late 1986. Michael's first album with the band was 1987's Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I, widely considered to be one of Helloween's best albums and a milestone in the creation of the power metal genre. The album's worldwide success enabled the band to embark on an extensive world tour and perform at famous festivals such as Monsters Of Rock.[2][3] Helloween went on to release Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II in 1988, which went gold in Germany and brought even more success than it's predecessor.[4] The Keeper of the Seven Keys albums proved to be highly influential and aided in the formation of a new wave of European power metal bands, such as Blind Guardian,[5] Stratovarius,[6] HammerFall[7] and Edguy.[8]

After the completion of the band's 1988 headlining tour, the album Live in the UK was released, while Kai Hansen left the band and was replaced by guitarist Roland Grapow. Legal disputes with their record company, prevented Helloween from releasing new material until 1991's Pink Bubbles Go Ape, which was followed by 1993's Chameleon. These two albums saw the band moving away from their power metal roots and experimenting with different sounds. Both Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon were commercial failures and resulted in Kiske leaving Helloween. Michael was fired from the band in 1993, reportedly for personal reasons. He was replaced by Andi Deris, who has remained with Helloween ever since.[2][3]

Kiske was rumored to be Bruce Dickinson's replacement, after he departed from Iron Maiden in 1993, but the position was filled by Blaze Bayley.[9]

Solo work (1996-2008)[edit]

On August 16, 1996, three years after leaving Helloween, Kiske released his first solo album, Instant Clarity.[10] The album featured guest appearances by Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, Kai Hansen and Ciriaco Taraxes and contained songs in a wide variety of styles. A music video for the ballad "Always", dedicated to deceased Helloween drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, was filmed and produced in New York City. Instant Clarity was reissued in 2006 with the addition of 4 bonus tracks.[11][12] During the same year he also wrote a book, 'Kunst Und Materialismus', which is only available in German.[2]

His second solo album, Readiness to Sacrifice, was released in Korea and Japan in 1999, and in Europe in 2001. The music on the album featured Michael moving completely away from his heavy metal roots and even contained two symphonic songs.[2]

In 2003, out of desire to make rock music again, Kiske formed a project, named SupaRed. They released a self-titled album in January 2003. This album had a modern rock sound and a song structure, distinct from both his solo albums and the heavy metal sound of Helloween. The project was under promoted and unsuccessful and he dissolved the band.[2]

In 2006, Michael Kiske released his third full-length solo album under the name of Kiske.[13][14] The album contained songs in a mellow, acoustic singer-songwriter style and was a step away from the sound of his previous solo albums. According to Michael "It's a healthy-careless and musically free album. I am very proud of this record because it is a true statement from myself".[14]

In 2008, Kiske released his fourth solo work, entitled Past in Different Ways.[15] The album contained acoustic re-arrangements of his old Helloween material and one new song.[16] According to Kiske the album "on one hand shows that I don't reject my past just because I'm a different person today, and on the other hand it can maybe give people who were part of that past a different view at those songs".[17]

Avantasia (2000-2013)[edit]

Avantasia live in 2010. Left to right - Michael Kiske, Tobias Sammet and Kai Hansen
Michael Kiske live with Avantasia in 2013

In 2000, Tobias Sammet (vocalist of the band Edguy) asked Kiske to participate in the rock opera project Avantasia.[2] Michael agreed to sing on the project, in the role of Lugaid Vandroiy, but only under the nickname of Ernie. The nickname was printed on the back of the first Avantasia release, The Metal Opera, but not on the sequel, The Metal Opera Part II, where he was featured under his real name.[2][18] Michael said in interviews that, at that time, he did not want people to link him to heavy metal anymore. He had a main role in the concept of the Metal Opera albums and performed on the songs "Reach Out For The Light", "Breaking Away", "Farewell", "Avantasia", "The Tower", "The Seven Angels" and "No Return".[19]

During 2007, he recorded guest vocals for two Avantasia tracks; "Promised Land" and "Lost In Space [Extended Version]", both of which appeared on the Lost in Space Part I & II compilation album ("Promised Land" was also featured on the EP Lost in Space Part II).[20][21]

In 2008, Michael took part in the Avantasia album The Scarecrow, singing lead on the track "Shelter From The Rain" and backing on the title track and on "What Kind Of Love".[22]

During 2010, Kiske performed on the Avantasia albums The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon, singing on the tracks "Wastelands", "Runaway Train" and "Stargazers".[23][24] Between November and December, he also took part in "The Metal Opera Comes to Town Tour", sharing the stage with Tobias Sammet, Kai Hansen, Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Amanda Somerville, Sascha Paeth, and Oliver Hartmann among others.[25]

On August 6, 2011, Michael performed with Avantasia at the Wacken Open Air festival.

During 2013, Kiske took part in the Avantasia album The Mystery of Time, singing on the songs "Where Clock Hands Freeze", "Savior In The Clockwork" and "Dweller In A Dream". Between April and August, he also participated on "The Mystery World Tour", which included 10 European festival appearances and 3 hour long shows in South America, Japan, Russia and Europe.[26][27]

Place Vendome (2005-2013)[edit]

In 2005, Kiske took part in the Place Vendome project, on Frontiers Records.[28] Place Vendome was composed of Dennis Ward (bass and production), Kosta Zafiriou (drums) and Uwe Reitenauer (guitars) from the German band Pink Cream 69, Gunther Werno (keyboards) from the band Vanden Plas and Kiske on vocals. The project's debut album, Place Vendome, was a blend of melodic hard rock and AOR (comparable to the sound of bands such as Foreigner or Journey) and the majority of the songwriting was provided by Dennis Ward.[29]

In 2009, the Place Vendome project released its second album entitled Streets of Fire.[30][31] A video was filmed for the song "My Guardian Angel", marking Michael's visual return since 1996. The songwriting for the second album was provided by musicians Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Torsti Spoof (Leverage), Ronny Milianowicz (Saint Deamon) and Robert Sall (Work of Art).[32]

In 2013, Frontiers Records released Place Vendome's third album entitled Thunder In The Distance.[33] A video was filmed for the song "Talk To Me". The songwriting for this release was provided by musicians Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline), Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), Brett Jones, Tommy Denander (Radioactive), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Sören Kronqvist (Sunstorm), Roberto Tiranti and Andrea Cantarelli (Labyrinth).[34]

Kiske/Somerville (2009-2014)[edit]

In late 2009, Kiske collaborated with female vocalist Amanda Somerville in a duet project, put together by Frontiers Records. The project was named Kiske/Somerville and it marked the contribution of musicians Mat Sinner, Magnus Karlsson, Sander Gommans, Martin Schmidt and Jimmy Kresic.[35] The album was released on September 24, 2010, under the name Kiske/Somerville. Two videos were filmed for the songs "Silence" and "If I Had A Wish", enabling most of the participants to actually meet in person.[36]

In October 2013 Amanda Somerville confirmed that a second Kiske/Somerville album is planned for 2014.[37]

Unisonic (since 2009)[edit]

Michael Kiske live with Unisonic at Rockwave Festival (2012)
Michael Kiske live with Unisonic at Skogsröjet Festival (2012)

On November 10, 2009, Michael formed the band Unisonic together with Dennis Ward, Kosta Zafiriou and Mandy Meyer.[38] Unisonic began their first short tour in June 2010, playing some warm-up shows in Germany and performing at Sweden Rock Festival and Masters Of Rock Festival as well. In March 2011, Kai Hansen joined the band[39][40] and on October 15 the new line-up performed its first show at Loud Park Festival (Japan).[41]

The band released the EP Ignition, together with their first video for the song "Unisonic" in January 2012, through EarMusic (Edel AG).[42] The release of their self-titled debut album followed on 30 March 2012.[43][44] The debut album entered several international music charts, scoring the highest points on the Finnish albums chart, Japanese albums chart, German albums chart and Swedish albums chart.[45]

Unisonic embarked on their first world tour in May 2012 performing in South America[46] and in various European music festivals, such as Masters of Rock,[47] Hellfest,[48] Rock Hard Festival[49] and Gods of Metal[50] among others. The second half of the tour included concerts in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Russia, Spain and Germany.[51]

In April 2014 the band announced that their new EP, For The Kingdom, will be released in May 2014 and their second album on 25 July 2014. Unisonic also announced some tour dates for the summer festivals of Masters Of Rock, Leyendas del Rock, Skogsrojet and Bang Your Head.[52][53]

Collaborations and guest appearances[edit]

In 1995, Kiske participated as a guest on Gamma Ray's (Kai Hansen's band, formed after his departure from Helloween in late 1988) Land of the Free album, singing lead vocals on the song "Time To Break Free" and additional vocals on the title track.[2]

During 2002, Michael sang the song "Key to the Universe", which was featured on Timo Tolkki's (guitarist of the band Stratovarius) solo album Hymn to Life.[2]

In 2003, Kiske sang on the duet "Heroes" (together with Jorn Lande), featured on Masterplan's self-titled debut album.[2]

In 2004, he took part in the metal opera Days of Rising Doom by Aina, in the role of the Narrator, singing on the songs "Revelations", "Silver Maiden", "Serendipity" and "Restoration".[2][54] During the same year he also sang on the duet "The Encounter", together with the female vocalist of the band Thalion on their debut album Another Sun.[2]

During 2005, Kiske was a guest on the heavy metal album Execution by the band Tribuzy, singing on the duet "Absolution".[55] Following this participation Kiske also sang as a guest on the song "Judas At The Opera", featured on Edguy's Superheroes EP.[2]

In 2007, Michael sang on the duet "Breathe In Water", together with the female vocalist of the band Indigo Dying on their self-titled debut album.[56][57]

During 2008, Timo Tolkki departed from Stratovarius and formed the band Revolution Renaissance. The band's debut album, New Era, was recorded by session musicians and Kiske on the role of the main singer, performing vocals for the tracks "I Did It My Way", "Angel", "Keep The Flame Alive", "Last Night On Earth" and "Revolution Renaissance".[58][59]

In 2009, he was a guest on Trick or Treat's album Tin Soldiers, singing all vocals on the song "Hello Moon" and additional lead vocals on the duet "Tears Against Your Smile".[60][61]

During 2010, he recorded guest vocals for the song "All You Need To Know", featured on Gamma Ray's To The Metal album.[62]

In 2011, Kiske appeared as a special guest in Gamma Ray's concert in Pratteln (Switzerland). The full show was released in both CD and DVD under the name Skeletons & Majesties Live in 2012.[63] Michael sings on the songs "Time To Break Free", "A While In Dreamland" and "Future World".[64]

Michael Kiske live with the Christmas Metal Symphony in 2013

In 2012, Michael sang the song "The Ethereal Dream (Reprise)", featured on the album 34613 by the project Tomorrow's Outlook.[65]

During 2013, Kiske took part in Timo Tolkki's metal opera project Avalon. Michael sang the self-titled track on the project's debut album The Land of New Hope.[66] In the same year he also sang as a guest on the duet "Fly", featured on Infinita Symphonia's self-titled album.[67] During December, he participated in the "Christmas Metal Symphony 2013 tour", sharing the stage with Joey Belladonna, Udo Dirkschneider, Chuck Billy, Joacim Cans, Floor Jansen and a symphonic orchestra.[68]

Singing style[edit]

In comparison to Kai Hansen, Kiske had a more vibrant and clean voice. Some fans and critics have likened his singing style and range to that of Geoff Tate or a young Samson-era Bruce Dickinson, with shades of Rob Halford. He has a tenor type voice[69] and possesses an almost 4 octave vocal range, as he is capable of reaching extremely high notes (A5) and low baritone notes (C2) as well.[70][71] Kiske's time in Helloween has proved to be highly influential[72][73] and many singers cite him as a major influence.[8][74][75][76][77]

Recognition and honors[edit]

Named favorite vocalist Rank:5. In Burrn! (Japanese magazine) Readers poll (April 2012)[78]

Named best vocalist of 2012. In Burrn! (Japanese magazine) issue 2013-04 (April 2013) [79]

Named best all-time singer in rock and metal Rank:18. In German Metal Hammer readers poll (June 2013) [80]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

As a participant[edit]

Helloween[edit]

Avantasia[edit]

SupaRed[edit]

Place Vendome[edit]

Kiske/Somerville[edit]

Unisonic[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]