Michael Kiske live with Avantasia in 2013
|Born||24 January 1968|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards, tambourine|
|Labels||Frontiers, Noise Records|
Michael Kiske (born January 24, 1968) is a German singer best known as the lead vocalist for the German power metal band Helloween. After his departure from the band in 1993, 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 hard rock band Unisonic and began touring again after 17 years of absence. In October 2017, Kiske joined Helloween and Kai Hansen for the Pumpkins United World Tour that continued through 2018. A live recording of the Helloween tour entitled United Alive and United Alive in Madrid was released in 2019 and a new Helloween album with Kiske and Hansen is planned for 2021.
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.
Helloween (1986–1993, 2017–present)
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. 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 its predecessor. 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, Stratovarius, HammerFall and Edguy.
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. Kiske was fired from the band in 1993, reportedly for personal reasons. He was replaced by Pink Cream 69's Andi Deris, who has remained with Helloween ever since.
In 2016, it was announced that Michael Kiske would join Helloween, together with Kai Hansen, for a reunion tour that would take place during 2017 and 2018. The Pumpkins United World Tour started in October 2017 in South America and continued in Europe with concerts lasting close to three hours. On December 8, 2017 the single Pumpkins United, featuring the reunited line-up, was released. The reunion tour continued throughout 2018 in Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Europe, North America, Canada and Latin America. The Pumpkins United World Tour was the biggest one in the band's history as it comprised 69 shows and lasted for 14 months. A live DVD/Blu-ray entitled United Alive and the live album United Alive in Madrid were released on October 4, 2019.
The band embarked on a Brazilian tour in September 2019, which started at Rockfest (Sao Paulo) and ended with their performance at the Rock In Rio Festival. A new studio album with Kiske and Hansen is due to be released in 2020.
Solo work (1996–2008)
On August 16, 1996, three years after leaving Helloween, Kiske released his first solo album, Instant Clarity. 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. During the same year he also wrote a book, 'Kunst Und Materialismus', which is only available in German. Instant Clarity was reissued in 2006 with the addition of 4 bonus tracks.
His second solo album, Readiness to Sacrifice, which included some songs by Ciriaco Taraxes, 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.
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.
In 2006, Michael Kiske released his third full-length solo album under the name of Kiske. 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".
In 2008, Kiske released his fourth solo work, entitled Past in Different Ways. The album contained acoustic re-arrangements of his old Helloween material and one new song. 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".
Avantasia (since 2000)
In 2000, Tobias Sammet (vocalist of the band Edguy) asked Kiske to participate in the rock opera project Avantasia. 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. 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".
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).
During 2010, Kiske performed on the Avantasia albums The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon, singing on the tracks "Wastelands", "Runaway Train" and "Stargazers". Between November and December, he also took part in "The Metal Opera Comes to Town Tour", sharing the stage with Tobias Sammet, Kai Hansen, Jørn Lande, Bob Catley, Amanda Somerville, Sascha Paeth, and Oliver Hartmann among others.
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.
On August 2, 2014, Michael performed with Avantasia at the Wacken Open Air festival once again.
In 2016, Kiske participated in the Avantasia album Ghostlights, singing on the songs "Ghostlights", "Unchain The Light" and on the bonus track "Wake Up To The Moon". Between March and August of the same year, he was part of the biggest Avantasia tour, entitled "Ghostlights World Tour", which consisted of more than 40 concerts in Europe, North America, South America, Canada, Japan, Russia and Scandinavia.
Place Vendome (2005–2017)
In 2005, Kiske took part in the Place Vendome project, on Frontiers Records. Place Vendome consisted 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.
In 2009, the Place Vendome project released its second album entitled Streets of Fire. 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).
In 2013, Frontiers Records released Place Vendome's third album entitled Thunder in the Distance. The songwriters for this release were 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). A video was filmed for the song "Talk To Me".
In 2017, the Place Vendome project released its fourth album entitled Close to the Sun. The album featured songs written by Magnus Karlsson, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Jani Liimatainen (Cain's Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica), Olaf Thorsen (Vision Divine, Labyrinth), Fabio Lione (Vision Divine, Angra, ex-Rhapsody of Fire), Simone Mularoni (DGM), Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere) and Mike Palace. In addition, it was be the first Place Vendome album to feature 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), Michael Klein, Magnus Karlsson and Simone Mularoni.
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. The self-titled debut album was released on September 24, 2010. Two videos were filmed for the songs "Silence" and "If I Had A Wish", enabling most of the participants to actually meet in person.
The second Kiske/Somerville album entitled City of Heroes was released on April 17, 2015. Mat Sinner, Magnus Karlsson and Veronika Lukesova handled the instrumentation, while Jacob Hansen and Sinner were in charge of the production. Two music videos were filmed for the songs "City Of Heroes" and "Walk On Water".
Unisonic (since 2009)
On November 10, 2009, Michael formed the band Unisonic together with Dennis Ward, Kosta Zafiriou and Mandy Meyer. Unisonic began a 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. This small tour marked Kiske's return to the live stages after 17 years of absence. In March 2011, Kai Hansen joined the band, and on October 15 the new line-up performed its first show at Loud Park Festival (Japan).
The band released the EP Ignition, together with their first video for the song "Unisonic" in January 2012, through EarMusic (Edel AG). The release of their self-titled debut album followed on March 30, 2012. 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.
Unisonic embarked on their first world tour in May 2012 performing in South America and in various European music festivals, such as Masters of Rock, Hellfest, Rock Hard Festival and Gods of Metal among others. The second half of the tour included concerts in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Russia, Spain and Germany.
The band's second EP, For the Kingdom, came out in May 2014, the video for the song "Exceptional" followed in July, while their second album, Light of Dawn, was released on August 1, 2014. Light of Dawn entered several international music charts, scoring the highest entries on the Finnish albums chart, German Albums Chart, Swiss albums chart, Czech albums chart and Japanese Albums Chart.
The band embarked on a summer festival tour in July 2014, performing at Masters Of Rock, Leyendas del Rock, Moscow Metal Meeting, Bang Your Head, Skogsrojet and Rock Pod Kamenom. A Japanese and European tour together with Edguy followed, while the band's final show was at the Knock Out Festival in December 2014.
Collaborations and guest appearances
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.
In 2003, Kiske 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". During the same year he also sang on the duet "Heroes" (together with Jørn Lande), featured on Masterplan's self-titled debut album.
In 2004, Michael sang on the duet "The Encounter", together with the female vocalist of the band Thalion on their debut album Another Sun.
During 2005, Kiske was a guest on the heavy metal album Execution by the band Tribuzy, singing on the duet "Absolution". Following this participation Kiske also sang as a guest on the song "Judas at the Opera", featured on Edguy's Superheroes EP.
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".
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. Michael sings on the songs "Time To Break Free", "A While in Dreamland" and "Future World".
In 2012, Michael sang the song "The Ethereal Dream (Reprise)", featured on the album 34613 by the project Tomorrow's Outlook.
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. In the same year he also sang as a guest on the duet "Fly", featured on Infinita Symphonia's self-titled album. 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.
In 2014, he sang on the duet "Black And White Forever", featured on Starchild's self-titled debut album.
During 2015, Kiske sang as a guest on the title track of the Wolfpakk album Rise of the Animal. In August of the same year he sang as a special guest with Rock Meets Classic (a project featuring Mat Sinner and the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague) performing at the Rock of Ages Festival and at Wacken Open Air Festival. On September 19, he performed at the Rock In Rio festival with the band Noturnall.
In 2016, he participated as a guest vocalist on the Hansen & Friends XXX : 30 Years of Metal album and on the project's performance at Wacken Open Air Festival. The live performance was recorded and released on both CD and DVD under the title Hansen & Friends Thank You Wacken, on June 23, 2017. During the same year he also sang on the duet "Halleluja" with Swedish singer Aino Löwenmark, featured on her album "Human". He returned to work on this recording with ex.SupaRed-members guitar player Sandro Giampietro and drummer Jürgen Spiegel.
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 and possesses an almost 4 octave vocal range, as he is capable of reaching extremely high notes (A5) and low baritone notes (E2) as well. Kiske's time in Helloween has proven to be highly influential and many singers cite him as a major influence.
Recognition and honors
- Instant Clarity (1996)
- Always (EP) (1996)
- The Calling (1996)
- Readiness to Sacrifice (1999)
- Kiske (2006)
- Past in Different Ways (2008)
- Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I (1987)
- Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II (1988)
- Live in the UK (1989; Live Album)
- Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
- Chameleon (1993)
- Pumpkins United - Single (2017)
- United Alive in Madrid (2019; Live Album)
- Avantasia (Single) (2001)
- The Metal Opera (2001)
- The Metal Opera Part II (2002)
- Lost in Space Part II (EP) (2007)
- Lost in Space Part I & II (2008)
- The Scarecrow (2008)
- The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon (2010)
- The Mystery of Time (2013)
- Ghostlights (2016)
- Moonglow (2019)
- SupaRed (2003)
with Place Vendome
- Ignition (2012, EP)
- Unisonic (2012)
- For the Kingdom (2014, EP)
- Light of Dawn (2014)
- Live in Wacken (2017; Live Album)
- Gamma Ray – Land of the Free (1995)
- Timo Tolkki – Hymn to Life (2002)
- Masterplan – Masterplan (2003)
- Aina – Days of Rising Doom (2003)
- Thalion – Another Sun (2004)
- Tribuzy – Execution (2005)
- Edguy – Superheroes (2005)
- Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy (2005)(sampled)
- Indigo Dying – Indigo Dying (2007)
- Revolution Renaissance – New Era (2008)
- Trick or Treat – Tin Soldiers (2009)
- Gamma Ray – To the Metal! (2010)
- Gamma Ray – Skeletons & Majesties Live (2012; Live Album)
- Tomorrow's Outlook - 34613 (2012)
- Timo Tolkki's Avalon – The Land of New Hope (2013)
- Infinita Symphonia – Infinita Symphonia (2013)
- Starchild - Starchild (2014)
- Wolfpakk – Rise of the Animal (2015)
- Aino Löwenmark – Human (2016)
- Hansen & Friends - XXX : 30 Years of Metal (2016)
- Hansen & Friends - Thank You Wacken (2017; Live Album)
- Marius Danielsen - Legend of Valley Doom part 2 (2018)
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