"The Unexpected" (AFM Records/Rock Inc.; 2006)

Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

Uli Kusch is one of Germany’s leading and most influential musicians in metal today. Being the drummer for Gamma Ray, Helloween, and, more recently, Master Plan, Kusch has earned his place amongst the finest in Europe. With a new band, Kusch is doing ... wait for it ... the unexpected! Launching not only his new band but the amazingly talented vocalist Magali Luyten as well, Uli is paving the way for his future and creating a new direction for metal in particular.

“The Unexpected” is exactly what the title states. Hardly ever did a metal band have such an impact with their debut. Is it because I always expect German bands to sound familiar or because I simply got caught off guard by the power of expression on this disc? 

Rock-hard melodic metal tracks like "Lost," with great interaction between top notch vocalist Luyten (with her dark, haunting and monstrous voice), can be counted among some of the best of this year. Keyboard pumped melodic metal with finger-licking sweet harmonies on “This is Not the Original Dream," the raging “The Spark of Ignition” and “Give Up Once For All” with its nice guitar harmonies are standouts as well. Magali shines like a star with her powerful crystal clear voice. No high-pitched, over-the-top vocals here, but sheer power in the vein of Phantom Blue’s Gigi Hanach! “Closer to my Heart” is a heartfelt ballad with great orchestration and a warm and introverted Magali. “Take Me Home” is a typical German metal track suitable for fans of Master Plan and Helloween, with rolling drums and Teutonic keyboards underneath thick-layered choirs. 

The only track which doesn’t truly fit here is "Brace of Impact," an impressive but misplaced showcase of the musical skills of the instrumentalists performing on this outstanding CD. The track features Kusch's drums and Kokmo’s pumping bass lines, colored by the swirling keyboards of fellow Master Planner Mackenrott. The riffs from Lofstad (Pagan’s Mind) are buzzing and firing while his solos scream out with anger. 

Anger is also found in the moans and screams of Magali on “Pechvogel (Unlucky Fellow),” where the contrast between the recognizable melodic chorus and the overall sound is immense. “Metalwaves” does justice to its title, unloading power with screaming riff torture and rolling double bass drums that tickle your testicles. The bridge is a true metal, fists in the air screamer! 

Kusch and Magali’s companions throw a metallic masterpiece at us here, in the vein of Master Plan’s “Aeronautics” classics. A lot of twists and turns uplift the music on “The Unexpected” and boost it sky high. 

Beautiful Sin: Magali Luyten - vocals; Jřrn Viggo Lofstad - guitar; Steinar Krokmo - bass; Axel Mackenrott - keyboards; Uli Kusch - drums. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jun 2018 20:14:11 -0400.