PLACE VENDOME – Place Vendome

PLACE VENDOME - Place Vendome


Frontiers Records
Release date: October 10, 2005

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The Information Technology/Computer/Internet professional field is infamous for coming up with its share of acronyms and “slang.” One such example is “Vaporware,” which, according to the twenty-first edition of Newton’s Telecom Dictionary, is “a semi-affectionate slang word for software that has been announced, perhaps even demonstrated, but not delivered to commercial customers.” The project, “Place Vendome,” is perhaps the clear-cut, shining winner of 2005’s best “Vaporband” in the Melodic Rock/AOR category. Sadly, Place Vendome, the “band” … featuring ex-Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske, is more of a one-off project versus an actual band. In an interview posted on a Kiske fan site, PC69’s Dennis Ward (Producer and “Project Leader”) states that the project was completely initiated and pre-arranged by the Frontiers Record label. There were no rehearsals, and Ward and a few other musicians wrote the songs, learned them and followed the recording direction of Ward to lay down the tracks. Vocalist Kiske, also hand-picked by Frontiers, actually recorded the vocal tracks in his own private studio. The label even suggested the project’s name and consequently album title, Place Vendome. While this all makes for entertaining reading, it would all be without substance if the resulting material itself wasn’t so damned polished and well executed.

Album opener, “Cross The Line,” really sets expectations high, as it’s an utter gem. Indeed, it’s the heaviest of the bunch, but the production, guitars, background vocals, and Kiske’s lead vocals completely shine. It’s wonderful to hear how Kiske so effortlessly uses vibrato on his voice throughout the splendid choruses on this track. At times throughout the release, Kiske is comparable and reminiscent to the undeniably stellar Tony Harnell (TNT/Starbreaker). Kiske has the same flair as Harnell to make any song sound alive and exciting. It’s truly hard to believe that he recorded the vocals for this release separately from the rest of the band.

The remaining tracks are slightly less heavy, but are no less shining. Take for example the outstanding Kiske vocals and catchy, emotional chorus in “I Will Be Waiting.” “I Will Be Gone” starts out with a slightly heavy backbeat and its here, early on, that Harnell comparisons are evident. The other highlight is the moody closing track, “Sign Of The Times,” with its memorable chorus that sites such excellent lines as “like a bullet, unforgiving, shot through your heart …,” all built on a steady drumbeat and backing guitar rhythm. There’s no denying the captivation created by the wonderful match of Ward’s songwriting coupled with the splendid execution of Kiske’s vocals.

While Kiske steals the show on this release, an honorable mention is also due to the supporting band members. Presumably, picked by Ward (who plays Bass) are Kosta Zafiriou (Drums) and Uwe Reitenauer (Guitars), both fellow Pink Cream 69 bandmates, with Gunter Werno from Vandenplas playing keyboards. They all come together to provide a steady and confident foundation for Kiske’s shining performance.

Sadly, it’s unlikely that this line-up will ever produce such another stellar release in the AOR/Melodic Rock vein such as Place Vendome. Not only due to the strange originations of the project itself, but also due to Kiske’s expressed disinterest in doing another “Heavy Metal” or “Melodic Hard Rock” release ever again. On Kiske’s own website, he posted his displeasure in the fact that this release sounds heavier then he expected in some areas, while also commenting on his disdain for the “Heavy Metal” lifestyle. All this ink makes for wonderful reading, but it shouldn’t displace the fact that this is one well-done and outstanding release for 2005. Get yourself a copy just to savor the wonderful and powerful vocals of Kiske, as the Hard Rock community has surely said goodbye to one of its finest modern day vocalists this year!


Michael Kiske – Vocals, Background Vocals
Kosta Zafiriou – Drums
Uwe Reitenauer – Guitar
Gunter Werno – Keyboards
Dennis Ward – Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals, Production


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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