Ride the Sky - New protection 3.5/5

Reviewed: 8-24-07


1. New protection
2. A smile from heaven's eye
3. Silent war
4. The prince of darkness
5. Break the chain
6. Corroded dreams
7. The end of days
8. Far beyond the stars
9. Black cloud
10. Endless
11. Heaven only knows
12. A crack in the wall

Uli Kusch has been nothing if not productive since his departure from Helloween 5 years ago. As well as forming, recording 2 CDs with, and then ultimately departing from Masterplan, he has also started the female fronted Beautiful Sin and re-joined the reactivated Mekong Delta. The latest project to feature the songwriting drummer is Ride the Sky, another supergroup-type project featuring several veterans of the Swedish power metal scene. Specifically, the group is rounded out by vocalist Bjorn Jansson, guitarist Benny Jansson, keyboard player Kasper Dalqvist and bass player Mattias Garnas.

Kusch is due credit for the amount of work that he's been putting in over the last few years, but it has to be said that all the projects he has been involved in as a primary writer have had a certain familiar sound to them, and Ride the Sky are no exception to this, playing a keyboard-heavy, AOR-influenced brand of power metal. While there is a progressive metal aspect to their sound that is not present in either Beautiful Sin or Masterplan, there is no mistaking the similarity between the projects, particularly reinforced by the fact that Jansson has a crooning style very similar to that of former Masterplan singer Jorn Lande.

The best songs on the CD are uplifting and showcase some brilliant musicianship, but there are also those that simply chug along at mid-pace, ending in more or less the exact same place that they begun, relying on some overbearing keyboard playing from Dalqvist to bridge the gaps between the sugary choruses.

"The prince of darkness" is a definite highlight on the CD, a speedy song with some of the most overt progressive metal elements that are quite reminiscent of Circus Maximus. On the other hand, the opening title track is pretty redundant, offering very little that hasn't been heard several times before quite reminiscent, in fact, of 'Lost and gone' from the Materplan CD 'MK II'. This balance (or imbalance) continues throughout the CD, though thankfully with more hits - like the excellent uptempo number "Far beyond the stars" than misses.

The end result is a rather divided combination of AOR-influenced power and progressive metal that for the most part make for entertaining, if not exactly amazing listening. While it is debatable if the metal world really needed another CD in this vein given its similarity to previous projects, there is definitely a market for it those who like the sound of a more progressive Masterplan are definitely going to love it, but anyone hoping that Uli Kusch was going to spread his wings a little with his latest venture are going to be a little disappointed.




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