Kai Hansen - 'XXX: Three Decades In Metal'

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Kai Hansen - 'XXX: Three Decades In Metal'

Whether he's the keeper of the seven keys, living in the land of the free, or making headlines, Kai Hansen is a Heavy Metal legend and always will be.

You wrote and performed on one of the greatest albums in Heavy Metal history, creating an entire genre because of it, the very same genre you went on to redefine not once, but twice, in two completely different bands cut from the same cloth, and are heralded as a Heavy Metal legend. You've spent thirty years and three decades honing your craft and earning your stripes, so what do you do next? Well, for Helloween, Gamma Ray and Unisonic legend Kai Hansen – one of the founding fathers of Power Metal – you create a ten song-strong concept album tracking the trials and tribulations of the fictional band XXX, whose story is eerily reflective of your own, and invite all of your friends to sing and play on the record. Oh, and you launch it at Wacken Open Air, the biggest Metal festival in your home country, as a once-in-a-lifetime super-show.

With thirty years of genre-shaping graft behind him, Hansen's first ever solo effort is, from its opening moments, a calling-card for new-generation of Metalheads looking to understand the history of their genre, diluted through Power Metal legend guests, eighties ripped-riffs and a concept so stereotypically Heavy Metal it may as well be a Manowar album.

From the initial moments of kick-ass opener 'Born Free' – the only song on the album without a guest – Hansen takes us on a journey through Heavy Metal history, starting off at the dawn of the eighties with a riff worthy of inclusion on a Dio record and a vocal take that Mötley Crüe would croon for. Heavy fucking Metal and Glam Rock go hand-in-hand in this balls-out mission statement before transforming into the all-out Dio-aping 'Enemies Of Fun', which is as fast as a shark and as snappy as a piranha, piling through traditional Riff and Roll territory.



The light-hearted rags-to-riches-to-rags rise-and-fall concept 'XXX' entails is brought to life by its Power Metal-dominated super-cast featuring the likes of Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Tobias Sammet (Avantasia/Edguy), Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween), Clementine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis) and Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) among others; Snider's vocal range taking 'Contract Song' to a whole new level, with its fast and furious, back-and-forth riffs twisting and turning with the schizophrenic singing-to-speaking-to-screeching vocals and the chant-aplenty chorus – "sign the bloody contract, better sign it twice!"

From its 'Brave New World' era Iron Maiden-influenced epic 'Stranger In Time' to the Progressive power solos and dual-vocal, dual-gender harmonies of 'Fire & Ice' to the Grunge-tinged Alt-Metal of 'Left Behind', 'XXX' experiments over and over, creating nothing new with its recycled elements of Heavy Metal history, instead opting to unleash a beast of album-slaying proportions, proving that even after thirty years of inventing the game, you can still hit the ground running.

If ten super-strong songs weren't enough, 'XXX' is a two-disc spectacular, the second stripping it back with Hansen only vocals, shining the spotlight solely on the curator of this spectacle, proving yet again that, whether he's the keeper of the seven keys, living in the land of the free, or making headlines, Kai Hansen is a Heavy Metal legend and always will be.

Jack Press

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