Former Helloween lead singer Michael Kiske returns with the surprising self-titled debut from Place Vendome. In place of Helloween's thrashy speed metal, a sound that helped pave the way for both Pantera and their followers and the Scandinavian death metal scene, Place Vendome is considerably more melodic. Place Vendome is in no way a metal album; instead, it's crisp '80s-style AOR/hard rock with glossy, commercial sound. Currently unfashionable bands along the lines of Styx and Night Ranger are Kiske's touchstones on songs like the catchy single "I Will Be Waiting" and the obligatory lighters-aloft power ballad "Heaven's Door." His primary cohort, Pink Cream 69 leader Uwe Reitenauer, does occasionally scuff up the pristine surfaces of the songs with some chunky, distorted guitar riffs, but the overall effect is no more metal than, say, Ted Nugent's contributions to Damn Yankees. Fans of old-school FM rock will approve of Place Vendome, but die-hard Helloween fans should listen before they buy.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason