GAMMA RAY – Majestic

GAMMA RAY - Majestic


Release date: September 22, 2005

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Germany’s Gamma Ray should be a well-known band for most in the Metal community, being the band Power Metal founding father Kai Hansen started when he quit Helloween back in the 1980s. For Helloween, that was the beginning of a 15-year period of line-up changes and several albums of very varying quality. Gamma Ray took off with the excellent Heading for Tomorrow and, except for one or two disappointments, have delivered kick ass material ever since.

For most fans, Land of the Free (1995) and Somewhere Out In Space stand as the band’s strongest releases, and also rank high among Hansen’s strongest works ever. The last full-length release, No World Order, was maybe the band’s weakest effort ever, though, so the band definitely has something to prove this time around.

“My Temple” opens the album, and not surprisingly this is a trademark double-bass effort, which, after a few spins, grows on you and stands forth as a relatively strong track. The melodies are okay, and Hansen’s vocals are cool indeed. “Fight” is next up, but isn’t too much to brag about. The melodies lack that final spark, and the track never really takes off. “Strange World” is far better, being a cool, mid-tempo Sigh No More-era track. The riffs are simple, but the song definitely grooves, and also has a nice “speedier” bridge part and a very Iron Maiden-influenced solo part to break things up. A very good track, and things seem to get better after a slightly disappointing start.

“Hell is Thy Home” is okay — although that intro riff may be a bit too much of a rip-off of Priest’s “Leather Rebel” –- but it’s not until “Blood Religion” kicks in that things really begin to get cozy. This is the album’s best track -– a melodic and majestic Power Metal track with a good arrangement, strong melodies, and a killer chorus. Finally, it’s tempting to say … “Condemned to Hell” continues the positive trend, being a great, melodic tune (a good choice for a single perhaps?), and except for a hopelessly unoriginal intro riff, “Spiritual Dictator” also is among the better tracks on the album.

The title track opens with a syrupy and cool bass-line before a very Rainbow-like opening riff enters and sets the standard for a very strong track. The theme of this track is quite a dark one, and the music reflects this in a very good manner.

Of course Gamma Ray couldn’t stay gloomy for too long, and “How Long” is back in Happy Metal-land, where everyone dresses as small, pink rabbits and dances around with lollipops in their hands, and where the sky is covered by light blue balloons.

A Power Metal album isn’t a Power Metal album without a lengthy, epic, closing track, and “Revelation” fills Majestic’s obligation. It’s a pretty good one too, with plenty of trademark Kai Hansen melodies, a symphonic arrangement, and solid musicianship. This last description basically fits for the entire album too, Majestic is a solid effort, but really it never takes it to the next level. The fans will clearly be happy with this, but the band may not convince any critics with this one.


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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