GAMMA RAY – To The Metal

GAMMA RAY - To The Metal
  • 7/10
    GAMMA RAY - To The Metal - 7/10


Ear Music / Edel
Release date: January 29, 2010

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

It was over 25 years ago that Kai Hansen started his way to fame with German Metal pioneers Helloween. Walls Of Jericho and the immortal hymns of the two Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums put him on the Metal map and influences hundreds of thousands of bands all over the world. So whenever the name Kai Hansen comes up, somewhere in the back of one’s head these facts always linger. But his new band, Gamma Ray, released their first album dating back to 1990, so this 2010 album, To The Metal, marks the twentieth anniversary and their tenth studio album!

That is an opportunity for a celebration, and that is what To The Metal is intended to be. Kai made it clear from the start that he will not do a stylistic somersault but give the audience what they expect from a Gamma Ray album. One that starts with another eye blindingly colorful cover design, and ends with the fact that the title of the album could not be more fitting.

Starting with the uptempo “Rise” one gets a typical Kai Hansen Song, with a bit of Iron Maiden introduction. That is what the fans want: fast, bombastic and with a catchy, almost corny chorus. The production is good, as expected, but leaves a bit of tooth for the guitars, which sets To The Metal apart from some of Gamma Ray’s earlier works where the plushy sound often killed the music. But other than that there is no innovation whatsoever on the album. Is that a good thing or not? Difficult to say, as the recipe for quality European Power Metal is well known to Mr. Hansen, so he creates an overall very enjoyable album and satisfies every expectation, those of fans and critiques of the band alike.

Occasionally, he takes the catchiness to kitschiness like in “No Need To Cry” which is really difficult to endure except for the real Gamma Ray lovers, but generally he knows exactly what he is doing, up to a point where parts almost seem familiar, as if he steals from old tracks of his own design, and in the title track very obviously from Judas Priest as well where he adapts the basic structure of one of the greatest Metal-Songs of all time, “Metal Gods”.

But there is one little progress to be heard, though. Kai Hansen’s voice is more versatile and he varies more than usual, which is good like his deep Kai goes Sisters Of Mercy vocals in “All You Need To Know” or bad like the odd sounding vocals in “Empathy”. And one more thing has to be mentioned: As a guest singer there is no other than his band mate from the early days, Michael Kiske, who is involved and sings the chorus of “All You Need To Know”.

To The Metal is an album for fans and those who can enjoy an hour of typical Power Metal that has become a synonym for German Metal and is liked all over the world. If you are looking for innovation however, you are looking in the wrong place. But even then one can hardly miss the fact that Gamma Ray know what they do, and they do it mostly well. Twenty years, ten albums, and this is the essence of it.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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