(9/10) The pre-conditions for the new Gamma Ray album haven't been really good. You all heard about the disaster which happened in Hamburg. In November last year a fire destroyed the entire Hammer Studios in Hamburg. What a shock. And I guess it was even a bigger shock for the band being on tour in South America at that time.
The only good thing was that the first recording for the new album haven't been destroyed. The same goes actually for most of the equipment and Hansen's guitars. Since the own studio wasn't existing anymore Gamma Ray decided to record in the Chameleon Studio in the Hansestadt. In the end Kai Hansen's reflection is that all the sad experience made the band even stronger.
Let's have a look into the new songs. The beginning is already a surprise. Not that many bands are brave enough to open with a more than nine minutes long epos. But Gamma Ray don't care about those details and have with "Avalon" an excellent first song. An tune which is convincing. I was reminded in some part to the band classic "Heading for tomorrow". The contrast to "Hellbent", which is also the first single release, could be bigger. Tune number two is a straight to the point speed metal track which includes all trademarks of the band like heavy riffs, fast soli and an awesome melody. The chorus reminds to Judas Priest "Hell bent for leather" which is not only based on the fact that the songtitels sound similar. "Pale rider" follows another pattern. The track grooves like hell, is kept on midpace and reminds from the guitars to Accept. "Master of confusion" is another fave of mine (actually I like all the songs). It's a song Helloween never wrote again after the famous "Keeper..." records. It also shows how important Hansen was for the songwriting of the pumkins gang. "Empire of the undead" just blows you away. High speed metal with exciting riffs and screaming guitar. It's like a tornado of tones. The first moment to breath is when you reached "Time for deliverence". After all those smashers also a needed break. The song is a beautiful half ballad which builds up along the way and becomes more rocking towards the end. The last three songs are also pretty good, but stand a bit back behind the earlier mentioned tunes. Most of the other bands in this genre would wish to have those songs on their albums, but for Gamma Ray it almost feels a bit like standard stuff. But those songs can't limit the very positiv impression of this record. Not at all.
"Empire of the undead" proves again that Gamma Ray doesn't get stuck in stereotypes. The album convinces with great songs and a big variety of styles by not denying the trademarks of the band. Gamma Ray has it's own identity and strengthen it even more with "Empire of the undead".
I'm very happy that after all the difficulties in the last weeks and months Gamma Ray managed to create a really strong record. "Empire of the undead" shows that Hansen was right when he said that the distaster made the band stronger. They are championsleague. An album which will end up in a lot of Top 5 albums charts in 2014 polls.
Just one aish in the end: COME TO HOLLAND ;o)
- Pale rider
- Born to fly
- Master of confusion
- Empire of the undead
- Time for deliverance
- I will return
Label: ear Music
Genre: Speed Metal