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Album Reviews : Gamma Ray – To The Metal!

By on March 27, 2010

HaGamma Ray - To The Metalving been a Gamma Ray fan for sometime now, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new album, ‘To The Metal!’. As much as I’m a Gamma Ray fan, I still wasn’t entirely impressed with the quality of the previous album ‘Land of the Free Pt. II’. Gamma Ray’s genuine drive was all there, but production wise it seemed to lack that hard hitting assault which ‘Majesty’ did so well beforehand.

I’m guessing the lack of production was partly due to the recent debacle and dismemberment of SPV records. Since then many have questioned Gamma Ray, saying that the previous release was nothing more than a blatant rip off or recycled effort of bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

Clearly these people who made that judgment don’t know the historay of Gamma Ray. The band have been implementing their musical heroes and inspirations into their music since their first release ‘Heading For Tomorrow’, so to question it so far into their career would seem a bit ridiculous at this point. I for one did notice many of these similarities in the previous release, but as an avid fan of the band I saw it as a homage rather than a blatant rip off.

Since the release of “Land of the Free Pt. II”, the band have learned a thing or two. They are back in full swing and offer not only their genuine uplifting heavy metal sound, but also offer a new level variety and flair which has not been heard since ‘Power Planet’ and ‘Land of the Free’. Many may see this a step forward for the band. The new album still covers all the basics of a solid Gamma Ray release. Catchy melodies with hard hitting music and lyrics which come directly from the soul.

The opening track ‘Empathy’ is a fantastic introduction to the album. Fast, emotional and just oozes with power. The album seems to emit a consistent wall of sound. There is never a dull moment. Everything is in its place and sounds the way it should be. ‘All You Need To Know’ is a powerful melodic ballad with the legendary Micheal Kiske. His voice fits perfectly and is a great addition to the song. He still sounds amazing after all these years.

‘Time to Live’, ‘Shine Forever’ and ‘Rise are your typical upbeat and positive Gamma Ray songs. They are consistent, fast and upbeat,  and all have a distinct sound from one another. ‘Time to Live’ is very melodic and simplistic, but does a great job to get its positive message across. ‘Rise’ starts off slow with it’s Iron Maiden esque intro and drives into a double bass which keeps its momentum throughout the song. Finally, ‘Shine Forever’ is a mixture of both fast and melodic. Kai adds more character to the song with his reminiscent vocals to that of Rob Halford, with the added backing of a Queen epic.

Every Gamma Ray release always has one or two metal anthems to get the blood pumping, ‘To The Metal’ is no exception as it plays homage to the band’s previous ‘true metal’ classic, ‘Heavy Metal Universe’. The song has so much appeal. It’s atmospheric Manowar inspired wall of sound makes it a definitive song on the album . The final track ‘No Need To Cry’ infuses old school late 80’s rock and metal ballad tempos. Kai even delivers the lyrics in the same tradition as Axel Rose did on the song ‘Cry No More’ of Guns N’ Roses fame.

The new album is simply amazing. I find it more uplifting and happier in a sense then some of the band’s previous releases.  They haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel or listened to anyone else. They have stuck to a common formula which works!

This is Gamma Ray at its finest. It’s strong diverse sound does well to bring the band into the modern age, but its essentially a classic Gamma Ray release through and through.  I have nothing but high praise for this album. I hope Gamma Ray fans, and power metal fans in general feel the same way. 9.5/10

On a side note...There are 4 versions of this album. The standard jewel case edition. A limited edition version which contains a bonus in-depth making of DVD of the entire album, a red vinyl in gatefold packaging and a collector’s edition which includes 2 bonus songs ‘Wannabees’ and ‘One Life’ and all were hand signed by the band . Sadly, the collector’s edition is no more as only 3000 copies were made. I was lucky enough to pick up the collector’s edition. The bonus DVD is both very assuming and in-depth, as it shows you a lot about how the band work, both in the studio and in their personal lives.

Band: Gamma Ray
Album: To The Metal
Year: 2010
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Label: EarMusic
Origin: Hamburg, Germany
www.gammaray.org

Tracklisting:

1. Empathy <- Reviewer’s Choice
2. All You Need to Know <- Reviewer’s Choice
3. Time To Live
4. To The Metal <- Reviewer’s Choice
5. Rise
6. Mother Angel
7. Shine Forever
8. Deadlands
9. Chasing Shadows
10. No Need To Cry <- Reviewer’s Choice.

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.