Thursday, March 27, 2014

GAMMA RAY: "Empire Of The Undead"

Rating: RRRR
Label: earMUSIC 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Wow! The fire in the Hammer studios (R.I.P.) couldn't stop Gamma Ray from recording their best album in ages. I constantly find myself shouting along at the top of my lungs to the melodies and even though several tracks are epic (like the nine minute long opener 'Avalon'), the overall feeling of 'Empire of The Unded' is still the one of proper metal and back to basic material.

It's almost like if they've stopped writing songs that may attract all kind of folks and gone back to the heydays of denim and leather which obviously include the fine signatures of old masters such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. The voice of Kai Hansen is more on the money, focused, and basically better sounding than previous effort and the production bring out the best of the musicians.

'Hellbent' will have you thinking about Priest for obvious reason and the verse/pre-chorus of 'Born To Fly' may just channel the feeling of 'Electric Eye'. The chorus part on the other hand is very different and harks back to Gamma Ray's earlier sound. The title track is the real monster track (as you may already have heard since it's been out there for months) with its speedy uptempo arrangement and cheeky pre-chorus ála Maiden and Ace's High. 'Time For Deliverance', the nice breather and ballad with an Queen-like chorus and the uber sing-a-long anthem.

The deluxe version with its bonus DVD feature the 58 minute long intoduction to the band including live outtakes from the final studio sessions of the 'Empire'. The tour of Hamburg and various other goodies such as interviews and three clips from the Skeletons & Majesties live DVD. The bottomline, 'Empire Of The Undead' is an album that will surely please the traditional metal head as you have everything from NWOBH (Raven, Priest, Maiden) to the teutonic tradition of Gamma Ray, Accept, Helloween. Gamma Ray have shown that this type of music can be creative as well as the great throwback to metal past.
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