Album review: GAMMA RAY – Empire Of The Undead

Gamma Ray - Empire Of The Undead

earMusic [Release date 31.03.14]

An album made against adversity as their studio sadly burnt down and long time drummer Daniel Zimmerman left after fifteen years with the band, to be replaced by Michael Ehré back in 2012. It’s been four years since their last full studio album ‘To The Metal’ and this new album has been worth the wait!

Brave move starting the album with the epic ‘Avalon’ but I guess they are only giving the fans what they want, as the band have always been successful producing epic songs that seem to fly by as the listener is enjoying it so much. ‘Born To Fly’ harks back to the bands earlier sound whilst ‘Time For Delivery’ is the album’s power ballad. It has a very Queen-like structure, a metal ‘We Are The Champions’ if you will.

On ‘Hellbent’ they sound like a Judas Priest tribute, not only was I singing the Priest classic ‘Hellbent for leather’ on the chorus, another Priest classic ‘Metal Meltdown’ came to mind in the mid-section. Cracking song though and that’s what counts.

The title track and ‘Seven’ hint at the more thrash/speed metal direction mainman Kai Hansen hinted at in interviews before this album was completed. ‘Master Of Confusion’  is a single if ever there was one, great riffs and Kai Hansen sounds a little like Billy Idol on the verses.

I have always preferred Gamma Ray since the mid-90′s over Helloween as they have been much more consistent and this is another fine piece of power metal.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Joe Geesin adds…

Legendary German power metal band return with their 11th studio album and from the outset it’s a big sounding opus. With guitarist and founder member Kai Hansen now also handling lead vocals, and occasional use of keyboards, there are some polished moments within the wall of sound.

Opener ‘Avalon’ is at the more polished end, the keyboards adding a good touch. It is a 9 minute epic with a hint of Magnum-esque pomp within the metal that also nods to Judas Priest. Now that’s a good way to start any album!

‘Hellbound’ is more of a screamer – the blistering guitars ripping eardrums to shreds. Now where’s that Painkiller when you need it. ‘Pale Rider’ is another solid metal track with a chunkier feel, while ‘Born To Fly’ is a fast one with more anthemic vocals.

Many tracks feature some neat guitar interplay, and the title track (debuted on an EP released last year) is an all out sonic assault.

Amongst the metal is the slower (almost power ballad) ‘Time For Deliverance’ that builds well. The keyboards/strings add an extra dimension too.

During the recording the band lost the studio to fire, including instruments and tapes – and they have certainly bounced back well. Yes there is a hint of Judas Priest in some songs but that’s no bad thing – a thoroughly enjoyable set. ****

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