earMUSIC [Release date 29.09.17]
earMUSIC’s Gamma Ray re-issue schedule continues with the band’s fourth studio album (original released in 1995) getting a deluxe 2CD re-issue. The second disc adds three songs (including the band’s blistering cover of Holocaust’s ‘Heavy Metal Mania’) that appeared on a 2003 re-issue of this album, plus four other tracks – all instrumental versions of Gamma Ray tunes which were recorded live at Chameleon studios either in 2016 or 2017.
Land Of The Free marked the first album that Kai Hansen handled all the vocals after the departure of Ralf Scheepers. There are plenty of classic Gamma Ray songs on here including the title track and the Queen-like arrangements on ‘Man On A Mission’. Former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske guests on two songs – the title track and ‘Time To Break Free’. Another guest is Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kürsch on ‘Farewell’, a suitably grandiose piece of metal that builds nicely from a gentle piano/vocal intro.
‘Land of the Free’ is an album that is a classic power metal from start to finish. Gamma Ray, along with Helloween, paved the way for the countless power metal bands we now see around. ****
Alive ’95 is re-issued as a two CD set, with disc two featuring live songs recorded with Ralf Scheepers which includes a storming version of ‘Heading For Tomorrow’. The original ‘Alive ’95′ album includes six songs of the then new ‘Land of the Free’ album, plus a couple of live Helloween classics, ‘Ride the Sky’ and ‘Future World’. Perfect for the band’s fans who enjoy live albums, but otherwise not essential. ***
Review by Jason Ritchie
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