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I can't understand all the bashing that's been going on with this album. This shows Gamma Ray at their very best again and a worthy successor to the good old Land of the Free.
After the old school sounding New World Order album and the darker, but not all too innovative Majestic, this album finally manages to sound innovative again without actually inventing anything new. This might sound weird, but it's what it is. It wasn't as obvious on NWO, but especially Majestic lacked almost all the little musical gizmos that used to make Gamma Ray songs so unique. Don't get me wrong, Majestic is not a bad album at all, but I have come to expect only and nothing but the best of Gamma Ray, and Majestic just didn't live up to that.
On LotF Pt.II, the band and especially Kai Hansen seem to be back to form. This album just has it all, blazing highspeed metal anthems like To Mother Earth, stomping hard rockers like the opener Into The Storm or Real World, darker songs like Empress and Rain (which is interspersed with some little happy metal parts - the contrast does actually fit the song very well) and even the 10 minute epic Insurrection, one of the best songs on this album which is right up there with classics like Rebellion In Dreamland and Armageddon.
As on most of the last Gamma Ray albums, there are riffs and melodies on this album that are clearly ripped off from other songs, but not in a bad way. It seems to be more of a running gag that Kai includes little parts from Maiden, Sabbath or Priest classics here and there. What's wrong with that? It doesn't make anything sound unoriginal because there's so much awesome other stuff written around it and these little parts are clearly Kai's way of a tribute to the old heroes.
There's some stuff on this album that is very different from anything Gamma Ray have done before yet sounds so much like them you'll recognize it by the first chords (Empress), then again there's typical stuff like Real World or From The Ashes, songs with catchy melodies, strong choruses and awesome solos, but if you listen to them a couple of times, you'll find a lot of little cool things going on which keep them from sounding "awesome-yet-nothing-new," a problem many power metal bands suffer from. For example, there's a lot of bass ass kickery going on on this album, which is clearly audible, but really helps the songs to develop to their full potential instead of being pure wankery. There are some guitar parts like the little Mark Knopfler inspired riff in the background during one verse of Real World that seem to be very minor, yet add tremendously much to the general feel and really make almost every song something special, as does the variety of different guitar tones used on this album.
Gamma Ray have always been known for great musicianship, and they live up to all expectations here. The bass work is great, not much needs to be said about Dan ZImmermann's drumming, the guitar solos are superb (seems like there's a tad more feeling in them than on other albums) and the keyboards are not too prominent, but always there where they are necessary.
Only reason I don't give this album the full 100% rating is the chorus of Leaving Hell... really not that great, especially if compared to the rest of this album and even the rest of the song.
All in all, if you're looking for great European power metal that manages to sound fresh and inspired without inventing the wheel again, Land Of The Free Pt.II is the way to go.