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Into The Shadows - 89%

GuntherTheUndying, July 8th, 2008

Once you think about Gamma Ray’s discography, there seems to be a lot of uncharacteristic experiments bouncing over Kai Hansen’s offspring: the galactic touches on “Somewhere out in Space,” or those semi-progressive tints coloring “Insanity And Genius.” However, during discussions about endeavoring onto uncharted territories, “Majestic” is an obtuse recording focusing on power metal’s sinister side, much like Helloween’s praised opus entitled “The Dark Ride.” Now setting aside the ironic similarities these two bands have shared, Gamma Ray’s eighth full-length finds them entwining much more aggression and duskiness than anyone could have ever thought, especially upon comparing similar efforts; it’s every power metal fan’s personal vortex into nocturnal shades.

Being stamped “dark” power metal can really have vague results, yet “Majestic” truly lives up to the label from the usual catchiness Gamma Ray has consistently buckled down alongside heavier guitars, mid-paced sections that crush your skull, technical musicianship, and lyrical matter typically treading into anti-religious/Hell-themed subjects. Most noticeably, the riffs seem to be not only faster when bringing up Gamma Ray, but much lower as well. Indeed, there is no denying speed riffs dominate nearly all portions of “Majestic,” as seen by rushing tunes like “Fight” or “Spiritual Dictator.” As for soloing, I can safely say this CD has some of the most chaotic leads I’ve ever experienced on a speed/power metal, which definitely summons a pair of thumbs way in the sky. Hell, one of the bridges on “Hell is Thy Home” sounds so intact with Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” that I actually thought Kai Hansen had cleaned the power metal idea for something heavier and faster; ironically, it’s what equated “Majestic.”

But for all you individuals expecting total difference on a musical perimeter, “Majestic” keeps Gamma Ray’s core intact much like their previous efforts alongside this different approach. Fellow buffs on the prowl for catchy choruses, epic solos, and upbeat tracks will shortly become full after feasting upon numerous instances in which such activity hovers around your earphones, keeping signature ammunition stuck in the clip. Especially towards the disc’s ending, positive notes pop out rather intelligently, kind of reverting back to Hansen’s original pattern for Gamma Ray, and that’s not even mentioning how fantastic all those songs are primordially. I mean we always have uppity tunes like “Fight” leading us back upon those Helloween-era attitudes, so where are all those complaints coming from? I only see an album that can truly appeal to a spectrum of persons, almost benefitting all metal fans regardless of taste.

And of course, Kai Hansen still does his mighty voice wonders throughout the multiple arrangements like changed never occurred. The well-aged vocalist has had his share of exercises involving that smoked-up larynx, but Helloween’s former singer accurately portrays great range across numbers both blistering and moderately paced; regardless of atmosphere, Hansen delivers impeccably. To better understand the vocal performance, one must analysis how experimental this album is for such a group, and there’s no doubting everything falls together like a confusing movie that unwraps toward its conclusion. He can maneuver during chirpy anthems like “Revelations,” or revolve intelligently when attacking “Blood Religion” and its down-toned grooves; there’s several faces shown here, and they connect too blissfully for our own good. That’s my Gamma Ray!

The majesty led by Kai Hansen continues to shine valorously around Gamma Ray’s blackened masterpiece in ways unbeknownst to a grand majority of power metal squads; it’s a savage and bloodthirsty record unlike anything you could ever picture. All ten epodes successfully please expectations in every instrumental spectrum, and the album’s direction drives it beyond typical slabs of predictable junk, making “Majestic” rather enjoyable. I’m flabbergasted by all the negativity Gamma Ray fans usually pour on this album for whatever reason, because at sunset, all I hear is fantastic heaviness laced in a stellar silk of darkness; that really all this blackheart could ask for. “Majestic” is, without question, a release of majestic proportions.

This review was written for: www.leviatan-magazine.com