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Kai Hansen owes Helloween fans big time. For one thing, it’s where he got his break. But then again that’s a two way street; he delivered and we picked up the bill. So all good. On the other hand, if he’d hung around with his hometown buddies, the world might not have had to put up with a decade (and boy did it feel that long) of Roland Grapow filler songs. Having said all that though, I like Kai. He writes good catchy stuff. And he seems to turn up everywhere. Hell, I even like his singing voice. So let’s see what he was up to in 2005.
‘Majestic’ was a long time coming and well worth the wait. Hansen wrote half the album, and the other half ain’t bad either. The reality though, is not much has changed. The album cover is more of the same; watered down Iron Maiden for the sake of watered down Iron Maiden. And take a minute to think about the band name and logo if you haven’t before; Hansen can do class act, but sign off in those two departments was definitely an asleep at the wheel moment. Great title though: ‘Majestic’. But it’s more than that. This is a band that’s done concept album before, only this time it’s less a literal concept, and more an overarching theme.
“My Temple” announces the album theme in close to five minutes of almost prog metal atmospherics that power through lyrics about consequences on a grand, grand scale. The words say if you’re going to keep you’re trap shut, then shut your door on the way out. Or else take a seat and listen to your options. This isn’t the catchiest song on the album, but it does exactly what an overture should do. “Fight” finds guitarist Henjo Richter penning one for express delivery to the anthem file (generally referred to as the Hansen file by the way). The lyrics don’t mince words: take on the world when it’s the right thing to do. And the right thing to do is play this one at a public nuisance level, but DO NOT risk driving at the same time. Yep, there will be shivers up the spine every single time people.
Track 3 opens with the line “Here come the riders of the revolution”. That can only mean one thing; things are about to get heavier. And do they ever. Musically and lyrically. The next three tracks are called “Strange World”, “Hell Is Thy Home” and Blood Religion”. Care to guess what’s on Hansen & co’s minds then? “Hell Is Thy Home” is the one that’ll stick in your head right away, but that’s just to keep you busy while the other two slowly move in. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the GAMMA RAY twin axe arrangement so manic and hysterical. Not all over the place, just method in madness stuff. Fast, then calculated, then gone, then back again with a fresh round of ammunition.
It’s at about this point that Dan Zimmerman on skins not only chips in two songs, but does it in between more than holding his own up against the composed frenzy of his band mates. Zimmerman could easily slip into part of-the-furniture mode and still pick up a paycheck. But no dice. He wants in. “Spiritual Dictator” is the result. The melody says someone’s going down, and the lyrics tell you exactly who. All of which set the scene for the title track. Hansen wrote this one, and he’s saved it for track 8. At six minutes, it’s not quite in the tradition of a Hansen double figure epic, but that’s what saves it. Instead of padding you get hit-and-run. This one’s an accident you’re watching happen in slow motion. It’s catchy precisely because it catches you out.
“How Long” is Richter again. And he’ll be damned if he’s not going to play the anthem card twice on the same album. Sure this isn’t the most original track you’ll ever hear, but think of it more as a tribute to the anthem tradition in metal. The guitars are thick and fast, the drums are a guillotine act, and like I said – I’m a fully paid up member of the Kai Hansen’s singing voice fan club. And he’s in deep dark mode for the album closer “Revelation”. Remember what I said about the album opener not being the catchiest song on record, but doing exactly what an overture should? Well this song manages to pull off the same trick. It takes 8 minutes and shirks at predictability, but in the end you walk away covered in ashes. Don’t believe me? If you can find it, pick up the bonus track edition. The extra song’s called “Hellfire”.