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It pains me to see such a contrast. On one hand, we have absolutely amazing songs. One With the World, Rich and Famous, Changes, Start Running, and Father and Son are all top tier power metal. In fact, One With the World is my favorite Gamma Ray song. I’m so glad Kai re-did it. The solo on the Sigh No More album sucks compared to the redone version. Speaking of better solos, only *that* song had a better re-done solo. Changes and Rich and Famous are amazing without the re-do. Each of the songs listed above is classic in its own unique way, which sets the bar high for anyone to compete against.
Changes is a bad choice of a song to open up with. It is really an avant-garde taste. People who listen to Arcturus (I’m talking La Masquerade Infernale here, not their debut) will find this quite exquisite for them. I’ve not heard a song like it done ever. Really hard to describe... it mixes power metal with a psychedelic side, and somehow a really fun solo molded in there somehow. Dream Healer (a song later on) expands upon this otherworldly feeling to the extreme, but takes it too far in some cases. There is really huge Judas Priest ripoff (I mean influence, sorry) occurring within Dream Healer. It is like Gamma Ray’s rehash of Sad Wings Of Destiny, the album by Priest. Of course, half the songs on here have an after-taste of NWOBHM in there, but some of these songs really are so original, they’re untouchable. I’ve mentioned One With the World already, but Rich and Famous is easily the best sing along ever, and it’s quite nice to see a really fast 15 second double bass run by Uli. Besides that though, he really shines on Insanity and Genius (which has tons of stuff going against it), too bad he didn’t go all out here.
Father and Son is another avant-garde type song. Really chord/arpeggio based with a country’ish feel, it seems like something that would fit on Load/Reload [Metallica, for those that don’t know]. The song utilizes blue scales with some deep, interesting—but overused—lyrics. Most people seem to rail against this song, but under the proper atmosphere can be a home-run. Most of this album is a home run (!) until we get towards the end. That weird psychedelic taste just starts to totally hijack the album. Kai and Ralf must’ve been dealing LSD with acid-laced pot when they made this. The album literally shifts from catchy power metal, to “Doom Power Metal.” I would call it doom-power-metal, though others might disagree. Now I never have and never will do drugs, but it would be really interesting to see the effects of someone stoned while listening to the latter half of the album. Strangely enough I could see a similarity between that and doing the same under a Black Sabbath setting.
The album art work kicks ass, but the last 3 bonus songs suck dick. I can’t find any redeeming value on them so far, so they will be left out of the calculations. I don’t even know how to attain the re-mastered version since they still market this album. Good job producers! Thinking one step ahead there... aren’t we? Regardless of that, the amount of properly done songs kicks total ass, and there is any doubt, go find it on youtube. There is a video by the band in a desert for “One With The World”, and it’s pretty good.