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Wow, this album has really grown on me since I first reviewed it six months ago. Back then I had only heard the album eight times, which proved to be way too early for a review. Now, I've heard it at least 15 times and the time has come to update my review with a higher score.
I can imagine what many people think when they first hear this album. "OMFG THIS ALBUM SUCKS IT'S SO GODDAMN BORING". Then they trash it and never listen to it again, and when somebody ask what they think about it, you know what kind of answer they get. And of course, many people listen to these guys and never give the album a chance. Because of such ignorant fools, this album ends up being forgotten by many, and that's truly a shame. Yes, this is the weakest Gamma Ray album, and yes, it's certainly a letdown after Heading For Tomorrow, but does that mean it sucks? God, no.
The album opens up with "Changes", which is a perfect opener for this album. It's slow, but by all means great. Ralf's vocals shines throughout the whole song, and the guitar work is just as you'd expect. Nice riffage and a short, but excellent solo. The songs speeds up after a while, and that's when it really gets great, with an excellent chorus at the end that always makes me sing along like there's no tomorrow. Really a well written song that belongs in the "Gamma Ray Classics" category, and it's probably the best song on here. Get the Lust For Live DVD for an even better version. Next up is "Rich & Famous", a song of the more catchy type, like Heaven Can Wait, just not as good. It's still great though; it's actually too catchy for your own good, and it's impossible to sit still when you listen to it. Really funny lyrics too. Just what you'd expect from Kai, and Kai only. This is the kind of song only Kai Hansen could have written. Oh yeah, great solos too, and I love the use of double bass towards the end. Simply put, an instant classic, and it really sounds like a Gamma Ray song. The same goes for the next song, "As Time Goes By". This is one of the fastest songs on the album, and it's got a taste of power. While this is far from a power metal album, this song is definitely the most power metal song on here, and it wouldn't sound too out of place on Heading For Tomorrow. It's also very catchy, with a nice chorus and some excellent solos (as always). These three songs make an excellent start to this album.
"(We Won't) Stop The War" is one of the songs that have really grown on me since last time. I said it was one of the weakest songs on the album last time, and that may still be true, but it's really a well done song. It's just nothing special, like the first three songs, but it definitely has its moments. Then it's time for a balld, named "Father And Son". I have to admit that I didn't care much for this one in the beginning, but it really grew on me and now I love it. It's got a very nice emotional feeling and that's what makes it so good. Also, it's very different from all the other Gamma Ray ballads, but that just makes it unique, and unique is good. Well, it just gets better, cause next up is "One With The World". This one is a powerful anthem with strong verses and an excellent sing along chorus. After a while, it speeds up and we get som excellent solos of the kind you would expect. A really good song and it's still a concert favorite today. Then it's back to full speed (or at least as fast as it gets on this album) with "Start Running", and this is definitely one of the best songs on here. The intro riff is very cool and the whole song is filled with trademark Gamma Ray elements such as speed, power, catchiness and great guitar work. Unfortunately, the greatness takes a little break after this song. Although "Countdown" can be catchy now and then, it's pretty weak in general and I can honestly say it's the weakest song ever performed by Kai & Co. That's not saying much though, but there's really nothing great about it. As Agonymph said, get the vinyl if you can (or cassette for that matter), as this song is a CD bonus.
Now "Dream Healer" is an interesting song, and it's another one of those songs that have really grown on me since last time. I take back whatever I said about this song being boring, except for that "I see red, I see blue... part" about four minutes into the song. Everything else is great though. It has a nice, soft intro and before each verse there is this really lovely lead-melody. The first verse may start boring, but it gets better after a while. At least the chorus is great and after two verses and choruses we get some excellent solos. The song slows down for the boring part after that, but it speeds up again and gets really great towards the end. That "listen to dreams.. part" is probably the best part of the song. With its 6 minutes and 23 seconds, this is the "epic" song of the album and on vinyl and cassette, it's also the album closer. The end of the album is close, but first we gotta listen to "The Spirit". What a lovely song this is. It's not very catchy, but it has got this happy feeling throughout the whole song that makes it so enjoyable. Nice use of acoustic guitars too, and an excellent solo as always. Not to mention the short but terrific chorus. A perfect way to end this gem of an underrated album.
That's it. Overall, this is a great album and there's only one song on here that can be considered "weak" compared to the rest, but that really doesn't ruin the album. Seriously, people, Gamma Ray haven't always been about kickass power and blazing speed. You can't put on this record for the first time and expect another Powerplant. Do I put on Britney Spears when I want to listen to Iron Maiden? No. Instead, you can look forward to some nice traditional metal and hard rock with a taste of classic Gamma Ray now and then. Listen to this album with an open mind and do yourself that favor not putting it away if you think it's boring the first time. Give it 5-6 spins, and you'll most likely end up loving it.