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It takes a die hard fan to dive into this album again after so many years and try to find those rare good moments. Yeah, the nineties were poor for all of us. All the great band from the eighties were starting to sound like shit. From ‘Tallica to Maiden to even Napalm Death. Also after their decent debut, Gamma Ray would rapidly deteriorate stylewise. (fortunately Hansen saw the light again in '95)
No I do not think this album is underrated. Trust me I’ve had this album since it came out and I played it a lot over the years. It never grew on me. It actually has gotten worse with each spin. It also got worse from the retrospective point of view each time the band released a new album. Just listen to any other Gamma ray album and you will have to admit: This is their worst together with Insanity and Genius.
The first album still reeked of Kai Hansen domination. Speed metal, power metal and those catchy midpaced pounding sing-a-long anthems. So what on earth was the band thinking on this album? Let’s do our best to sound the least like anything Kai Hansen? Well, they did a great job then.
Come on, this album has almost nothing to do with power metal. Most of it is blatant MTV friendly metal and hardrock! Okay, so there are a few real metal moments like “As Time Goes By” and “Dreamhealer” but that’s about it. Ohw yeah, “Start Running” is also a cute up tempo NWOBHM tune.
“As time Goes By” is speed metal in the lightest form. No heavy material like for instance the Walls of Jericho stuff but at least up tempo with some cool riffs and memorable vocals lines and ditto chorus. The production however is mediocre and very thin, damaging the song. But hey, look at the credits to the song: Hansen/Sielck ? No wonder it sounds so much better than 90% of the rest of the album.
“Dreamhealer” is the best song here. It is a dark pounding metal song with some great melodies, nice dynamics and eerie atmosphere. As said “Start Running” has a nice tempo and sweet NWOBHM riffing and feeling to it. Not a mindblowing song, but very entertaining. Here we can hear Hansen in form again.
Well these three good songs are about all that’s enjoyable here. The rest of the songs are MTV proof second rate rock and mediocre hair metal. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like some hair metal and I even own some albums by Extreme (excellent guitars) and Cinderella (nice country touches and Guns ‘n’ Roses approach). The songs here however cannot compete with the actually good hair bands. From all these songs the mediocre “Changes” is the best one.
“Rich and Famous”, “Father and Son” and “The Spirit” are by far three of the worst songs ever written by Gamma Ray. Ohw hell, “Stop the War” and “Countdown” are utter crap too.
If you’re into power metal, just get “Dreamhealer”, “As Time Goes By” and “Start Running” and please forget about the rest of this album! If you’re into rock and hair metal, forget it as well, there are numerous better albums available than this (such as Pornograffiti, Long Cold Winter or No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims). Three good songs can’t save an album.