without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
After the dramatic changeover that occured in "Land of the Free" when Kai Hansen once again took the position of frontman after 10 years of supporting another, this rather intriguing EP was released. One thing to note right off the bat is the experimental aspects of it, as this CD is not quite what I would call a power metal release.
The opening and primary song that defines this album is Miracle, which is essentially a slow and more narrative-like version of Man on a Mission, one of the most well known tracks off the "Land of the Free". I actually prefer this version to the high tempo one from the full studio album because of Kai's more emotional vocal performance and his more dramatic sounding guitar solo.
The second track is "Farewell", a ballad from the "Land of the Free" release that has been kept in it's original format. Nothing really new to note here as a result, but for those of you who have not yet heard that album, it's a rather brilliant duet between Kai Hansen and Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian/Demons and Wizards.
The third track is a new version of "The Silence" a classic rock/metal experiment of epic proportions off the "Heading for Tomorrow" album. Although I prefer Ralf Scheepers' vocal performance on this particular composition, the instrumentation here and the production is a big step up, and the overall song has a much greater energy to it.
The fourth and final track is a rather interesting ballad entitled "A while in Dreamland" which doesn't appear anywhere else in the Gamma Ray catalog. It is essentially 4 minutes of Kai singing some very inspired lyrics to a beautiful piano line.
In conclusion, this release is somewhat of a mixed bag. Although I enjoyed it immensely, I am a Gamma Ray fanatic whom also has a very ecclectic musical background, thus my views are probably not typical of the metal masses. This release doesn't have any high speed thrillers, or any thrashy heavy tracks, so it may not be suited for many fans of power metal or even traditional metal.
This is a little rarity nowadays it seems, so I'd snap it up quickly should you happen to spot it. What it is, is a small collection of four Gamma Ray ballads. It's quite a good listen. We have two original tracks, a reworked version of an older song, and an album track from "Land of the Free". The first track, "Miracle" is an extended, ballad version of "Man on a Mission" from Land of the Free. It's got the same verses and chorus, though minus the blazing speed, and a few bits here and there that are different. It's not one to listen to in place of the album song, but it gives a nicely opposite perspective of that song. The highlight of the E.P. is coming up with "The Silence '95". Everything just sounds bigger on this version, with a clearer production and more power. Also on this version we have Kai on vocals, rounding off a much improved rerecording of an already excellent song. "Farewell" is by far my favourite Gamma Ray ballad and sits in this little collection very comfortably, while of course found elsewhere too, it's still a logical pick for this disc.
To be honest, I'm not too keen on this last song, it's very softly played, practically all done with piano and has a pretty slow, tranquil feel. But I just don't think they quite pull this one off right and it tires me instead of rousing any feelings from within and all that an emotional ballad is meant to do. Regardless, this is a nice little E.P. that will go nicely in your Gamma Ray collection, "The Silence '95" is definitely the one that must be heard from this, especially if you are a fan of the original.