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Their Weak, But Still Awesome - 85%

WishmasterTheDark, December 11th, 2011

When you compare this studio album with any other from their discography, you can clearly notice that this is their weaker effort. But does that fact make this studio album suck? Not of course, this is very, very good one, but not excellent like others before and after this one. This studio album is the last from their early hard 'n' heavy Gamma Ray era ('cause their first 3 studio albums contain lots of classic/hard rock songs and some classic heavy/power metal songs as well). This is the last studio album with godlike vocalist Ralf Scheepers. But after his departure Kai Hansen continued excellent job as a singer and guitarists, because these two guys are in the same league if we talk about their vocal abilities.

Tribute To The Past clearly shows how songs become memorable thanks to his vocals. Refrain of this song is so catchy, although he was not the only one who contributed creation of this song. Thomas Nack made insane rhythms, just listen to the beginning of this song, and the rest as well, but that intro is incredible. And despite well-written lyrics, and excellent rhythm and guitar solo parts, this one is not excellent, but very good song. There are backing chorus, and song has slower part before the end, and these were not necessary at all. Also great highlight of Ralf's singing is No Return. That song had to grow on me, but beside that fact it's an excellent one. Insanely catchy refrains, excellent lyrics, orgasmic melodic lead guitars, faster tempo, and enjoyable rhythms... what a perfect harmony.

Last Before The Storm and Your Turn Is Over are two the most fierce and blasting power metal songs, made of blazing and raw riffs, powerful vocals, faster tempo and excellent guitar solos. These are excellent songs along with Insanity And Genius, 18 years, Brothers and Heroes. The main difference is these songs are not as fast and fierce as Last Before The Storm and Your Turn Is Over, but perfect on their own way. All of them have excellent vocal parts, riffs, melodies, but they are very different. Heroes is the demo version of the song Changes, which was released on Sigh No More studio album, and this one is listed as Japanese bonus track for this studio album. Lyrics are totally changed in Changes, but the ambient and majestic, epic, neoclassical guitar solo are left untouched.

18 years is complex and a bit progressive ballad. The mood changes from calm to some aggressive parts, and faster tempo in the last minutes of the song. Insanity And Genius is the only very dark and complex song. It has doom metal feel, but with faster tempo, and tempo varies constantly. They wanted to show you how insanity exactly sounds like, and they did it well. Brothers is one of the best sing-along songs which can be classified as classic/hard rock, because it's made of hard riffs, not heavy, distorted riffs. Their less creative work is notable in Future Madhouse. It has insane guitars and drum work at the beginning and very fast tempo, great lyrics, Ralf has some great moments, but besides that this song has nothing special at all. Unfortunately that's not the only mediocre song. Why did the even bother to make so goddamn boring slow song like The Cave Principle, or chaotic song like Heal Me? Kai Hansen sings for the very first time in Gamma Ray, and he sings really bad song.

That is complete mess made of piano driven parts followed with his high vocal range, then some aggressive parts with blazing riffs, and that changes constantly. Some lazy piano parts come again, then some really slow parts, the whole thing is a really bad mess. Kai sang much better on Helloween's Walls Of Jericho, and in Gamma Ray's work which followed this release. This is probably the only band in the world which has cover song with the same name as a band. Song is very good, but not outstanding, and I think Kai had enough time to make his own song, and name it Gamma Ray.

Good sides of this release:
Lots of excellent songs made of killer vocals, intelligent lyrics, insane guitar solos and powerful hard 'n' heavy riffs. This is very good release, and recommended for all Gamma Ray fans. I would not advise this studio album for people who want to get into this band. Newcomers should try out their later work, but they can also start with first two albums, not with this one, 'cause it's really weird.

Bad sides of this release:
Although band members are really skilled and talented individuals, they didn't work well together in some mediocre songs like The Cave Principle, Future Madhouse and Heal Me.

Highlights:
No Return, Last Before The Storm, Insanity And Genius, 18 Years, Your Turn Is Over, Brothers and Heroes.