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Nice reissue but average album - 75%

kluseba, July 26th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, 2CD, earMUSIC

Insanity and Genius is Gamma Ray's last studio release with Ralf Scheepers on vocals and the third studio effort in the series of re-issued records to celebrate twenty-five years of heavy metal from Hamburg. The entire back catalogue of the band was supposed to be released within a year but it took nearly a year between the first reissue and this one which is regrettable. Let's hope that the next reissues will be released much quicker.

As always, this reissue includes a few new nice gimmicks. The cover artwork is much better than the ordinary original. The booklet features extensive liner notes, a few nice pictures and lyrics for all new songs on this release. The first disc includes the original album in a nicely remastered version while the second disc comes around with eight rare or previously unreleased tunes. The brand new live in studio recordings with the new line-up are quite energizing. The extended version of the song "Gamma Ray" is better than the edited version on the original studio album. The demo recordings with Ralf Scheepers have a powerful vibe and prove what a gifted and underrated singer he is. The cover of Judas Priest's "Exciter" shows that Ralf Scheepers was much inspired by Rob Halford. It's no coincidence that the first three Gamma Ray records have a more traditional heavy metal vibe while the other albums are generally inspired by European power metal.

While the second disc is diversified, dynamic and interesting to listen to, the original record is only of a good average quality at best. The album is solid and has a coherent and powerful heavy metal vibe but the big hits, experiments or emotions are somewhat missing. There are neither killers nor fillers on this record and I would only recommend this release to faithful collectors of everything Gamma Ray has released and to fans of heavy metal in the key of Judas Priest in the eighties. Tracks like the straight opener "Tribute to the Past" or the powerful "Last Before the Storm" are among Gamma Ray's heavier tunes but also somewhat exchangeable and don't really offer creative song writing. Tracks like "No Return" or "Brothers" sound like pale copies of songs from Gamma Ray's first two studio efforts. In general, this stagnating album is lacking creativity and mostly saved by its energizing heavy metal spirit and an excellent performance by vocalist Ralf Scheepers. Among the more interesting tunes, one should note the slower and slightly psychedelic "The Cave Principle", the title song "Insanity and Genius" with its Middle Eastern folk vibes in the chorus and one of Ralf Scheeper's most diversified vocal performances and the slightly progressive power ballad "Heal Me" that has some Queen vibes but even these highlights need a few spins to really unfold.

In the end, faithful collectors and fans of heavy metal from the early and mid-eighties should give this record a try. Occasional listeners can skip this effort. Potential new Gamma Ray fans should start with the band's excellent debut album Heading for Tomorrow, the greatest hits release Blast from the Past or the live record Hell Yeah !!! The Awesome Foursome and the Finnish Keyboarder Who Didn't Want to Wear His Donald Duck Costume - Live in Montreal. In the end, even in its enjoyably reissued form, Insanity and Genius clearly isn't among Gamma Ray's best efforts.