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Gamma Ray At It's Best! - 99%

Black_Metal_Elite, September 20th, 2008

Gamma Ray max out here. It took four years, but the finally created the ultimate power metal album. It’s not ‘perfect perfect’, but pretty much the top of the genre. Solid riffing, total speed, insane solos, ripping chorus’, and a solid length with no fillers. At first I thought there would be tons of fillers, but really each song is amazing in its own way. Some stand out better than others, and some just take a while to get used to.

While being on tour for four years, something must’ve pissed them all off in some way. They did make the best live album in history called “Skeletons In The Closet”, but other than that, all the creative energy built up. You can see almost every band member contributed to the songwriting. Henjo is finally allowed to shine too! Kai gave him the spotlight on the solo’s now. It seems to be a new formula that has emerged. Henjo does a fuck load of shredding, while Kai does the more melodic passages and the vocals. By now, it’s obvious Gamma Ray has the best voice tone any power metal has ever attained. Of course Lost Horizon is just as amazing... but something about Kai just sells itself to you. He was born with melodic veins.

My Temple is difficult to get used to at first. It starts off blazing and slows down into a mid rocker. Gamma Ray show dynamic in terms of song structure now, since most of the songs were either slow or fast only. With alternating speeds, one can enjoy the speed up’s and slow down’s more appropriately. This appears in many other songs, like Spiritual Dictator, Strange World (which is easily Razorblade Sigh Part II), and Blood Religion. Regardless of any song though, all the instruments come through clear as a bell. You can distinguish which cymbal Dan is hitting, what fret Dirk is using and what scale Kai/Henjo are soloing on. Nothing on this album collides with anything at all, which is a beauty in itself.

Some melodies that exist on these albums breathe new life into the band’s songs. By now, most people run out of steam. Look at all the bands that have been going for more than 10-20 years. Kai Hansen has been making songs since Walls Of Jericho in Helloween. That is a LONG TIME... and he manages to come out with majestic? Stunning to say the least. The vocal passages on songs like Strange World and Spiritual Dictator are uber catchy. The same formula is followed on How Long, but from a more *rocker* angle. I would almost say it is something you could find on Judas Priest’s Turbo album. Speaking of Priest, Hell Is Thy Home sounds very similar to Leather Rebel. It really isn’t, it just seems that way because the intro shreds off in the same direction; Dan follows Scott Travis’ fills too so it doesn’t look good on them.

Past huge songs have always been epic. By this I’m referring to Armageddon, Insurrection (LotF II), Shine On, and Heading For Tomorrow. The ending song Revelation is just as good. It doesn’t really follow in the same path and tends to end on a bit more of a drier note; though compensates perfectly with the general melody and rhythm that is driven forward by the band member. Symphonic instruments and vocals are utilized in an appropriate fashion, and the theme of hell is driven further. The entire album is based around hell... especially if you listen to the title song Majesty. There is no hook there; yet it is the most powerful song on the album.
Whoever wrote that has some nice satanic worshiping going on. This would easily...without a doubt... fit on ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’ by Emperor. Of course the vocals would have to be Ihsahn’d, but the lyrical content is totally early Emperor. Throw some tremolo’ing in fuzz it up, and you have a perfect song for them. Now of course, with Kai singing it... the worship thing feels weird, but damn! The imagery! Just listen to the lyrics... the solo complements it in an unorthodox way (he could have at least used a Phrygian scale or something darker) but all comes together to be one of the darkest songs Kai has ever written.

I can see why people all over the world sort of don’t cling to the album very much. Being a metal site it fits the mood perfectly. I’m not saying all metal is evil and satanic, but the execution of this album is on a whole other level. Most people outside of Metal Archives listen to Gamma Ray due to their positive energy. That energy is absent here, and is filled with mal-contempt and anger. I doubt the band itself was actually angry when they wrote this, but something negative was brewing. This album is how to channel that energy right, and has songs for everyone. This is the prime power metal album—and no I do not give it my highest rating because of the darkness. I give it the rating it deserves based on all the factors. No fillers, no boring moments, tons of perfectly done solos, and something in every song to keep you wanting more. This is genius. This is, majestic.

Oh, Hellfire sort of sucks. If it was not a bonus track I would have reduced the rating.