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Near-Perfect Power Metal - 97%

NecroWraith, February 11th, 2007

First of all, I must point out that this album IS different from previous Gamma Ray releases. But this change is not necessarily bad. In fact, I like the new turn the band took. They shed some of their speed metal elements that could be heard on most of their previous releases, and added more power metal with the likes of classic Keeper-era Helloween.

True, a little bit of self-plagiarism is evident here. A lot of the songs contain traces of songs Kai Hansen wrote before for Helloween. But around 95% of the elements found here are all original. This is power metal at it’s finest.

Let me start of by complimenting Kai’s voice. It is simply amazing, and fit in flawlessly with the music he writes. He has several different singing styles, and can sing both lower, as well as higher and more operatically like Bruce Dickinson of ‘Iron Maiden’ fame, and Rob Halford of ‘Judas Priest.’ His voice seems to be new and fresh at each song, and it never fails to amaze me. Great job, Kai.

The guitars on here are another great success. Both the solos and riffs are extremely catchy, and although (as mentioned before) rip off Helloween from time to time, I never really found that to bother me. They can be both melodious and power-metal-ish, such as at the beginning of ‘Heaven Or Hell,’ (which I find to be one of the best track-openers of all time), or they can be fast and pounding crunching riffs, like in ‘Dethrone Tyranny.’

Drums and bass are also a great plus. They match perfectly, and add a lot of power to the music. The playing (percussion, especially) is highly sophisticated and definitely not boring. I noticed often how newer power metal band releases have boring drum-works that sound like something a five-year-old could play. This is definitely no the case with Gamma Ray. As on much of their previous releases as well, the percussion is a great plus.

Another quality I feel is important to mention about this album is the production. It is great, and makes each part of the album clean and a great listening experience. You don’t hear the guitars drowning out the vocals, which is a common problem, but instead it is mixed in such a way that they only bring more power into Kai Hansen’s already-amazing voice.

The opening to ‘No World Order’ is arguably one of the best openers for a metal CD. ‘Introduction’ is a 59 second song that begins with dark, heavy pounding drums and occasional heavy riffs that create the perfect dark atmosphere. Operatic vocals follow up, adding even more to the already-amazing listening atmosphere, and eventually the song transforms into the second track, ‘Dethrone Tyranny.’

The only obvious flaw in this album is the ending. The beginning half is power-metal-glory. When the album reaches ‘Follow Me,’ the third to last song, it is clear to see the song is filler. The next song, ‘Eagle,’ is another amazing Gamma Ray track, but in my opinion doesn’t compare to any of the first songs. The album finishes of with ‘Lake Of Tears,’ which is a ballad. I have nothing against ballads, and although this one is pretty well done, definitely above the average metal ballad, is it lacking something, and doesn’t provide that strong of a closing to such an amazing power metal work of art.

Gamma Ray DID change, but the change is for the better. Not only an essential release for a power metal fan, but a fan of any style of metal. Amazing songwriting, great guitars godly vocals, ‘No World Order’ has it all. Hail Gamma Ray!

-Marcin C.