Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Two different bands: one great, one not - 56%

gasmask_colostomy, May 27th, 2015

The attraction of power metal for me came more from the modern-sounding, heavier albums like Helloween's 'Better Than Raw', Stratovarius's post-Tolkki releases, and Gamma Ray's 'No World Order'. The problem with power metal came for me when I ventured back into those bands' catalogues and found some rather weak and overblown heavy metal albums that left me with very few of the things I had come to love. Helloween's 'Keepers' albums are not all they are cracked up to be, Stratovarius had good albums in the late 90s, but their first couple of releases were slow and gloomy, while Gamma Ray turned out to be a different band entirely, which pissed me off at first and made me listen to 'Sigh No More' and 'Heading for Tomorrow' with a sour expression.

The style of the first Gamma Ray albums were not really centered around power metal at all, more frequently drawing inspiration from classic metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, plus a host of other, less intense, rock bands of the 80s. Yes, I am thinking of Guns 'N' Roses, Aerosmith, even Van Halen, and some of the stadium bands. The problem with this formula for me is that there are several songs on both early releases that just don't suit my tastes at all, while the themes and lyrics are sometimes so broad and generic that I want to erase the idea from my mind - seriously, 'Free Time', 'Money', 'Father and Son'? For me, the songs with more energy and invention are where the band sounds best, both from a musical and vocal point of view. Ralf Scheepers, for me, is a worse vocalist than Kai Hansen, especially if you've heard his performance on 'Somewhere Out in Space' or 'New World Order': he has some boring vocal lines and a generally average voice at slow or mid-pace, though when the band start to rip, he gets to show off some rather powerful lungs.

The production on this album has been slated by a few reviewers and, imperfect though it may be, I don't mind it too much despite my usual preference for powerful sounds and emphasis on guitars. The drums aren't annoying, neither in the way they sound (not too slappy, not too cardboard) nor in their patterns, which are usually upbeat and reasonably interesting, and it's good to actually hear the bass for once, especially in songs when the guitars aren't doing that much. The riffs are lacking though, there's no avoiding that fact. There are songs like 'One with the World', where chugging and keyboards replaces any actual note patterns, while I find myself in a state of general amnesia about most of the riffs here, not to say they are all bad. The solos are, as expected, the high point of the album, but the pace of several songs is not calculated to put me in a good mood. 'Changes' is one of the most coasting songs I've heard from Gamma Ray and an awful choice for opener, while 'Father and Son' is a ballad that tries to make itself exciting with acoustic and electric solos, which simply make the overall song seem poor and the solos out of place.

There are two songs that I really like, which are 'As Time Goes By' and 'Dream Healer': the former is exactly the reason I bought this album, because I thought Gamma Ray could sound edge-of-the-seat exciting and alive when they add some pace and conviction; the latter isn't so fast, but it doesn't need to be, simply oozing class from the sinister build-up to the flowing Maiden-esque lead to the quieter mid-section and the thunderous conclusion. I'm also rather partial to 'Start Running', another quick power metal song, and '(We Won't) Stop the War', which sounds more like a slightly funky rock song (the post-chorus riff reminds me of Red Hot Chili Pepper's 'Suck My Kiss') and it's totally out of place but has a certain momentum and attitude that rocks like a good-time song.

In total, 'Sigh No More' isn't a cohesive album and isn't what I would call power metal. About half of it has the Helloween influence you might expect, while the other half is completely off the wall and occasionally very boring. It doesn't play well from start to finish and certainly won't satisfy everyone, but there are several good songs that are worth visiting regularly, as well as some trash to forget.