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Misplaced changes - 72%

kluseba, August 23rd, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, 2CD, earMUSIC (Reissue, Remastered, Anniversary edition, Digipak)

Gamma Ray's sophomore studio album Sigh No More offers a good mixture of heavy and power metal with dynamic bass guitar, fast drums, high-pitched vocals, intelligent lyrics, melodic lead guitars and sharp riffs that should please genre fans. The reason why the album wasn't received very well back in the days and is still rather overlooked as we speak is because it followed the nearly flawless predecessor Heading for Tomorrow with its dynamic power metal anthems, heartfelt ballads and at times almost progressive epics. If compared to band leader Kai Hansen's significant contributions to the power metal scene with Helloween in the eighties and Gamma Ray's stunning debut, this is the first time he released an album that was only good but not more.

Things kick off complicatedly with opener ''Changes''. The song does its title justice as it's a quite diverse track with numerous interesting song writing ideas that are exciting but don't always sound very fluid. It takes at least three spins for the track to grow on the listener and make sense. It's however completely misplaced as an opener, probably even the worst choice for the first position among the ten tracks on this album.

''Rich & Famous'' is a little bit faster and more melodic, has a relatively catchy chorus and features lyrics that would inspire future Gamma Ray but also Helloween songs, criticizing the greed of starlets and their associates. ''As Time Goes By'' is a dynamic song where the musicians break free and experiment a little bit with their instruments and it's great fun to listen to this song that almost recalls a jam session. ''Father and Son'' is a ballad with interesting lyrics and even though it can't equal similar songs of the past, it's still a highlight on this album. The same could be said about the epic ''One with the World'' with its beautiful harmonies and almost spiritual lyrics. My personal highlight remains the progressive power metal pearl ''Dream Healer'' which is easily the longest song with six and a half minutes and fits the band's usually ambitious song writing standards.

However, most of the songs are surprisingly short yet they don't sound really fleshed out to my ears. ''Changes'' exemplifies the lack of fluid song writing best but there are similar examples, especially in the second half of the album. ''The Spirit'' seems to be torn between a slow-burning power metal epic and an unconvincing half-ballad before it ends prematurely after only four minutes without going anywhere at all. The unusually serious ''We Won't Stop the War'' is almost an antithesis to lyrics of tracks like ''The Spirit'' and feels quite misplaced. On a relatively short record consisting of ten songs, it's an issue when half of the tracks seem to be fillers or b-sides at best.

The remastered special edition of this record features a new cover artwork that looks much better than the silly original cover art that might cause eye cancer. In addition, the extensive booklet features some background information about the album as well as all the lyrics and a few band pictures. There are fourteen bonus tracks which are mostly alternative or live versions of songs from this release. They sound great but end up being repetitive. A coherent recording of a complete live show back in the days would have been much more interesting in my book.

In the end, Sigh No More is slightly better than its reputation but it certainly isn't Gamma Ray's greatest hour. Both the creative predecessor Heading for Tomorrow and the more consistent successor Insanity and Genius are better records. This release is for faithful collectors and unconditional genre fans. The highlights of this release are the moments when the individual talent of the musicians shines through and Ralf Scheepers' great vocals. On the downside, you have to make it through quite inconsistent songwriting. I would recommend purchasing this remastered version for a reasonably low price only.