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Die-Hards Only Beyond This Point - 33%

GuntherTheUndying, May 24th, 2011

In an attempt to capture the electricity that was the "Skeletons in the Closet" collection - Gamma Ray's double-disc live album featuring songs seldom or never played live in the band's lengthy uprising - which truly was a fantastic idea, "Skeletons and Majesties" comes up only to be let down. The EP features two rerecorded tracks from the Ralf Scheepers-era of Gamma Ray‘s biography, two acoustic numbers, a b-side, and some new cuts that may sound interesting, but ultimately aren't. I guess it's kind of cool hearing some new renditions of classic and forgotten tracks, but "Skeletons and Majesties" is still pretty worthless. Not to mention the ghastly b-side "Wannabees" made me barf over my Gamma Ray records. Unintentionally, of course.

The EP starts out on a strong note with the updated copies of "Hold Your Ground" and "Brothers," two songs that I wasn't particularly fond of until this recording. Kai Hansen's voice overtaking Ralf Scheepers' is the bringer of blessing; he fits right in and sounds natural, whereas Scheepers did not. The seminal lineup Gamma Ray has maintained, too, shows off a galloping chemistry that really brings these two tracks to a higher temperature, although musically few things separate them from their prototypes. Things begin to decline when the unplugged takes of "Send me a Sign" and "Rebellion in Dreamland" buzz to the forefront of the EP, with both songs lacking the excitement or clarity that made the opening numbers so enjoyable. But for acoustic tracks, there sure are a lot of keyboards, and the guitar solo during "Send me a Sign" is very much plugged in, I'm afraid.

Listening to "Wannabees" is just painful. Gamma Ray basically goes into this non-serious, half-assed slab of bland riffs and Kai Hansen doing this narrative voice throughout the verses before coming to a strange march-like bridge. It's not very serious, sure, but wow, it sure does suck a big one. The extended version of "Brothers" is listenable, and the instrumental tracking of "Rebellion in Dreamland" might appeal to some mega-fans, but what's the point? "Skeletons and Majesties" is more or less a collection of material which targets longtime fans with the two rerecorded tunes before turning down a road of clichés and hardships that aren't up to par and look directionless and vapid. Die-hards only.

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