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For the Kai worshippers among us. - 95%

hells_unicorn, November 29th, 2008

It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone who would purchase a karaoke album by any metal band would be among the most committed of fans, in every sense of the word. But one who buys a karaoke album of a band that prides itself on challenging Judas Priest for the most ridiculously high vocal extravaganza in metal history, that’s the sort of commitment that only a resident of a maximum security psychiatric ward could appreciate. Who would be crazy enough to purchase such an album and try to sing every melody on these 10 classic Gamma Ray songs note for note? Well, I was, and technically I still am since I test my vocal limits on extended road trips to this.

Putting my impossible aspirations of being Kai Hansen aside for a moment, musically this release does have a couple of functions aside from being a tool for power metal fan boys who want to become vocalists when they grow up. There are things going on in the arrangements of a lot of this material, but most specifically the material from “Somewhere Out In Space” which are utterly buried by the lead vocals. Much like those miniscule little details that you take for granted in the background of a movie set, which you’d likely miss if they weren’t there, there are a plethora of keyboard counter-themes, lead guitar fills and bass activity that you all but completely miss next to the fury of Kai’s mighty pipes. Consider it a sort of behind the scenes tour that DVDs often have as special features if this doesn’t make any sense to you.

This isn’t necessarily limited to the “Somewhere Out In Space” material, nor even the music if you account for the vocal material that’s left in. There’s nothing quite like a bunch of power metal songs with no lead vocals to make you appreciate the function of the melodic gang choruses these crazy Germans love so much. It’s mostly a factor on “Somewhere In Space”, but there are a fair share of them leaping in and out of “Time To Break Free” and “Abyss Of The Void”. Oh and let us not forget all the riffs piled upon riffs going on during the various sections of “Man On A Mission”. I’ve been listening to this song for the better part of 10 years and I didn’t even know they had that one lead guitar theme underneath the pre-chorus until I heard it without the vocals.

Anyway, for those of you who are a little curious as to what its like to try to sing through all of these songs without Kai’s voice covering up all of your rhythmic mistakes and off-tune notes, I was surprised myself after I got finished with it the first time through. The easiest song on here is “Time To Break Free”, which may shock most Michael Kiske enthusiasts who recall his amazing work on the Keepers albums. The hardest one, by a pretty significant margin, was “Heading For Tomorrow”. I swear I nearly severed my vocal chords trying to hit that high note that he does during the chorus, especially after those brutal verses. To all of you Ralf Scheepers detractors out there, I challenge you to try downloading the karaoke version of this song and record yourself singing it and then tell me that he’s still a sucky vocalist.

This is fodder for core fans only, as I doubt that most every day fans of metal can stand listening to a bunch of songs with no vocals. If you love Gamma Ray and want to learn some of their songs on guitar, this might be a good tool for hearing those background parts. And if you want to become a power metal vocalist, this little CD is the absolute acid test as far as I’m concerned. Naturally since this is a pretty small segment of the listening public, this will remain a cult release regardless to how much lavish praise I shower it with, so unless you’ve got money to blow, just wait until they put out their next album.