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Let us rise! - 90%

BlackMetal213, December 19th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2010, CD + DVD, earMUSIC (Deluxe edition, Digipak)

Today has been a fairly productive day for me on this site. This is my sixth review from today alone, and I haven't written this many reviews at one time. Why is that? What is this sorcery? I dunno but I have the day off and I am about to go home on holiday leave, so eff it I guess. Anyway, "To the Metal!" is Gamma Ray's 10th album and a very enjoyable one at that. Out of their entire discography, I'm only familiar with this, as well as the first "Land of the Free" album and "No World Order". I enjoy power metal but I don't usually go out of my way to listen to it. This was the first Gamma Ray album I listened to, shortly after it was first released. It was recommended to me by someone who I can't remember, but whoever it was, thanks.

This album is pretty much a blend of power and speed metal. This is not particularly aggressive music but it is not "sissy" either, and doesn't manage to sound overly cheesy the entire time, which seems to be a common trait of power metal (really, when a band writes about fairies and magic, you can kind of see why this would be a common trait). I like Rhapsody of Fire and Gloryhammer just as much as the next guy, but come on. The cheese guy at the Olive Garden told me to say "when", and I said "when" long ago! I kid of course, but I digress.

In terms of guitars, they are the driving force of this album's sound. They are super melodic and over-the-top, really, giving them the fitting description of "epic". This is definitely one epic metal album. "Time to Live" has one of the biggest choruses on the album and the guitars just soar ever higher on that final chorus after the brief acoustic interlude, which really makes me want to take a sword and go to the top of Pikes Peak, and hold it to the sky. "Rise" is another one of the bigger tracks to be heard which features a similar chorus in terms of overall effect. This is one of the faster songs, if not the fastest, but has another contender fighting for that title. It's heavier on the speed metal sound. It is rivaled by "Shine Forever" in terms of speed, though. This song comes off a bit more cheesy but has a very similar tempo. The chorus is not nearly as good though and sounds a bit forced and lacking.

I dare say "Mother Angel" is my favorite track overall. Maybe this is due to the fact that "Mother Angel" was the first song on this album, and from this band, I had ever heard. It is more of a standard, rocking heavy metal track that has a catchy, melodic chorus. Like "Time to Live", the song's final chorus takes it to new heights. The solo is one of the finest to be heard here.

Ah yes, the bass. The bass is clearly audible throughout although they are perhaps at their most prominent in "Shine Forever". He gets some really cool leads in this song, apparent right away during the intro. It is really nice to be able to enjoy my favorite instrument during one of these rare occasions. This may not be an innovative album, and we certainly have heard this style before and done better. The vocals are done well and Kai Hansen's range is pretty impressive. He doesn't just stick to high-pitched singing, but he does handle it well when the time comes. A fun album with some catchy tunes, "To the Metal!" is unforgettable for me, being one of my first power metal records as well as my first from Gamma Ray.