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Gamma Ray: Alive '95 (2CD reissue)
Released in 1996 but, as its name suggests, recorded the year before, Alive '95 was pieced together from various shows on Gamma Ray's tour around Europe promoting their excellent studio release, Land Of The Free. As such it captures the line-up of singer, guitarist and mainman Kai Hansen alongside second guitarist and keyboard player Dirk Schlächter, bassist Jan Rubach and drummer Thomas Nack, as they brought this version of the band to a close; Rubach and Nack moving on not long after as Schlächter became the band'a bassist. Here however they are a slick, powerful unit delivering an excellent set of songs with enthusiasm and vim. Based round their most recent studio offering, half of the original twelve tracks come from Land Of The Free - that true return to their roots mined to good effect as its title cut, "Man On A Mission" and "Rebellion In Dreamland" all ably illustrate.
Originally only three older Gamma Ray cuts make the set, "Space Eater", "Heal Me" and "Tribute To The Past" faring well, while the first album song "Lust For Life", which was previously a 'non-European bonus' now comes as standard on this edition. As does a second CD that was initially not included on European versions of the album - but more of that in a minute.
As a document of the power and force Gamma Ray brought with their concise take on speed metal (Hansen did go a long way to inventing it after all), Alive '95 is a fine example of just what this band were capable of. Add in two Helloween covers in the shape of "Ride The Sky" and "Future World" alongside the Holocaust cover, "Heavy Metal Mania" and there really is little to complain about.
Featuring six songs, disc two reaches further back into Gamma Ray time, the band's original singer Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) taking the helm for a 1993 live recording that makes a whistle stop tour of the band's first three albums. Hansen may well be a singer full of character and enthusiasm, but even he'd agree that technically Scheepers was and is a better vocalist. His power and range across "No Return", "Heading For Tomorrow" and "Last Before The Storm" impressive indeed. As is this short insight into this earlier version of the band.
Why the second CD and "Lust For Life" were culled from the European versions of Alive '95 when it first emerged, I'm not sure. However to have all of this excellent live material from one of Europe's most respected exponents of power metal brought together as it should always have been, is a welcome turn of events and one Gamma Ray fans are sure to celebrate.
1. Land of the Free
2. Man on a Mission
3. Rebellion in Dreamland
4. Space Eater
6. Tribute to the Past
7. Heal Me
8. The Saviour
9. Abyss of the Void
10. Ride the Sky
11. Future World
12. Heavy Metal Mania
13. Lust for Life
1. No Return
3. Insanity & Genius
4. Last Before the Storm
5. Future Madhouse
6. Heading for Tomorrow
Added: September 23rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Gamma Ray online
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