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Gamma Ray: Majestic

Majestic, Gamma Ray's eighth studio album, was a difficult one to review - but not because of the music. What proved most challenging was working my way through the promo copy Sanctuary Records provided. In an obvious attempt to discourage illegal disc burning and file sharing, the label allowed the sound to fade in and out of static-filled voids several times during every song. The result is a disjointed presentation that affected my enjoyment of the album. However, objective reviewer that I am, I will not let a record label's fear of more people actually hearing the music it releases cloud my judgment of the record ...

While Gamma Ray's current incarnation - Kai Hansen (vocals, guitar), Dirk Schlächter (bass), Henjo Richter (guitar, keys) and Daniel Zimmermann (drums) - has been in place for 10 years after several early lineup changes, the band's sound has not evolved greatly. But with Richter and Zimmermann contributing more to Hansen's songs this time around, evidence of subtle musical shifts can be heard. Most noticeable is the darker tone permeating Majestic. Although still rife with metal hymns and arena anthems that cross Iron Maiden with Helloween, the new songs are colored with blood-red undertones and an unexpected preoccupation with religious imagery. Song titles like "My Temple," "Hell Is Thy Home," "Blood Religion," "Condemned to Hell" and "Spiritual Dictator" indicate a theme, but without a lyric sheet - cheers again, Sanctuary - I'll be damned if I know what that theme is.

Gamma Ray appears to be one of those groups destined to remain a cult favorite making consistently solid traditional power metal that you don't mind hearing but that you also don't go out of your way to spin on a regular basis. There's nothing remotely challenging or risky on Majestic, which is probably just fine with the Gamma Ray faithful. As evidence, consider that the poll on the band's web site reveals Majestic's faster, more traditional-sounding songs emerging as early fan favorites.

Track Listing:
1) My Temple
2) Fight
3) Strange World
4) Hell Is My Home
5) Blood Religion
6) Condemned to Hell
7) Spiritual Dictator
8) Majesty
9) How Long
10) Revelation

Added: October 4th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Gamma Ray Web Site
Hits: 3756
Language: english

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