Rating:
8.0
Gamma Ray - Empire Of The Undead
28 March 2014


Disc I
01. Avalon
02. Hellbent
03. Pale Rider
04. Born To Fly
05. Master Of Confusion
06. Empire Of The Undead
07. Time For Deliverance
08. Demonseed
09. Seven
10. I Will Return
11. Built A World [European bonus]
12. Avalon [Digipack bonus] [Live from the final studio sessions]
13. The Spirit [Digipack bonus] [Live from the final studio sessions]
14. Empire Of The Undead [Digipack bonus] [Live from the final studio sessions]

Disc II [DVD Digipack version]
Live from the final studio sessions:
01. The Spirit
02. Empire Of The Undead
03. Demonseed
04. Empathy

+ Tour Of Hamburg with Gamma Ray
+ Interview with Kai Hansen & Gamma Ray
+ To The Metal Promo Video
+ Live Videos From Skeletons & Majesties
    1 - Gamma Ray
    2 - Wings Of Destiny
    3 - Send Me A Sign [acoustic version]


The more 2014 goes on, the more it confirms that, this year, power metal is clinging to its heavyweights. After Iron Savior, Freedom Call, Sonata Arctica, Primal Fear and Edguy, now it's the time for Gamma Ray to unleash their opus.

Already from the 2013 EP Master Of Confusion many sensed that Empire Of The Undead promised to actually be something, as the two new tracks had shown a band in great shape and a definitely stronger sound compared to the more-than-half-disappointment that 2010's To The Metal was.

And Empire Of The Undead lives up to the expectations, showing a band that, though staying totally faithful to their trademark sound, isn't afraid to try something a little more elaborate or diverse. Respectively, the 9-minutes-long opener "Avalon", that is reminiscent, in length and impact on the listener, of that masterpiece that was "Rebellion In Dreamland" from 1995's Land Of The Free, and the Queen-esque "Time For Deliverance", the closest thing to a ballad in this otherwise restless album.

But, obviously, we are talking about a Gamma Ray album, and in-the-face power metal and haunting choruses is what we're getting. Empire Of The Undead is once again that mix of high-paced strength and happy epicness that we all learned to love. The guys deliver a great performance, with some surprisingly educated vocals kindly offered by Kai Hansen and the music reminding us how riff and drumming don't have to be that difficult to be effective and memorable.

As almost everything, Empire Of The Undead isn't flawless, since it sometimes falls in the "already heard" cliché, at times subtly while other times with blatant vividness, in particular with "Master Of Confusion" and "Seven", which happen to have almost the same main riff. Unless this isn't some kind of a clever move to recall tunes throughout the album, aiming at an embryonic ring composition, but I personally doubt that.

The fire that unfortunately tore apart the band's studio in Hamburg seems now to have positively rewarmed the inspiration of these guys, who may be aging according to the registry, but have released their youngest album since the marvellous run from 1995-2001, that went from Land Of The Free to No World Order.

Seems like "undead" was just the right topic for this album.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 9


Band profile: Gamma Ray
Album: Empire Of The Undead


 



Written on 10.05.2014 by
R Lewis
Hopefully you won't agree with me, diversity of opinions is what makes metal so beautiful and varied.

So... critics and advices absolutely welcome.
More reviews by R Lewis ››



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Teravolt_Danny - 11.05.2014 at 03:23  
Never been able to get into these guys, not sure what it is. I'm generally a fan of power metal.
deadone - 12.05.2014 at 03:07  
Thanks for the review.

I'm finding this one to be a bit average.

There were some great moments but overall the album was too long and a lot of it was too weak.


I am also getting tired of the "tributes/rip offs" that have become a key part of the band since "Land of the Free II" - there were blatant Helloween, Metallica and Queen stuff here. And it was too close to the originals - I found myself thinking Hit The Lights or Ride The Sky or We Are The Champions (and I hated it when Helloween did "We Will Rock You" in the form of "Wannabe God" on Straight Out Of Hell") .


It amazes me to say this but I think the new Primal Fear kicked Gamma Ray's butt.

Just my $0.02.
Truemetaljope - 13.05.2014 at 12:34  
It's surprising to see so many high rates and reviews for this album when I find it quite bad. Gotta admit that Avalon is a good track and it raised my expectations and hopes that they had changed for the better. Unfortunately that was not the case. The rest of the album didn't convince me at all.
Honza - 14.05.2014 at 19:51  
I allways placed Gamma Ray between my favourite bands in genre. This album is not the best, but it brings everything what I expected. For me, there are two leading tracks on the album. Avalon and Pale Rider. Both are very memorable and both worth listening again and again.
It´s good to hear, that new drummer doesn´t affect the band in bad way. I liked to see Dan Zimmerman on the stage very much and Michael Ehré isn´t much way far from his standards.
For me, Gamma Ray means two things. Very own voice of Kai, not best voice in metal but I love it, and Henjo Richters solo parts.
My score is 8/10.
R Lewis - 14.05.2014 at 20:55  
Written by Honza on 14.05.2014 at 19:51

For me, there are two leading tracks on the album. Avalon and Pale Rider. Both are very memorable and both worth listening again and again.

"Burn motherfucker, time to feel the flame / Listen to the whiplash, crack your brain"
Love that part

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