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GAMMA RAY - No World Order - CD - Noise Records
There is no doubt that Gamma Ray is one of the most
popular and successful power metal bands in the world. What's astounding
is that considering this, Gamma Ray doesn't have its own signature sound.
It's incredible. Whereas critics of Stratovarius will point out that that
band has been remaking the same album over and over again for the past
six years, at least you can clearly identify a Stratovarius album when
you hear one.
And then there is Gamma Ray, this baffling entity.
The band's last album, Powerplant, received much critical acclaim,
despite being nothing but a compilation of riffs and signatures stolen
from other well-known (and lesser well-known) bands. The best song on
that album was ironically the Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin," which we suppose
worked because we knew coming in that, being a cover, Gamma Ray wasn't
expecting us to hope for any original ideas.
And so we are presented with No World Order,
which is a remake of Powerplant, except not as fun. At least Powerplant
had hilarious choruses that were cheesy but catchy ("Anywhere!…in the
galaxy! (backup singer) IN THE GA-LA-XIIIIIIIE!!!") to go along with the
shocking void of originality factor. But it's worse than that. There is
very little effort to cover up the cut out pieces of previous bands' ideas.
"The Heart of the Unicorn" is a Judas Priest song under another name.
On this song, and at least two others, I couldn't help but sing "He.Is.The
Pain-Killah!" to myself during the choruses. "Solid" may just as well
have been named "Rapid Fire 2."
"Damn the Machine" not only is an obvious Metallica
clone, but Kai Hansen even adopts a James Hetfield-like vocal punctuation.
What gives? Gamma Ray will go from a part that sounds like Manowar, to
a part that sounds like Judas Priest, to a part that sounds like Metallica,
to a part that sounds like Helloween (not to mention all the other riffs
that reminded me of other bands which I can't immediately place), all
in one song. We should at least excuse the Helloween similarities, as
Hansen did found that band. But come on; "Fire Below" features a chorus
that sounds like a reworking of the chorus from "Out of the Silent Planet"
from Iron Maiden's latest album.
There is no question regarding Gamma Ray's musical
talents. Kai Hansen can play guitar well, and he's a gifted singer. Dan
Zimmermann is a great drummer, and Henjo Richter and Dirk Schlächter are
unquestionably in the band because of their ability, but how can the end
result be this lame? Are we being more severe with Gamma Ray than a lesser-known
band? Certainly, but Kai Hansen and Gamma Ray should be expected to live
up to the hype and find their own voice rather than releasing album after
album of blatant riff recycle.
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