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GAMMA RAY - No World Order - CD - Noise Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

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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