GAMMA RAY - Empire of the Undead - CD - Armoury - 2014
Empire of the Undead? Seriously?
What a lame title, and there is even a title track which carries it. Yep, it's
such a lame title that we really wanted to butcher this latest release by Gamma
But then we gave it a few spins, and then some more. Mostly while driving -
the setting in which we typically sample and filter the many digital promos we
receive. And we realized: we want Gamma Ray music to be lame!
The opening track - "Avalon" might fool you, though. It's an
impressive epos, with a proper buildup that includes choral accompaniment and
some Queen-derived theatrics, and while it reveals the high production
standards and the capable playing, this piece might actually lead you to think
this is a serious, even somewhat original album.
"Hellbent" follows and does a bit to
correct the impression: with an unavoidable, demanding reference to a classic
Judas Priest song, this is a metal anthem like a metal anthem should be,
praising metal and sounding like it was taken off the 1990 genre defining album
Painkiller, with Priest styled guitar duels and clean high vocals soaked
in Accept styled cat growls and thrash hints. A few tracks later, "Master
of Confusion" features mocking laughter and some glam rock, and by now you
understand that (at least some of) this album is a self
aware joke, which Gamma Ray does not even try to hide.
And there's no reason to hide it: Gamma Ray is vital and kicking, and these
guys can write good, even great, memorable tunes with some invigorating playing
- all true to their function. This is by-the-book metal, but it's
first class all the way. In fact, this is Gamma Ray at its most elegant yet
effectively hard rocking form. Plentiful with articulate guitar solos (as
opposed to a lot of generic ones found in similar works), with a
vocal performance that is enthusiastic, grabbing melodies and lively tempos -
this album is basically everything you will need for your guilty metal
pleasure. Even the power ballad, "Time for Deliverance,"
is delivered with an appropriate pathos and with a thoughtful guitar playing
that make it work despite its cheesiness.
The band achieves a good balance between speed and passion on this highly
entertaining and rocking metal release. If you want a dose of typical, cliched yet varied heavy metal of the highest standards -
you simply cannot go wrong with this one! (8/10)
[Our Gut Feeling on this release is available here]
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