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HARDWARES

GAMMA RAY

To The Metal

(earMusic/Edel)

Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 8.0

So, think you know Gamma Ray? Yeah, it’s the decades old, Germanic power metal band founded by former Helloween guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen, which also spawned Primal Fear frontman Ralf Scheepers, but these eleven latest tracks attempt to downplay that pedigree, to some degree. Unlike many of their contemporaries they’ve steered clear of orchestral interference. No, they’ve not gone death/thrash/black or any other non-metallic offshoot, but this isn’t galloping rhythms end-to-end. Far from it, especially the closing '70s (Who) inspired, acoustic/piano ballad ‘No Need To Cry’. The title cut is a blatant page from the Judas Priest playbook. Hell, it even references “the metal gods”! (a similarly British guitar/drum interplay is evident within ‘Mother Angel’ and there’s a certain ‘Loch Ness’ vibe opening the album, on ‘Empathy’). The lyrics for said track reel off a litany of mankind’s sins. ‘Time To Live’ follows a familiar Gamma pattern (even if it briefly employs harpsichord), a bit slower than the full-on ‘Rise’, but both are of the variety alluded to in the opening sentence, the kind of song with which Hansen has become gloriously synonymous. ‘Shine Forever’ is the pinnacle, as far as speed and high-pitched vocals go on To The Metal. It also features mini-solo/showcases for each instrument. Apart from the aforementioned finale, the most conventional (strongest?) material appears on the later half of the disc.




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