Release DetailsLABEL SPV
RELEASED ON 1/15/2008
Land Of The Free II
posted on 1/2008 By:
Anyone who’s already a fan of Gamma Ray knows full well not to expect any kind of surprises from a new album. They know that a new Gamma Ray album will be more of the same, seeing as the band has yet to throw their fans a curveball in over a decade, which was when power metal legend, Kai Hansen, finally stepped up to the microphone after Ralph Scheepers was ushered out of the band.
So with a span of 12 years and 4 albums since Kai took the vocal reigns the band has decided it’s time to take a step back, at least in name, and release a sequel to Land of the Free, which is the album every Gamma Ray fan holds up as the band’s pinnacle. Each album since Ralf Scheepers departed has followed a pretty steady formula with straightforward power metal and traditional metal overtone. Big anthemic choruses, heavy riffing, and some heavy Judas Priest worship and you have the basic premise of Gamma Ray post-1995. So here in 2008 (2007 in Europe) Gamma Ray has decided it’s time to try to live up to the original praise and hype associated with Land of the Free and create the sequel.
Much like with Kai’s previous band Helloween, who released a sequel to their Keepers albums from the 80’s, Gamma Ray will never live up to the original Land of the Free. No matter how good this album is, there’s too much time in between and far too much nostalgia tied to the original for the old fans to even consider a new album being in the same class as a classic. The bottom line here is the band immediately screwed themselves, as far as fan and critic reaction goes, just in naming this album Land of the Free II. The problem with this is that every single person who complains about this album will be doing so based on the name only as the band has delivered what is easily in the top two or three albums they have yet to release.
While it can’t be denied that Land of the Free II is simply Gamma Ray doing what Gamma Ray does best, showing no deviation from previous albums, it’s hard to ignore the life and vigour in the music. Very few bands can sound as energetic as Gamma Ray, not to mention how few can write so many great melodies and songs. It’s simply surprising when a band can see so little change, yet that exuberance, that excitement, that pure love of the music still shines through. “Rain”, “Into the Storm”, “When the World” and “Real World” sound as good as anything the band has done before.
“Into the Storm” sits as a great nod to more traditional heavy metal, light on the double bass, heavy on the simple bouncing rhythms and big anthemic chorus'. From that initial punch things move onto “From the Ashes” which has as much Iron Maiden gallop (“Only the Good Die Young” anyone?) as it does Euro-power lead guitar melodies. My favorite song, “Rain” has probably the heaviest riff while tossing around some of the best dual guitar melodies. Drums and electronically augmented vocals dominate the opening verse before seeing the melodic chorus open and change things, where the following verses see more guitars and the song’s heavy, opening riff begins to see more time in the sun. Plus, with all this great music (did I mention the great lead section?), how can someone put down a song that has the line, “and where the fuck is my Superman outfit?!”.
Nearing the end of the album, “Real World” is one of those songs that can only be imagined as a big overbearing anthem for summer time when the band hits the European festivals. The song is subdued and vocally dominated until the exploding chorus that not only benefits from multiple vocal tracks but will demand crowd interaction in a live setting. Lyrically the song is rather deep, at least for a song of this nature, “God is an illusion and there ain’t no paradise…”, so the chorus starts. The album’s closer, “Insurrection” is as one would expect from a Gamma Ray album closer, a big, overbearing epic and while the band will never be able to top a comparable song in their back catalogue, like “Rebellion in Dreamland”, “Insurrection” can definitely stand on its own.
Gamma Ray have never been ones to reinvent the wheel, but with Land of the Free II they have definitely crafted something that will give one of the smoothest, most exciting, and satisfying rides you’ll find in the current power metal scene.
Register to post comments.