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Empire Of The Undead
Released: 2014, Earmusic
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Kai Hansen’s Rays are about to release their eleventh album named EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD. Gamma Ray is one of the biggest chapters of power metal not only in Europe, but also all over the world. They did their greatest album, LAND OF THE FREE, back in 1995, and unfortunately they got in the war of comparison. Every Ray album since LAND OF THE FREE is compared to that one.
Also, worth saying something about the Dan Zimmermann’s departure after 15 years of serving but Michael Ehre seems to be a great successor (we expect a lot from him as Dan was a good song composer, so let’s see if Ehre would be as good as Dan was).
‘Avalon’ is the opener track for this record and the longest one (9-minute lasting); it’s a song with intent and extent use of keyboards sounding symphonic a little bit. ‘Hellbent’ is a full metal song (everybody catches the Judas Priest-sque feeling on tunes and lyrics). This is a great song and can be a significant part of the live setlist. I don’t know why, this songs brings to my mind some polished moments of POWERPLANT album (1999). I really enjoyed Hansen’s vocals in ‘Pale Rider’, a track with direct Judas Priest and Accept touch and true metal riffs. One complaint about this fad that Gamma Ray follow. I got tired of that. I don’t want to hear any Accept and Judas Priest elements in your music any more. And I don’t forget the Iron Maiden riffs in two previous albums. Sorry guys but that’s the truth! I don’t know if Gamma Ray got bored to write their own lyrics but they intended to copy some of them from Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I do understand Gamma Ray’s influences but not this kind of influence embodiment.
Back to the album again, ‘Born To Fly’, the title track and ‘Seven’ are power and fast songs with a nice neat and pomp guitar interplay reminding us the glorious moments of LAND OF THE FREE. I think that Kai Hansen in ‘Master of Confusion’ got confused. And that’s what I mean; this track is absolutely outtake of ‘I Want Out’. I really enjoyed the six and a half minutes of ‘Demonseed’ which is a real metal track without any influences of Judas Priest, Accept or Iron Maiden on it. That kind of songs made Gamma Ray big, strong and one of the finest metal bands. There is one emotional moment here, ‘Time For Deliverance’, which is a special ballad that KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS II. The closer track ‘I will return’ leaves a nice power metal taste in your ears and promises a lot in the future.
To sum up, EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD is not a bad album but not among their greatest ones. It’s a nice piece of power metal by the mighty and big Gamma Ray. As for the complaints about the influences; this happens if we want the best for the band and especially a band we really love. EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD is indicated for the newcomers and the old fans as well.
3. Pale Rider
4. Born to Fly
5. Master of Confusion
6. Empire of the Undead
7. Time for Deliverance
10. I Will Return
Kai Hansen -Vocasl, Guitar
Henjo Richter - Guitar, Keyboards
Dirk Schlächter – Bass
Michael Ehré - Drums
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