Land of the Free
Released: 1995, Noise/Steamhammer Records
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Number Of The Beast or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
Early 1990s. The European and the American power metal movement have already found many worthy representatives enjoying consensus of the world. Mr. Kai Hansen having made great waves in Helloween (you know why) decides to take the plunge, to leave a group that would give him a bright future and create another power metal monster in 1989, Gamma Ray. Joining with him is the promising vocalist Ralf Scheepers and they release HEADING FOR TOMMOROW in 1990, SIGH NO MORE in 1991, and INSANITY AND GENIUS in 1993, showing the first time that it was not just random movements.
The first samples of Kai's work made it clear that he wanted to make a difference and give himself the chance to prove that he was no longer a member of Helloween, a group that later would be the musical backbone not only for many bands but also for the power metal subgenre. Released On May 29, 1995 was the album that would give Mr. Hansen what he requested. LAND OF THE FREE exploded like a bomb into the metal scene. Why? Throughout listening to that album you realize that something new and fresh had come and then run out of the ordinary stuff. The messages are understood from the very first second. "Rebellion In Dreamland" which opens the disc goes over as well as the next "Man On A Mission", sounding like rollers that if you do not avoid them will melt you in their path. "All Of The Damned", "Gods Of Deliverance", "Farewell", "Salvation's Calling", "Land Of The Free", "Abyss Of The Void", "Time To Break Free", "Afterlife" are the remaining whole songs that move in the same pattern except for intros contained on this beautiful piece of work of Hansen and his gang.
After Scheepers’s departure, Kai Hansen stepped up to the microphone reminding and reviving early seasons of Helloween. The triptych power - craftiness - melody was again present and this effort to the maximum extent, as in the past but with a difference: In "Land Of The Free" the riff is brilliant "heeled" so constantly to excite the ear of the listener who does not get tired after not listening ever built on the same tempo. All songs are based on sharp and aggressive guitar riffs which alternate every moment; fast but always with the essential ingredient of melody. The entire album is "built" so that each song stays in your mind. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the album reaches perfection.
In the dictionary next to the entry "European power metal" you will surely find a picture of Hansen and this album as a perfect sample of the genre. Also add that Mr. Hansen has acquaintances who guest appeared on the album. Hansi Kursch, lead singer of Blind Guardian participates in "Farewell", Michael Kiske, former singer of Helloween participates in "Time To Break Free" and Sascha Paeth, a former member of Heaven's Gate and although guitarist plays keyboards here. The guests’ work that is important and certainly not least shows the bonds that exist in the power metal scene.
The vinyl edition will find the fan and the cover of "Heavy Metal Mania" by Holocaust; perhaps the national anthem of heavy metal. Finally it is worth noting that Dirk Schlachter, guitarist on three previous albums previously, from "Land Of The Free" and onwards took over the bass spot.
Following hearing of the album, the word "speechless" is the only one that can represent the feelings born of the songs. Those who have not yet heard this musical masterpiece should immediately rush to the record store or to a friends place (who has superior tastes in metal) to experience the magic that is emitted from this album.
PS: The album song "Afterlife" is dedicated to unjustly passed former drummer of Helloween, Ingo Schwichtenberg. R.I.P Ingo. May the companion piece find you wherever you are ...
The word “classic” makes sense for albums like LAND OF THE FREE!