I bought the debut Gaia Epicus album, the oddly named SATRAP, way back when and while very competent, it never truly stood out to me. With the hundreds of high quality Power Metal albums released every single year, it’s hard to keep up and unfortunately I have not heard another Gaia Epicus album since. The band has been busy and has churned out four more albums in the intervening decade. Perhaps the fact they have remained at almost an independent level (on their own label, Epicus Records, has not helped their global exposure among fans. The fact that Gaia Epicus is essentially a one-man band, the brainchild of Thomas Hansen, probably doesn’t help either. Constantly rotating line-up and project style bands can be confusing to less dedicated fans and I’m not surprised that this is the first review of a Gaia Epicus album on Metal-Rules.com. I can assure you the quality of the new album DARK SECRET is good enough to be on any big label Metal label and Hansen has more than enough song-writing talent to carry the load.
The opening track of the dozen track, 50 minute long album jumps right into a driving double-kick propelled tune called ‘Beyond The Universe’ would fit nicely on a Gamma Ray or (old) Scanner album. Up next, completing the one-two punch of fast songs is ‘Hellfire’ with an intense pace and great central riff. The band wears it’s classic Helloween/Gamma Ray influence on it’s collective sleeve but those are awesome bands to be inspired by, so the overt influence does not bother me. It is not overt mimicry by any means as I feel Hansen has developed his own style since the debut and I want to go back and seek out the intervening three albums, SYMPHONY OF GLORY (2005), VICTORY (2007) and damnation (2009).
Hansen’s vocals might be a bit of an acquired taste, but I enjoy them. He has a mid-range voice with some good power and while he would not be considered among the elite Power Metal singers, he is competent. His hired guns are mostly lesser-known local musicians from Norway. Some other nice features of the album are the stunning artwork by JP Fournier who has done most of the bands album covers over the years and a great production, crisp and clear. Tommy Hansen (a different guy, the more well-known Tommy Hansen) mixes the self-produced album. Other musical highlights are the more rock and roll inspired ‘Lost Forever’ with a catchy chorus. Track six is really fun, an ripping instrumental called ‘Ode To The Past’ that integrates classic music components, including, a very familiar riff. I’ll forever associate this musical sequence with Jack Black and the movie THE PICK OF DESTINY, from the scene on the beach where Jack Black meets Kyle Goss for the first time, when Kyle is busking and playing the riff on the acoustic guitar! It’s instantly recognizable as one of the more famous classic musical pieces of all time, and in ‘Ode To The Past’ it starts acoustic and then goes electric with some ripping solos.
It’s never too late to re-discover (or discover for the first time) a great band like Gaia Epicus and DARK SECRETS will go a long way into expanding the bands fanbase.
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