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Gamma Ray - Majestic

Label: Sanctuary Records
Format: CD
Released: 2005
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

How ironic is it that Gamma Ray and Helloween are both releasing new music around the same time in Oct/Nov. Now, that’s alright because ever since Kai Hansen left Helloween he has clearly made it a point to give Gamma Ray its own identity.

Obviously Gamma Ray is going to have the trademark dual guitar harmonies and fast double bass arrangements that Helloween pioneered creating the Euro Power Metal sound in early 1986/87, but Kai’s writing style on songs like “Save Us”, “I Want Out”, “Phantoms of Death”, and “Future World” is something that carried over to Gamma Ray’s style, and that’s the only thing. Songs like the catchy chorus to “How Long” or his riffing style to “Spiritual Dictator” penned by their drummer, and “Strange World” mirror this. Kai’s voice, guitar style, and choice in instrumentations allow Gamma Ray to be and sound different than Helloween. If you are a fan of “Land of the Free” and “Powerplant” this album will more than please you.

With “Majestic”, the Ray’s eighth studio album, main man Kai Hansen on guitar along with long time rhythm section (since 1997’s “Somewhere Out in Space”) consisting of Dan Zimmerman on drums, Henjo Richter on guitar, and Dirk Schlachter on bass as well as producer, have once again delivered another power packed traditional Heavy Metal classic.

Starting things off with the riff driven, rumbling bottom ended “My Temple” followed by “Fight”, with their aggressive yet playful writing style and warm full production, Gamma Ray continues to be creative and vibrant. As always the energy level to the musicianship is very high and at times lightning fast. The opener guitar to “Hell is Thy Home” will surely bring folks to an album called “Walls of Jericho” as it automatically did for me (I actually remember buying that album on LP in 1986).

The title track is my favorite and I think one of Gamma Ray’s crowning achievements in their long history. Reason being it encompasses all aspects to their songwriting abilities, along with both their power and progressive sides. To go with that including appropriate orchestrations that sound so similar to Rainbows classic “Gates of Babylon” it’s an excellent element that also gives the tune a darker, grand and dramatic boost. Love that feel of impending doom to the chorus as well as the changes, and guitar solos.

Gamma Ray at their strongest, cheers!
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