Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gamma Ray-Majestic, 2005

There was a point last year when I knew that both Gamma Ray and Helloween had albums coming out soon. I firmly expected that one of the two would be the best album of the year, but I was wrong. They weren't bad, in fact both were in my top ten, but neither quite hit the great level I was hoping for. I think that Gamma Ray progressed some over the previous albums and I was expecting more of the same this time around. About 1/3 of the songs are great and the rest is decent to good. I think the band excels at straight ahead fairly fast tracks. However their more mid-tempo songs sound a bit dry or take some time to warm up and get going. It almost comes across like they are more comfortable with the faster tracks and not as much with the others, but they throw them in to have a balance. Maybe it's just that they reached a peak and it's going to be difficult to grow unless they change styles a little or integrate something new into the mix. They are doing some songs very well, but overall they are not doing a whole lot that they have not already done. I think power metal of this sort is tough because it's hard to say where a band can possibly go to expand. Especially for a band like this that have been around for 15 years and a player like Kai Hansen who has been doing this for well over 20 years. I think I was hoping almost every song would be a highlight, but that didn't happen. It's a good album overall, but I find myself reaching for the skip at times both to get to a great song and to get past a song that is merely decent. Maybe they have peaked or maybe they have another great album left in them ready to come out in a year or so.

11 Comments:

Anonymous fred charles said...

Helloween are an example of a band that I used to really like but can not listen to anymore. I tried listening to Keeper of the Seven Keys II not long ago and I couldn't make it through the record.

I probably would have checked out Gamma Ray in the 80s, but their records were too hard to find. I always liked Kai Hansens songs with Helloween.

5:25 AM  
Blogger T-_Bone said...

Mark - This album disappointed me a little too. It was good, but not really great at all.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Rhodeislandrock said...

Power Metal is such a hard genre to enjoy sometimes because it seems as if the bands just keep doing the same thing over and over. The late '90s were a great time for Power Metal to re-emerge and it was innovative. I remember 1997 when Hammerfall were THE band in the scene, they were returning Metal to the glory days. Glory To The Brave (1997) & Legacy Of Kings (1998) are great albums but the follow-ups seem to be a rehash.

Helloween also seem to be rehashing the past.....Keeper III? No thanks! I took one listen and decided to pass, I wish I had done that with Rabbit Don't Come Easy (2003). Better Than Raw (1998) was a good album and I thought 2000's The Dark Ride was superb. Even though it was different, away from typical Helloween-isms, The Dark Ride had a heavier sound with less speed.....more balls.

Gamma Ray peaked with Somewhere Out In Space (1997) and Powerplant(1999). After that, the albums have been spotty, espcially No World Order (2001), which bored me. I have yet to pick up Majestic so I can't comment on it. The reason I haven't bought it is due to my disappointment with No World Order. Add the 4 years between the two albums, and all the other bands releasing new music, Gamma Ray fell of my map.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Fred-I got into Helloween in 87, but actually like the mid to late 90's stuff better.

T-bone-There are some good songs on it, but some just okay ones as well.

Steve-The only hammerfall cd I heard was Renegade and I was disappointed overall. It was like an imitation of material that Helloween and Manowar had done years before.
The last Helloween was about on the same level as GammaRay and it had some great songs and some okay ones as well.
Better than raw is my favorite Helloween album, I think it's great. The dark ride was very good and Rabbit don't come easy was just good.
I got Majestic free, but it's worth a few bucks if you can get a used copy cheap.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous fred charles said...

I was in Tower Records today and decided to thumb through the Helloween section. I surpirsed to see a copy of the infamous "Pink Bubbles Go Ape."

Helloween were kind of big in the states after the release of Keeper II but then they just disappeared. I don't think that Pink Bubbles was released here for years. I've never heard this record but there is a song called "Heavy Metal Hamster" on it...

1:13 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Fred Charles-Helloween committed virtual financial suicide by signing with EMI while they were still under contract to RCA. It kept them from being to release their albums in the early 90's here in the states and some other countries I believe. I didn't buy Pink Bubbles when it was first released because it was only availible as a $20 import. It's not that good anyway, but the next album Chameleon was far worse. After that the band made some line-up changes and were vastly improved.

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