Gamma Ray - Majestic
Gamma Ray has really taken a big turn in their musical direction with this new album. The double bass drums are almost gone altogether and the songs lean toward a more AOR sound this time. A nice touch is that they have brought in accordian, pan flute and hammond organ as well as a female vocalist that counteract with Kai Hansen during the verses. There is an almost a melancholic, ambient and dreaming atmosphere over the songs which are mainly acoustic and in E-major.
If you for one second were ready to believe what I just wrote, you are either very new to the metal scene or gullible beyond comprehension. There is no chance in hell that mastermind Hansen will or would change the winning concept he has managed to conquer the metal scene with the past 20 years. This continues in the same track as where he left us with the last album No World Order (2001). Uptempo, much work with bridges and choruses and delicious riffing. I would say a bit more of everything than on the past albums.
It opens with My Temple which sets the mark for the album with a brilliant riff, a good flow and a refrain that sticks. It is classic Gamma Ray from the first second and can not be mistaken for anything else. Fight takes us one level higher both melodic-wise as well as in intensity. Great guitar lead, great chorus and Gamma Ray does not get much better than this. Strange World is the first one out of two more rockier tunes, and works way better than those use to do. Starts like classic heavy metal and builds up to a nice groove and a catchy bridge which bare traces of their first two albums and which is actually better than the following refrain. The fourth outing I presume guess will once again stir some talking about Gamma Ray borrowing riffs and approaches by other bands and then especially Judas Priest.
Hell Is Thy Home starts up in a way that immediatly makes my mind wonder towards the classic album Painkiller by the priests. Leather Rebel, anyone? It's almost exactly the same initial riff. Intense, pumping and the verse incredibly enough continues in Leather Rebel style at least in the first part for about 65 seconds. With a few beers more than what the doctor recommend, it could be the same song. It builds up to a nice uptempo refrain, and it's a nevertheless a damn good song.
Blood Religion follows once again in the semi uptempo path, and if not as strong chorus-wise as the previous song, it holds good guitar work and is epic enough to stand out. It shifts from being a bit rock'n'roll-ish to standard Gamma Ray fast pace. Condemned To Hell slows it down and contains an average riff and verse which does not really speak to me, but it speeds up during the chorus and is really nice during that part. Spiritual Dictator starts uptempo and melodic, turns heavy and semi-uptempo to escalate into a classic, melodic Gamma Ray refrain free from choirs for almost the first time since the album started. No fan will be disappointed, and especially not fans of No World Order. So far into the album the tempo has, even though not exceptionally high, been higher than usual and in a very good flow.
The title track Majesty is slower and more epic, and really does not get going at any point. Nothing sticks out, and this has to be considered one of their more more anonymous songs in quite a while, despite some parts with heavy and good riffs and an ominous Black Sabbath refrain. How Long is more straight forward heavy metal which sound a bit Land Of The Free in the verse and the a bit cheesy refrain fits perfectly. The song grows in intensity along the way and this a good one. The closing Revelation is the song you would expect Majesty to be. The one is epic and with many nuances. Their whole spectra is represented here, with a lot of mighty choirs as well as fast, pure metal parts with a lot of great solos and leads. A little more melody in the chorus could be wished for, though, otherwise a very solid song and it leaves you very, very satisfied after this sitting with a plate of another to-be-classic in the german metal scene.
I would say that the songs are a bit more varied and complex (but without being difficult) than on the past two albums. Not so simple, and they have apperantly been worked on a lot to be as good as they possible can be at this point of their careeer.
Nothing new and groundbreaking this time but it is very well executed by the germans. I would really not have expected nothing else either, and to be honest not even wanted it. This is classic Gamma Ray, perhaps a bit back to the Somewhere Out In Space and even Land Of The Free albums with the epicness and sound of the past two albums intact. There is a lot of work with epic and powerful choirs this time as always and it sounds fresh and vital and I can spot a geniune hunger for metal again in the songs. The metal crown sits pretty safe and steady on the Ray's heads. Trust your favourite reviewer and buy this one unheard.