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Additional lead vocals by Michael Kiske and Dirk Schlächter.
Gamma Ray's new DVD release, filmed at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, takes us back to their Skeletons' days with songs never or rarely played live before. Sets like these always feel fresh and especially with this band, who's stuck playing same songs over and over again in recent years. This DVD also marks the end of an era with the departure of long-time drummer Daniel Zimmermann earlier this year. A new album is in the works, with his replacement Michael Ehré, and is planned for release in spring 2013.
Skeletons & Majesties Live is definitely not recorded to show massive special effects with pyros, lightshows etc.. The only props worth mentioning is some occasional smoke and the Gamma Ray logo in some kind of neon blue, which actually is barely visible, when thinking of it. The sound quality is great with both guitars high in the mix and I love those twin guitar solos. Although I might not be the owner of the latest and most expensive equipment in my living room, I have a feeling that this DVD is a product of major mixing. Most parts are flawless and I guess it's just a matter of taste.
This is a DVD for the fans. Just like bandleader Kai Hansen says to his audience during the set, "It doesn't have to be perfect". Guest vocalist and fellow bandmember in Unisonic, Michael Kiske, has a lyrics sheet on stage, he and Hansen perform a rather improvised version of A While In Dreamland, where Kiske have a hard time catching up with Mr. Hansen for his lines and bassplayer Dirk Schlächter has got the flu and looks rather beaten and torn.
Guitarist Henjo Richter plays in his usual relaxed manner, while Hansen is more vigorous and also sings better than ever. A perfect combination, I must say, as those two gentlemen complete each other, musically and on stage that is, as I don't know much of their personal activities and private lives. Schlächter, due to his illness and much unlike him, stands like a statue cemented to the floor most of the set, like Ian Hill of Judas Priest, and Zimmermann as usual looks pained throughout most of the set. We don't see much of touring keyboardplayer, Corvin Bahn, but even if we had, what to say about a man standing behind the keys?
The bonus disc's live songs are filmed at Zeche in Bochum, Germany and I get a bit bored when watching that part. Much due to the fact that five of these six songs also appear on disc 1. The Interview - Behind the scenes part shows a couple of short interviews, occasionally with bad lip-synching, with members of the band and their crew. Some interesting stuff, but nothing really special. The third and last section contains poor quality material from the early days of Gamma Ray and is also more interesting than good.