HANSEN & FRIENDS - XXX - Three Decades In Metal

October 26, 2016, 10 months ago

(earMUSIC)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 7.0

review heavy metal kai hansen hansen & friends

HANSEN & FRIENDS - XXX - Three Decades In Metal

Gamma Ray founder/guitarist issues a true solo album, complete with lots of help, from pals old (Michael Kiske, Ralph Scheepers) and new (Dee Snider, Blind Guardian's Hansi Kursch and Edguy/Avanatasia's Tobias Sammet, amongst others). Ten selections, with an assortment of singers, often more than one on the same song, males and females. What does it sound like? Well, the best moments are heavy power metal tracks, none too distant from the Rayniacs. Then there's the mid-tempo Unisonic style (an outfit in-which Hansen also plays) and then a few oddballs. Revved up, Judas Priest inspired opener “Born Free” is the first single/video and the lone proper album track with Kai as solo voice. Until it kicks into high gear (about half way through) the tepid “Enemies Of Fun” is somewhat surprising, considering it features former Gamma Ray (current Primal Fear) frontman Ralf Scheepers, and longtime Hansen friend, Piet Sielck (guitar/voice in Iron Savior). It's not as bad as the Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) contribution, a punky throwaway tale of the music business called “Contract Song”. 

By contrast, “Stranger In Time”, which sees him reuniting with Michael Kiske, his guitar replacement in Helloween, aka Roland Grapow, and Edguy/Avantasia singer Tobias Sammet, is a galloping winner. Only the Kursch cooperated “Follow The Sun”, competes with it for top dog. Power ballad “Fire And Ice” contains the first of three consecutive Clementine Delauney (ex-Serenity/current Vision Of Atlantis) vocals. Gritty (snippets of growls) and heavier at the end, it's still lightweight overall. “Left Behind” recalls Smashing Pumpkins, when not experimenting (briefly) once again with male death voices. On the poppy, orchestral backed “All Or Nothing”, which wanders into Evergrey territory, she's the sole collaborator. A stop-gap, the best moments are worth investigating, but doubtful I'll be listening to them, once the next Gamma Ray album is released.

The Japanese version contains a second disc, solely with Hansen on vocals, as well as a pair of karaoke tracks (where the main vocals have been removed).

Featured Audio

ACCEPT - "The Rise Of Chaos" (Nuclear Blast)

ACCEPT - "The Rise Of Chaos" (Nuclear Blast)

Featured Video

CENTURIES OF DECAY - "Wings Of Death"

CENTURIES OF DECAY - "Wings Of Death"

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