GAMMA RAY - Empire Of The Undead
April 14, 2014, 6 years ago
Rather than open with a quick hitting rip-ride, as the Kai Hansen fronted Germans did on last year’s pre-release Master Of Confusion Ep (that title track appears here as well), the Rayniacs opt for ‘Avalon’, a 9+ minute mid-tempo march that holds hints of old school DIO, plus a wicked guitar solo. Through the early portion of new material, it’s obvious UNISONIC and the Skeletons In The Closet project/tour freed the guitarist/singer/founder’s mind, as few of these would be considered “conventional GAMMA RAY songs, stretching into other areas. A walk on the wild side, ‘Pale Rider’ is a mish-mash of ideas, from the bass rumbling start, to a Sunset Strip strut, repetitive ride cymbal, odd guitar squawk and Kai dropping a MF bomb in the lyrics. ‘Born To Fly’ has a simple, punky urgency that rounds into shape, come the chorus. Don’t worry, the speed metal that characterized Hansen’s predecessor (HELLOWEEN) as well as inspiring his long running solo outfit, is evident elsewhere, namely ‘Hellbent’, as the word intimates, owes a debt to the heaviness of Judas Priest, with a “Hellbent for metal” rallying cry, and despite a short spoken word mid-section, ‘Seven’. Then there’s the pair that fans heard on the aforementioned Ep, situated right in the middle of the running order. ‘Time For Deliverance’ is a piano accompanied, 70s style ballad. Think countrymen SCORPIONS or QUEEN (listen to the guitar tones and multiple voice/gang backing vocals). Herr Hansen briefly strains into the Freddie Mercury stratosphere, while ‘Demonseed’ rides a staccato industrialized stomp. The grand finale, “I’ll Be Back’ (begun with the Austrian Governator delivering his most memorable catch-phrase) sounds suspiciously like a Deris era Weenie number, albeit a fast one. Definitely not a paint-by-numbers album and certainly one to have the faithful talking!