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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Gamma Ray

To the Metal

Review by Gary Hill

When Kai Hansen left Helloween he formed Gamma Ray. For that reason one would expect the group to sound like Helloween. At times they do. The weird thing is, more of this album sounds like Judas Priest (at times so much like Priest that it’s almost embarrassing) than like Helloween. I’m not saying the whole album is Priest-like, but a lot of it is. In fact, it’s so much so that I checked the credits to make sure none of the guys from Priest were present here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great metal album, but it’s just not very original.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Empathy

This comes in with a mellow motif that calls to mind something from Judas Priest’s Nostradamus album. As we are taken into a metal motif from there it feels more like modern European epic metal, but the vocal presence is still quite Halford-like. This is a soaring tune with a lot of variety and power. It’s one of the highlights of the set.

All You Need To Know
A furious and frantic metal cut this has some of that European epic metal and some Helloween in it (the chorus is especially Helloween-like), but it also contains a lot of Judas Priest (Painkiller era) and Iron Maiden.
Time To Live
Very much of a power metal piece, this one has plenty of Iron Maiden in its arrangement, but overall is the closest thing to Helloween to be found here. There is some killer technical metal at points in this piece and overall it’s one of the most dynamic here. 
To The Metal
While the vocals here are strong – and in keeping with a Rob Halford kind of style, it’s easy to tell it’s not Halford. If it weren’t for that, though, I would bet that it wouldn’t take much to convince someone that this was a long lost unreleased Priest gem from the time of British Steel. There is a technical metal section that takes it a bit away from there, but that’s quite short.
Rise
Although this does cross further into the epic metal style the introduction on the track feels most like Iron Maiden. The verse, though, is very much like modern Judas Priest. 
Mother Angel
Here we’ve got another metal stomper that resembles Judas Priest quite a bit. It’s a great tune and has a killer technical instrumental break mid-track.

Shine Forever
A bass line brings us in. From there they launch out into a frantic metal jam. The vocals that come in are so much like Rob Halford (think “Painkiller”) that it’s scary. The chorus section of the track, though, is trademark Helloween. They put a number of changes and twists into this piece. It’s actually quite a cool one and a highlight of the set. 
Deadlands
Combine the epic metal sound of Helloween with Iron Maiden and you’ll be close the sound of this, but there is also a healthy dosage of Priest here.
Chasing Shadows
Here’s one of the least derivative tracks on show. It’s very much a fast paced epic metal song. While it does reflect a lot of Helloween in its sheen, I don’t count that as imitative because of the connection to this band. 
No Need To Cry
A piano based ballad, this is pretty and the vocals make me think a lot of Halford. As this is built up it becomes obvious that is basically an epic styled power ballad. It’s a good piece, but I’m not sure this is the best position for it. Usually a more rocking number does better closing out an album. The track is another that is quite a bit like Helloween.
 
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