Gamma Ray
Empire of the Undead

Gamma Ray have been pumping out quality Power Metal for almost twenty years with a workman-like attitude that only Germany could produce. So at this point in their career they don’t have much, if anything to prove, and Empire of the Undead is the perfect album to show that fact. Gamma Ray wasted no time putting together a hooky, bombastic album that is sure to go over gangbusters on the festival circuit with it’s abundance of flag waving inducing metal goodness.

I could just use every clichéd description known to the English language for this review and then just fluff it out with song titles and shit, but that would be a cop out that would diminish the impact of the album and I’m not out to do that, so I have to be as objective as possible with this and not just dissolve into obvious fandom with this.

Unlike fellow Power Metallers Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray go for a less symphonic take on the genre and just go for the collective throat. So with the follow up to 2010’s To the Metal! Gamma Ray have stuck with the formula that has gotten them this far: write badass music that makes you feel alive and happy to be a Metalhead.

So yeah, there are songs on here, ten of them to be exact, and while not all of them are complete barn burners, they each breath with their own vitality. “Avalon” starts the album with an ambitious nine minutes that is both savage and beautiful at the same time, while “Hellbent” is just a tribute to Metal, this is a track that has a great sing-a-long potential. “Master of Confusion” reminds me so much of Helloween (particularly that opening riff that sounds so much like “I Want Out” that it made me want to listen to that song). The one thing that I have never liked about Power Metal though, is the ballads. So yeah, there is a ballad here, “Time for Deliverance” isn’t a bad song, but it follows the absolutely crushing title track and just takes away from that. The remaining three tracks, “Demonseed”, “Seven” and “I Will Return” pretty much keep to a mid-paced tempo with the exception being “I Will Return” which starts off with a Terminator sample before kicking into overdrive and becoming one of the best album closers.

The spot on production allows each instrument it’s own space, and Kai Hansen has never sounded better. Honestly though, this album couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve always felt that Spring is the perfect season for Power Metal and this album just cements that idea for me. Empire of the Undead is the perfect background music to your backyard Bar-B-Que, pool party or high speed chase. Check it out for sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jeremy Beck
May 8th, 2014

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