You left to be set free
But I believe we'll meet again
And together we will stay"
One Word Review: Vigorous
If you're searching for the ultimate power metal album, then Gamma Ray's Land of the free is a necessary stop on that quest. It is my favorite Gamma Ray album without a doubt. High speed, heavy riffs and soaring vocals all unite and bring a real sense of raw power to the whole album.
Vocalist for four albums, Ralph Scheepers (Primal Fear) had left the band and leader Kai Hansen (founder of Helloween) took over the vocal job for this fifth effort. Since his days as lead singer of Helloween he has grown considerably. To say he does a fine job would be a huge understatement. It becomes immediately apparent that his voice is raw and potent as the brilliant opener Rebellion in Dreamland has him using pretty much his whole range. His voice gives the album a vigorous feel.
At 8:44 Rebellion in Dreamland may not seem like an obvious opener. It does however serve as an absolutely fantastic introduction to the album. Varied and filled with superb passages it is over before you know it and stands as one of many highlights on a record that doesn't hold back in any way.
Proving this in a most exciting way, Man on a Mission blasts of at light-speed, slowing down for no-one but a short delightfully Helloween'ish passage halfway through. Quickly, a fast but melodic guitar solo amps up the power again. Allright!
A definite highlight.
Even more frenzied is the short interlude Fairytale, which puts a fitting conclusion to the first part of the album.
All of the damned was a favorite for a long time. The song has the most perfect opening. Calmness before the storm as a soft bass line leads the way to a mean riff, a wild guitar solo and a suitably bombastic finish... and that is just the first minute. The rest of the song keeps it together with a strong drive and an infectious chorus. The main melody is re-visited in the symphonic piece, Rising of the damned which brings a deeper atmosphere to the album.
Gods of deliverance is another fast and powerful attack on the senses. If the short opening drum solo doesn't get your adrenaline pumping just a bit then the verse sections, where the superb guitar work combined with Kai's expressive voice works extremely well, will.
After this "rather powerful" first half Farewell is a welcome breather. The main melody is wonderful and the piano provides a special warmth. Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) has a great spot in this song too. A symphonic power ballad of the absolute best kind.
Salvation's Calling ups the ante again, being one of the most aggressive songs featured. Kai's singing is empowered with wildness and fury, reminding of his time at the forefront of Helloween. A simple but belligerent song.
Land of the Free (the song) is yet another highlight. Superbly put together, with the bridge part that builds up to the chorus being one of the best passages of the entire album, the song simply rules big time as melody and power unite in a most excellent way.
Abyss of the void catches the ear with a bombastic rhythm section and interweaved with the atmospheric passages it makes for a pretty good song.
Time to break free falls a little outside the rest of the album. It doesn't have the same dark atmosphere, maybe due to Michael Kiske (former Helloween) taking over the vocals. Still, a good song.
Afterlife ends the album on an atmospheric and almost, but not quite, serene note. The song was written in memory of former Helloween drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, who had tragically committed suicide in March that year.
Several songs share the theme of fighting oppression and the album can be seen as a concept album of sorts, but that is really for the listener to figure out.
The guitar work throughout the record is brilliant and adds immensely to the overall impression. Dirk Schlächter and Kai Hansen is a perfect team and have something going on constantly. Jan Rubach on bass is left ample room in the sound to stand out as well.
Land of the Free is one of the finest Power Metal albums you will find anywhere in this galaxy. Melody and aggression form the perfect marriage. So, if you don't have it in your collection already I'd recommend you seek it out.
Written By Steen
Online: Saturday, October 25, 2014
Rebellion In Dreamland
Man On A Mission
All Of The Damned