Gamma Ray
Land of the Free II
Style: Power Metal
Release date: November 19th 2007

Kai Hansen has for the past 20 years been of one the best and most influential players in European power metal, from the very early days of power metal in Helloween, with whom he recorded some the most important European power metal albums of all time (Walls of Jericho, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 1 & 2). When they parted ways and Kai went on to found his own powerhouse Gamma Ray he just continued on the same path - delivering one great album after another...

Maybe none more complete and important than 'Land of the Free' from 1995, an album that showed a band at it's peak, they had reached the summit, and even though the albums that followed all were at a very high level, none of them quite managed to bring out the magic feeling that 'Land of the Free' did. Now some twelve years later Kai and his partners in crime have taken it upon themselves to re-capture the magic of that album with 'Land of the Free II'.

And they have done so successfully, rekindling what once were in a modern sounding version of Gamma Ray. This is European power metal like it's suppose to sound like and even though they do use old formulas and do occasionally repeat themselves, this is still thrilling and fun to listen to... Even the brilliant cover artwork by Herve Monjeaud is a trip down memory lane with references to the past.

Pure and honest power metal from the waterfront of Hamburg done with class has always been the name of the game for Kai Hansen, and just like his old compatriots in Helloween he proves that classic European power metal is stronger than ever and still very much alive. In a direct comparison I'd say the new Gamma Ray album is a small step ahead of the opponent, but both bands have strongly underlined the fact that they are still to be counted with.

Kai Hansen has never been the best sounding nor talented vocalist, and even though I do think he is delivering his best performance ever vocally, I do feel at the same time that his limited vocal range is the thing holding the band back the most. The music is varied, powerful and well produced; they have occasionally been listening a bit too much to Iron Maiden, but on the other hand as one so wisely once said: "All the great metal riffs have already been written".

Repetition to a certain degree is fine by me and Gamma Ray manages to keep their balance on the razor sharp edge with just the right amount of old and new input. 'Land of the Free II' should with ease re-establish Gamma Ray as one the leaders in European power metal. Easily the best Gamma Ray album for some time...

Good buy!

01. Into the Storm
02. From the Ashes
03. Rising Again
04. To Mother Earth
05. Rain
06. Leaving Hell
07. Empress
08. When the World
09. Oppertunity
10. Real World
11. Hear Me Calling
12. Insurrection
Label: Steamhammer
Distribution: Target (Denmark)
Reviewed by: Kenn Jensen
Date: October 27th 2007