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Review: Gamma Ray - Skeletons In The Closet
Gamma Ray
Skeletons In The Closet

Label: Noise Records
Year released: 2004
Duration: 103:13
Tracks: 19
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: March 11, 2004
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Skeletons In The Closet

Rated 4.76/5 (95.29%) (17 Votes)

This is the second live album in Gamma Ray's career, nearly nine years after the first one and I must say it was well worth the wait. For this tour, Gamma Ray had fans vote for which songs they'd like to hear live - the idea being to play songs that the band doesn't usually play live.

I'm usually not too crazy about live albums. Not that I don't like live albums, but very few are worth it (and some are complete disasters - In Flames come to mind...) "Skeletons In The Closet" however is an absolute joy to listen to; I sure didn't expect the band to sound this good and for the crowd to be so into it. Halfway through the first disc, I was already regretting having missed them when they came to Canada not so long ago...

The ingredients for a good live album are all here: Good sound but not too good (this is a live recording, after all), an extremely enthusiastic and participating crowd, a good rendition of the set list (let's face it, some bands can't pull it off live), and also very important is the frontman doing what's necessary to get the crowd going - not that they seemed to be needing much help in the first place - looks like Barcelona and Strasbourg have some crazy crowds. :) The songs are played quite faithfully but some were "altered" to fit the live setting a little bit - for example stalling on a redundant beat to get the crowd to chant (during Heavy Metal Universe), or changing the vocal intonations a little to give more punch. Gamma Ray did this with taste, without overdoing it, and the result is simply great, period. Despite the songs being "non-regulars" as far as live Gamma Ray goes, the set list is quite interesting and catchy as hell, and there's not one dull moment on the whole album - well, except maybe for one, but that'll depend on the individual's taste: The first disc ends with a drum solo. I'm not too crazy about those myself (I can live with a Mikkey Dee solo), sometimes they're good if you're physically there, but on disc I find them more annoying than not. However, judging by the crowd's reaction, it seems like that one went really well with the attendees. :) The second disc ends on a short track that is in fact a recording of the band backstage right after the show - definitely not essential, but funny in its own way.

The album comes with a very well-garnished booklet with an introduction written by Kai Hansen and tons of live pictures of the band.

This is definitely one of my favourite live albums, joining such gems as "Live After Death" and "Alive in Athens". Not only does it showcase Gamma Ray as a great live band, but it makes you feel like you were there (I had to struggle to stop myself from singing along for at least half the album - especially when listening to it at the office :)). That's what this is all about. I can't recommend this one enough. Buy or die!

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