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Review: Gamma Ray - Land of the Free
Gamma Ray
Land of the Free

Label: Noise Records
Year released: 1995
Duration: 56:43
Tracks: 13
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: June 26, 2009
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Land of the Free

Rated 4.37/5 (87.42%) (62 Votes)

It's easy to see (or hear) why Gamma Ray are one of the most popular and successful Power Metal bands in existence. Main man Kai Hansen practically invented the genre back in the 80s with Helloween and the awesome Walls of Jericho album. After apparently disagreeing with the musical direction Helloween was taking, he left to form Gamma Ray and continued to create music in the Keepers style. Initially, Gamma Ray was fronted by vocalist Ralf Scheepers (because Hansen had trouble singing and playing guitar live, if you believe what you read on the Internet). This was disappointing, as I'd always enjoyed Hansen's vocals and had hoped that he would go back to singing once he'd left the Michael Kiske-fronted Helloween.

Why the history lesson? Well, with their fourth album Gamma Ray's Kai Hansen ditched Scheepers and stepped back in front of the microphone. And what an outstanding return. Land of the Free is everything you would want or expect from a pure Power Metal album. It opens with the 8:45 "Rebellion in Dreamland," an unusual first track for a Power Metal release in that it is more of a mid-tempo riff-fest. Most Power Metal albums open with a hyper-speed assault, but "Rebellion" is simply awesome, nonetheless. Huge riffs and great lyrics surround blazing leads. The rest of "Land of the Free" maintains the high standard set by the opener. Tracks like "Man on a Mission," "All of the Damned" and "Gods of Deliverance" nearly break the speed of sound with furious drumming and riffing while the solos bring a smile to your face. Even the uber-sappy ballad, "Farewell" is saved from the trash heap by a killer performance from Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch. Another former Helloween singer, the aforementioned Michael Kiske, lends his vocal talents to "Time to Break Free," easily one of the top five happiest Power Metal songs ever.

Land of the Free didn't resonate with me right away. It took multiple listens to fully appreciate, but it was time well spent. Metal fans of all stripes could do a lot worse than picking up Land of the Free as this how Power Metal is done, period.

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