Gamma Ray
To the Metal


1.5
very poor

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
January 28th, 2010 | 62 replies | 22,551 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Just when you thought Gamma Ray couldn't fare any worse...

Admittedly, I approached To the Metal with some apprehension. Although Gamma Ray has always rebounded from weaker albums (from Insanity and Genius to Land of the Free and Power Plant to No World Order), they've never released an album as mind-numbingly pedestrian as Land of the Free II either. Factor in early album press which promised "a full throttle number…a rhythmic and melodically diverse song… and a multi-layered anthem" among other things and you essentially have the makings of the most generic sounding Gamma Ray album since, well, the last one. If that wasn't enough, live recordings of the title track sounded like a really bad mash-up of Judas Priest's "Metal Gods" and a Manowar song. It's a sad reflection of the Gamma Ray's creative state when they have to resort to plagiarizing mediocre '80s metal.

Fortunately, the remainder of To the Metal doesn't rip off older hits as unabashedly as the title track, but there's little to get excited about. The melodic riff structure of "Deadlands" harkens back to No World Order's "Eagle", and thanks to the song's brief electronic intro, the band has one of their most original compositions in years. Yet in terms of quality, the track pales in comparison to much of Gamma Ray's back catalogue and would be a mere footnote on Somewhere Out in Space, or even Majestic. The record's token ballad, "No Need to Cry", is notable in that it tries to experiment with the usual Gamma Ray formula. As nice as it is to see the band try to branch out, trying to piece together bits of a piano ballad, Queen, and some power ballad better left in the '80s simply sounds messy and incoherent.

In essence, To the Metal can best be described in the band's own words. You'll recall that Kai Hanson and co. claimed the record would feature "a full throttle number…a rhythmic and melodically diverse song… and a multi-layered anthem", and, unlike those that make all sorts of hyperbolic promises they can't keep, Gamma Ray delivers. In this case it isn't particularly a good thing; although throttling melodically layered anthems make up the majority of To the Metal, the execution is so mechanical and formulaic that it lacks any of the edge it was probably intended to have. Simply put, what hurts the record isn't its unoriginality. No World Order wasn't particularly new, but it was excellent all the same. To the Metal merely sounds fast, heavy, and melodic (or whatever power metal fans want these days) because that is what power metal is supposed to sound like. Kai Hanson even sounds bored when he sings in "Rise" (the aforementioned "full throttle number").

Maybe I'm being too hard on Gamma Ray. After all, at least they only plagiarized one song this time around. Then again, on Land of the Free II they only lifted short riffs (and sometimes lyrics) from Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs, rather than entire compositions. Either way, it underscores To the Metal's biggest problem; Gamma Ray lacks a fire, and it's extremely obvious. Oh sure, To the Metal features everything the ultraconservative power metal fan could ask for, including a Michael Kiske appearance in "All You Need to Know". Problem is, everything sounds so uninspired that any potential strengths (i.e. a couple decent riffs here and there) are rendered ineffective and bland. I suppose the end result is fairly predictable; Gamma Ray has been slowly declining since Majestic. But considering that this is the same band that released the premier power metal album in Land of the Free, the decline is both concerning and disappointing.



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user ratings (143)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Alex Newton (2.5)
To the Metal finds Gamma Ray on autopilot, but least Kai consolidated his "influences" into one song...


Comments:Add a Comment 
ninjuice
January 28th 2010



6759 Comments


they've never released an album as mind-numbingly pedestrian as Land of the Free II II either.


Digging: Robin Skouteris - The King of ArtPOP

Willie
Moderator
January 28th 2010



15875 Comments


I can't deal with Kai's vocals or I'd probably give this band more of a shot. I did like the first three albums, though. Great review, of course.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Nagrarok
January 28th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I knew this had to be you Mike. Good to see you still reviewing metal, looking at your massively decreases ratings of your older reviews (compared to the rating of the review itself), I believed you might have grown out of it. I've only heard Land of the Free by Gamma Ray, and that's where I'll stick by.

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn that scores low!
I love gamma ray and this album started out a little rough for me but it has started to grow and currently (havnt had enough time to really rate it it) I'd give it a 3.5
but 1.5?! geez!

Nagrarok
January 28th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Maybe I'll listen to this just to have a good laugh.

BigHans
January 28th 2010



26455 Comments


To their credit the song 'Rebellion in Dreamland" seriously rules.

Nagrarok
January 28th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It does. Land of the Free is actually pretty damn good, as power metal goes.

HAVE NO FEAR! REBELLION IS HERE!

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so do 90% of their songs....as long as you love muenster, cheddar and swiss

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is an opinion to perhaps help people deciding to get this album...
to the metal is for power metal fans only...and pretty hardcore ones at that
a few people have referenced land of the free, here and believe it is an album that most fans of metal can enjoy..its balanced...but recenty gamma ray has moved towards an extreme: cheesy, awesome, epic power metal that makes you feel great!
and once again...1.5?! why would you review an album in which its genre you dont even like ?(being a fan of 2 power metal albums doesnt make you a fan of power metal)
also...adding kiske to the vocals on any power metal album makes it better, regardless if its been done before or not

TheSpirit
January 28th 2010



17128 Comments


Because you don't need to be a fan of a genre to review certain things

Digging: Monarch - Sabbracadaver

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...i personally wouldnt...but i guess thats true

Nagrarok
January 28th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

why would you review an album in which its genre you dont even like ?(being a fan of 2 power metal albums doesnt make you a fan of power metal)


http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=7745
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Is that enough proof for ya?

TRMshadow
January 28th 2010



4982 Comments


Good review, you even said you may be being too hard on them, if that isn't humility I don't know what is.

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sorry! didnt mean to fanboy it up! haha!

TRMshadow
January 28th 2010



4982 Comments


Nah, it's fine, we're all cool

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh and i gotta say this is one of my favorite album covers...a lot of hidden little illustrations...if you can find a high res image

FadeToBlack
January 28th 2010



10913 Comments


didn't know they had a new album out, might check this out

XulOnerom
January 28th 2010



1818 Comments


This band sucks ass

Good review

Jayxsnoogans
January 28th 2010



72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

but you like helloween?
deeerrrrp


XulOnerom
January 28th 2010



1818 Comments


Son, don't talk back to your elders



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