When Gamma Ray released No World Order in 2001, they started to fuse their own variation of power metal with the classic metal style played by metal juggernauts such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The sound they opted for met some mixed reactions from fans, but many agreed that the album was excellent, if a tad unoriginal. After releasing No World Order they went on tour, eventually coming out with their second live album, Skeletons in the Closet, but for whatever reason, the band had a lot of difficulty putting the album together, and the process lasted longer than it should have. Skeletons in the Closet was released in 2003, and after another year of touring, the band finally announced its eighth studio album, Majestic
, which was to be released in October of 2005.
The music found on Majestic draws comparisons to No World Order. Again, the band fused power metal with classic metal and, again, the result is an excellent platter of metal. With Majestic, Gamma Ray put a lot of emphasis in melody and heaviness, and they don't waste any time getting started. The opening track, My Temple
, is an excellent example of what you'll hear on the album. As you would expect from Kai Hansen and crew, the album's riffs and choruses are extremely catchy. No two riffs sound the same on Majestic and the album remains fresh for over 55 minutes. Majestic's production is top notch, making the riffs crisp and easy flowing. Some of Majestic's most impressive moments come from the riffs that make up each of the songs.
There are many factors that make up the success of Majestic. One of them is the band's performance. Each member performs to the very best of his ability throughout the entire album and rarely, if ever disappoints. Kai Hansen, the bands vocalist since Ralf Scheepers (now of Primal Fear fame) left before 1995’s Land of the Free, has a very strong showing on Majestic. Kai is a very talented vocalist who helps make the songs more enjoyable with his unique voice. Gamma Ray's singer is solid at all times throughout the album, with excellent showings on Revelation
. Kai Hansen, along with Henjo Richter, makes up Gamma Ray's twin guitar attack. Each of them trade off appropriately placed solos throughout the album. Their skill as guitarists is well represented by Majestic's catchy leads and power metal anthems. Gamma Ray's heartbeat, Dirk Schlachter and Dan Zimmermann, provide the powerful support needed to back up the guitarists. Dirk's relentless bass is not overtaken by the guitars, but inside sticks out and holds up the song. Dan's drumming is excellent. His energetic drumming does not just keep the rhythm up, but also adds a thunderous presence to each of the songs.
Unlike Gamma Ray's previous albums, Majestic is more of a grower. When I first bought Majestic I wasn't really impressed with what I heard. But after repeated listens the album's true colours were shown. Save for maybe the album's opener, My Temple
, Majestic has no overwhelmingly powerful standout tracks (i.e. Rebellion in Dreamland, Somewhere Out in Space, or Armageddon), but what's found on this album is still superb. Songs such as Strange World
, Hell is Thy Home
, and Blood Religion
are great examples what the band is capable of. Everything a power metal fan could ask for can be heard on Majestic with the exception of a ballad. I've grown fond of Gamma Ray's ballads and I feel one of the weaker songs, How Long
specifically, could have been ditched to make room.
It took the band four years, but Gamma Ray has finally released Majestic. The album's catchiness and keen sense of melody will be stuck in your mind for days. Majestic's crushing riffs stand out as some of the band's best in their discography and are very enjoyable. Majestic definitely deserves more attention than it's gotten, as it was one of the best power metal albums of 2005 and deserves a place in your music collection.
Condemned to Hell