Gamma Ray
Land of the Free II


3.5
great

Review

by Venpts16 USER (27 Reviews)
April 24th, 2012 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Gamma Ray may not be the most consistent band in the industry, but this is a sequel that certainly deserves the labeling of Land of the Free II.

Sequels: Popular among franchises in video games and films, yet almost unheard of in music. As bands often try out new concepts and ideas to expand on their sound and lyrics, they usually use previous compositions to create new ideas to avoid stagnation. Though sequels have come around in music (Bat out of Hell II and III, Operation: Mindcrime II, Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy), very few of them reach the lofty heights of the original albums that put these bands to fame.

Gamma Ray’s Land of the Free II is another example of an inferior sequel, yet certainly one of the better ones in music. Transitioning back to the mid-90s era of his band, Kai Hansen creates a generally enjoyable listen by creating many delightful songs, though a few unpleasant tracks rear their heads throughout the extent of this sequel. The band, though approaching 20 years of age with this album, still exudes energy from every facet of the album. The riffs are fresh and exactly as you would expect from Gamma Ray, the singing, though isn’t quite as good as on the previous two albums, is still incredible (especially for all the long years Kai has sang), and the backing instruments are as well done as always.

The strongest individual point of the album includes the song “Insurrection;” containing fantastic choruses and riffs that would be able to stand against songs like “Revelation” and “Armageddon” easily. The 11-minute length of “Insurrection” is a welcome sight of a band refusing to resort to playing it safe; creating the longest song the band has ever made since “Heading for Tomorrow.” Though it may be structurally similar to “Rebellion in Dreamland,” the original Land of the Free’s beloved epic, the song provides enough twists and turns to separate itself from “Dreamland’s” rather large shadow.

Other fantastic songs take a more melodic route in Gamma Ray’s long career, combining fast and mid-paced Power Metal with beautifully performed choruses. This album contains many songs that just might have some of the band’s strongest choruses ever composed. “Rain,” “Into the Storm,” and “Hear Me Calling” are just a few instances where Kai vocalizes fantastic melodies in perfect Power Metal fashion. Outside of Kai’s great singing, the band also began experimenting with new ideas. The bass intro on “From the Ashes” is one of the highlights of the album; containing a simple riff with a noticeable “Maiden” influence that only makes the song as a whole more powerful.

Despite these noticeable pluses, this is the first release since 1999’s Power Plant that suffers from stale songwriting. Though the album as a whole has significantly better tracks, (I would personally take an “Empress” over a “Hand of Fate”) the lows on this album are horrendous. “Leaving Hell” is one of the most boring Gamma Ray tracks in a while; with a verse and chorus that do little to impress listeners or stand against many of the songs on this LP. “To Mother Earth” faults because of a downright happy-sounding chorus which only makes the painful lyrics of “she was so beautiful, she was a dream” become downright grating.

It almost goes without saying that the worst moment of this album is “Opportunity,” beating out “Leaving Hell” and “To the Metal” as arguably the worst song Gamma Ray has ever composed. The song is staggeringly bad in all regards; with disjointed song-structure and a painful lack of originality throughout the throbbing seven minute length. The worst point about “Opportunity” is the Iron Maiden plagiarism in the song; the later segments of the song are eerily reminiscent of “The Clairvoyant” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” None of the song is worth listening, and it should be ignored by everyone who listens to Land of the Free II, Gamma Ray, Power Metal, or music as a whole.

But when it all comes down to it, Land of the Free II is a great Gamma Ray album. Though it certainly has its flaws (I will take the opportunity to warn you against the song of the same name again), Gamma Ray releases an album that has a great number of good to excellent songs and is overall a fairly enjoyable listen; especially with “Rain,” “Insurrection,” and “From the Ashes.” The album lives up to the other landmark releases from yesterday with powerful songwriting and performances; especially since it was released the same year that legendary albums by Kai Hansen, Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 1 and Somewhere Out in Space, became 20 and 10 years old respectively. For a band that has been around as long as Gamma Ray (especially with how inconsistent their releases tend to be), this is truly a treat at how they performed this well, and it just makes the anticipation for the next works by Kai all the more exciting.



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user ratings (211)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Mikesn EMERITUS (2)
Gamma Ray shoots for a Land of the Free and scores a (worse) Power Plant. Ouch....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Textures
April 24th 2012


76 Comments


fuck mike

Venpts16
April 24th 2012


283 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My intention with this was to give a more positive review on the album for those who may want to

listen to it. I did not intend to snub the other reviewer if I did, as I enjoy Mike's review for this

as well. I just feel that this album needed a positive review to juxtapose compared to a negative one;

this album is far from perfect or even excellence, but does deserve a few listens.

RunOfTheMill
April 24th 2012


4517 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

"fuck mike"



Hahaha



Great review. I'm a big fan of Gamma Ray, but this album never really did it for me. "Into the Storm" is pretty awesome, but the bad points (especially "Mother Earth", oh God) made this go so downhill, and made me forget about the rest of the album.

Venpts16
April 24th 2012


283 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To Mother Earth's chorus kills the song. I really like the intro and the verse, but the chorus is so painful.



Perhaps try Rain; I really like that one from this album. It is easily one of the best songs on here (along with Insurrection). I would suggest Insurrection, but the 11 minute duration with your already unfavorable opinion of the album will likely not work well together.

Imperial
April 24th 2012


2053 Comments


Ramma Gay.

RunOfTheMill
April 25th 2012


4517 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Like you said, the album has good tracks, but as a whole, it's boring, annoying and the bad overshadows the good. I thik I would like "Insurrection" more if it weren't for Kai's vocals, which sound kinda off key, his falsetto especially... But yeah, "Rain" is great.

RunOfTheMill
April 25th 2012


4517 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

If anything, this album makes me want to listen to Somewhere Out in Space or Majestic, rather than to keep listening.

Venpts16
April 25th 2012


283 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very true point. As good as some of the songs are, it is not a consistent release. To Mother Earth and Leaving Hell are very very bad Gamma Ray songs (songs from To the Metal only match them in quality).



Oh, and Opportunity. Especially Opportunity.

RunOfTheMill
April 25th 2012


4517 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

You keep on saying Opportunity, but truth is I've listened to this album many times in the past (it's

been a while, but still) and I don't remember a thing about that song!



So I'm gonna listen to it right now and tell you how it goes.



Edit: ...

lolwhatdidijustlistento



You weren't kidding about it sounding EXACTLY like Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And oh my God I burst

out laughing when they were yelling the days of the week at the beginning.

Venpts16
April 25th 2012


283 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah its just plain bad. I really can't find much of a way to describe it outside of the mass plagiarism and not trying to take what Mike said in his review.



Really, its just a mess of everything wrong in one blend. Ballad elements, standard Power Metal elements...its very bad.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2012


18960 Comments


Need to check this.

Nice review, have a pos.



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