11/30/2005 - Review by: Eric Compton
Gamma Ray - Majestic - 2005 - Sanctuary
After reading a few press tidbits about the record I was a bit in the negative from the get go. A lot of metal scribes have been down on "Majestic" claiming that the band are just spinning their wheels and never really advancing the genre or it's product. After a few spins of this new effort, I would have to completely disagree with those complaints. In all honesty this is probably the finest 'Ray record to date, in my opinion taking both the band and it's power metal genre one step further in advancement of ideas and precision. "Majestic" is absolutely brilliant, at times really leaving me speechless and a little bit surprised at how well Gamma Ray have bounced back after their hiatus.
At work here is obviously an epic, power metal frenzy with tons of lead work, scorching speedy riffs, and Hansen's unbelievable vocal prowess. That has always been the case with the band, always leading instead of following. Along with Blind Guardian and Helloween, Gamma Ray make up a "top three" epic power metal tier, one that has dominated year after year and left many bands clamoring to just keep up with the amount of skill and talent put on display with each and every release. With this new album, Hansen and company are really the proverbial leaders, showing tons of potential and ideas simply by going back and revamping the sound that brought them this far. From the excellent storytelling to the tight, polished production, the group lay claim to the award of best power metal band out there right now. They have done it through their obvious strengths; songwriting, epic structuring, fantastic vocals, and speedy riffing.
Just look at a regular power staple like "Majesty", a clear cut winner that builds with speed and bravado, exploding into an epic chorus while still relaying that speed metal attitude, that "bang your head and not give a damn" attitude made famous by thrashy acts like Megadeth. The band really stir some darker emotions as well, creating a creepy crawly sense of mood with the fantastic "Blood Religion", a cut beaming with a black sense of wonder, spilling into huge group chants and a crunchy delivery. "Strange World" delivers a bombastic hard rock approach, with one of the best riffs I've heard from the band in ages. Fans of the "Land Of The Free" era will find plenty to like here as well, with strong choices like "Fight" and "Condemned To Hell" filling in nicely with that rich, symphonic tapestry.
Again, this is the band's best work to date and a commanding presence for all other contenders to strive for. Kai Hansen and the boys are back and better than ever! "Majestic" is one of the best records of the year and a stirring return to the metal forefront.
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