1.Into the Storm 3:49
2.From the Ashes 5:26
3.Rising Again 0:27
4.To Mother Earth 5:11
6.Leaving Hell 4:20
8.When the World 5:44
10.The Real World 5:42
11.Hear Me Calling 4:14
I figured I should definately take the time to review this, as I've seen a great amount of interest in it on the board, so enjoy.
I'm not sure how everyone else feels, but I found Majestic to be a bit of a let down by Gamma Ray's standards and not up to the superb quality of their albums from Land of the Free through No World Order. However, this review is not about Majestic.
The first thing I noticed about this album is that it's undoubtedly a fine return to their classic form, as noticeable on many tracks such as From the Ashes, To Mother Earth, and When the World. The thing that surprised myself as well as most I've talked to is that this album actually does sound reminiscent of it's namesake, unlike what I expected: the lyrical themes of LOTF with the music of an album like Majestic. I was pleasantly surprised.
I must say, I like Into the Storm but I found the guitar work on it to be fairly dissapointing. No bombastic harmonies, no surprisingly good riffs, and the chorus isn't all that strong, but nevertheless it is indeed a solid track and a fine opener. As I mentioned, From the Ashes is very much in an older style, reminscent of songs like Man on a Mission. The interlude Rising Again is good, but pretty silly that it's seperated from it's following track, To Mother Earth, as it very easily just could've been coupled together. To Mother Earth is also a fine song, though the chorus lyric/melody made me chuckle: "She was sooo beautiful!". After that we enter what I feel is the hit or miss section of the album. "Rain" is good, but just seems like it's missing something, and the psuedo harsh vocals on the one section don't really aide my opinion on it. This track is certainly made up for with it's follower, "Leaving Hell", again a very fun song with a great and catchy chorus. "Empress" is again I feel a bit of a weak song, mainly because of the chorus, which doesn't really grab me and just sounds kind of silly. Around this point I started to lose faith in the album on my first listen, but that was about to change.
We now move onto the track "When the World", which I feel is one of the best tracks on here. The chorus to this song is very strong, it had me singing along on just the second listen, and the solos are fucking excellent. I'm not sure which solo is Kai and which is Henjo, but my hats off to both of them for these. Next up is probably the surprise of the album, "Opportunity", written by Dirk Schlachter, is the second longest and possibly second best song on the album, featuring many different changes and styles represented throughout. You'll notice a familar bass riff about half way through the song though, because it's almost verbatim Maiden's Clairvoyant bass riff. However, they take it somewhere a bit different, so I can forgive.
Speaking of ripping things off, next we have Kai's album essential, his rewritten version of I Want Out. "The Real World" is a fine song, but at time the I Want Out-isms are nearly humorous, especially the lead into the solo. However, when you've written one of the best and most original power metal songs ever written, I think I can forgive you for ripping it off... this is nothing new, need I mention "Heaven or Hell" or "Send Me a Sign". "Hear Me Calling" is another strong track, but lacks the identity of it's predecessors. It generally gets overlooked as for me, at this point I'm just waiting for the final track, "Insurrection". I figured at the 11 and a half minute time, this would either be a massive sucess or a redundant failure, and I'm very happy to say it succeeded big time. I think this may be one of the strongest tracks Gamma Ray have done to date, and any fan will be happy to hear the musical references to the classic Rebellion in Dreamland from time to time. The 11 minutes seems like nothing, as I find myself wishing that helluva chorus to continue. This song alone makes up for any of the dissapointments of the couple filler-esque tracks.
So, in summary, I am very very happy with this album, and pleasantly surprised to see a return to form in both style and quality. Speaking of quality, the production quality on this album is surprisingly good. If you're a Gamma Ray fan, you'll definately enjoy this, and hell, even if you're not, you might want to give it a shot anyway.