Sound: I thought I'd submit a review for an album that is lacking any. The very thought that the community of UG has not reviewed such a landmark power metal album as this (and the following 'Somewhere out in space') leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Shame on you all! Land of the free demonstrates some lovely songwriting from the 'pioneer' of power metal Kai Hansen. As for the origins of the band itself, Gamma ray have existed ever since Kai Hansen left Helloween after keepers part 2. Originally having Primal fear's vocalist Ralf Scheepers in the vocals department, this was the first Ray album to feature Hansen singing mainly. Hansen was no stranger to vocals anyway, having sang on Helloween's debut before Kiske was drafted in. The CD we have here is uplifting, melancholic, dramatic and a tribute to old bands like Priest, Maiden and Queen. Let me elaborate as to why I've compared Gamma ray to these bands. The vocal harmonies are all Queen, riffing is divided between Maiden and priest, and Kai's vocals remind me of Halford. You can call them rip off merchants if you like but nobody can deny that they carve out their own style through it all. Production is never ropey. The stuff they do in this record is astounding. // 9
Lyrics: I'm impressed by Kai's vocals. He has huge range and never sounds overly thin, which is needed in the power metal genre. I'll give a general runthrough of the tracklisting detailing which tracks I think shine.
Rebellion In Dreamland - this track is probably the best thing Kai has ever written. Starts off with a melancholic intro then explodes into Kai screaming about freedom being for us all. Verse riff is pure Priest and the chorus is simply astounding (the fact that it only occures twice in the song is a niggle off mine). Time changes, choral singing, great solos, this song is fantastic.
Man On A Mission - simply wow. Fast, upbeat, cheesy as hell but simply awesome. The verses are great, Chorus is so good, the queen style interlude has brilliant harmonies and to top it all off, the pedantic refrain before the last chorus is so brilliantly executed. Probably my favourite track off the album.
Fairytale - outro of sorts for the previous track. Short but sweet.
All Of The Damned - huge chorus and an egyptian feel running through the whole song. Starts of quiet then explodes with heavy metal riffery. The lyrics in the pre-chorus are fantastically cheesy.
Gods Of Deliverance - hell yes. Starts off with great drumming, then in with the thrash metal style riff. Lyrics are typical of this album, thoughtful questions of existence between kickass parts, that well, kick ass.
Land Of The Free - I introduced my brother to this band with this song. So goddamn cheesy. I love it so much. Very maiden-esque riff at the beginning (think of something from killers) going into a creepy verse section. Explodes again, settles down into creep-a-thon, explodes again and then goes into the prechorus and chorus. Kai's vocals shine through.
These are my standout tracks from the album. As I've said before the lyrics are pure cheese, but damn it, I like that stuff. I've knocked a few points off because there are some fillers (the ballad Farewell, in particular) and some of the intro tracks being quite unnecessary. // 8
Overall Impression: I think the next album by Gamma Ray (the aforementioned 'Somewhere out in space') is pretty much their pinnacle. But this album was the turning point for this band. They hinted at greatness before with tracks like 'Last before the storm'. But with this album they came to release a more consistent, likeable statement than the previous records. I was pretty rocked out when I heard this album, and it feels a shame to not sing its praises. // 9