While we wait for an upcoming new full length release, GAMMA RAY comes around with a new EP featuring two brand new studio tracks, two cover songs and six live tracks from the last release “Skeletons & Majesties” that were not included on all regular editions and are now available for all fans around the world.
The two new studio tracks are definitely the highlights on the release. “Empire of the Undead” is a dirtier and almost Hard Rock or Thrash Metal orientated track. It reminds me almost a little bit of MOTÖRHEAD and of some of the more brutal tracks EDGUY used to do around ten years ago. “Master of Confusion” hits a more traditional European Power Metal vein. The quite melodic and catchy song reminds a lot of HELLOWEEN’s legendary “I Want Out”. Kai Hansen somewhat copies the style of his ex-band and despite its lack of originality, the song is energizing enough and should be a sure value for the upcoming concerts.
The two cover songs hit a similar vein. “Death Or Glory” is a little bit harder and reminds of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal while “Lost Angels” is more commercial and melodic. This means that the songs are rather close to the originals. They lack of originality but they are surely fun to listen to and have their reason to be there.
The live tracks are not so convincing in my opinion because they don’t really have a spectacular live atmosphere and are rather close to the studio versions. The only exception and highlight is the emotional rendition of “Farewell” that works better than the studio version. The other songs are alright but nothing outstanding at all.
In the end, if you like Power Metal and are able to get this EP for a fair price somewhere between five or ten dollars or Euros, don’t hesitate to grab it. If it’s too expensive, just be patient and wait for the upcoming full length release. Note that the Japanese version of this release includes an interesting bonus track called "Sag Mir Bescheid", a German version of the GAMMA RAY classic "Send Me a Sign". Lucky Japanese! If you are looking for great live material, be smart and grab the energizing “Skeletons in the Closet” double-album from 2003 instead of the last live release.
(Online May 31, 2013)