Let me start by saying this: GAMMA RAY’s “Majestic” is easily my most anticipated release of the year. In fact, I have been eagerly awaiting a new GAMMA RAY release since the first time I heard their last, “No World Order”, clear back in 2001. That album really opened me up to power metal and I still regard it as one of my all time favourites. So, for “Majestic” to be anything less than brilliant would be a disappointment.
And after my first few listens I was, well, disappointed. So, why the 9/10 score, you ask? Let me explain.
I was disappointed after my first few listens. I had grown used to instant gratification with GAMMA RAY and “Majestic” does not offer this. Kai and the boys have taken a turn towards slightly darker pastures with “Majestic”, with a heavier sound and lyrics dealing with Satan, hell, vampires, war and other pleasant topics. The songwriting is a little more complex this time around and not as immediately catchy. This album is a bit of a grower, but once it hit me, whew! It slammed me against the wall and hasn’t let go since.
“My Temple” starts things off with a bang, showcasing fast double bass drumming before a more subdued chorus slows things a bit. “Fight” follows with the catchiest chorus on the album. “Hell Is Thy Home” is my favourite track from Majestic, with a very dark lyrical concept. “Majesty” sees the inclusion of more modern sounding guitars in the verses (don’t worry, GAMMA RAY haven’t gone Nu-Metal) and may be the heaviest track on the album. “Revelation” closes “Majestic” with a classic GAMMA RAY epic. Eclipsing the eight-minute mark, this track is on par with “Rebellion In Dreamland” from “Land Of The Free”. What a great way to end the album.
And of course, this being GAMMA RAY, the musicianship is all top notch. These guys are all truly genre leaders. Kai Hansen is in top form both vocally and as a guitar player. He just rips. Dan Zimmerman proves once again that he is one of power metal’s premier drummers. His work in both GAMMA RAY and Freedom Call has always impressed me. Henjo Richter (guitar/keyboards) and Dirk Schlächter (bass) are also at their best here.
While “Majestic” does not quite reach the pure magic of “No World Order”, it is another classic in the GAMMA RAY catalogue. The darker lyrical standpoint and slightly heavier sound may even help the band gain some new fans. All in all, a real winner for GAMMA RAY and an album of the year contender for me, right up there with DARK TRANQUILLITY’s “Character” and MORGANA LEFAY’s “Grand Materia”. Go get it now! (Online January 20, 2006)