2014 is shaping up to be one of the best years for power metal in living memory, and Gamma Ray‘s new album Empire Of The Undead is going to be a huge part of that. Gamma Ray are veterans to the scene and have put out many quality albums, but when a band gets older there is always a small amount of doubt that they might not be able to maintain the high standard of their hey-day. If it can happen to At Vance, it can happen to you.
Last year, the band released an EP with two new songs, and earlier this month they released another new song - and now, with just three days to go until release, Gamma Ray have released a fourth track for listening.
The new song is called “Avalon” and if there were ever any doubt after the first couple songs that Kai Hansen and Gamma Ray could produce a great album, there isn’t any longer. Gamma Ray have two types of songs: blistering heavy metal, and operatic, bombastic anthemic epics, and their best material has always been the latter. “Avalon” is no exception to that. It is – and forgive me for my simple phrasing here – absolutely and totally fucking epic.
The song starts of with clean guitars and a nice vocal hook, before it slams some absolutely massive guitar riffs down your throat. The chorus is a strong lesson in How To Make Unbelievably Good Choruses and the use of choirs is a fantastic touch, and the light brushes of orchestral arrangements pushes this nine-minute tune over the top. The middle is marked by harder edged heavy metal rock and roll, but that doesn’t mean it dials back the greatness at all. Kai Hansen’s voice is on full display in this section, as the superb twin guitar work from Kai and Henjo Richter. At the seven minute mark, the band appear to finish the song, crashing out in true rock and roll style, but then launch back into the grandiose epic section for a finale unlike any other.
In other news, I think I am now pregnant with Kai Hansen’s ear babies.
Empire of the Undead will be released March 28th on earMusic.