The old creativity is ever-present, the team as committed as always, the approach decidedly international – in the sixteenth year of their career, melodic metal act Gammy Ray from Hamburg have lost none of the enthusiasm that their fans all over the world have come to love and cherish. Their latest album, Majestic, is full to the brim with impressive compositions again, translated in a technically accomplished style, bursting with diversity and ideas. The album title suggests that we are dealing with a decidedly majestic offering, yet terms such as "earthy, rocky, anthemnic, powerful" seem to do much more justice to Majestic. So let's leave it to the audience to find the appropriate words to describe this recording.
However, fact is: Gamma Ray in 2005 continue to come across as a unified whole. Following a number of line-up changes in the early stages of the band's career, Kai Hansen (guitar, bass), Dirk Schlächter (bass), Henjo Richter (guitar, keyboards) and Daniel Zimmermann (drums) have grown into a team that betrays their ten years of cooperation with every single note: their music sounds tight and precise, benefiting from their compositional unison. Next to main composer Hansen, Richter and Zimmermann have also contributed their own tracks to Majestic, ensuring a diversity that always bears that typical Gammy Ray signature.
Whether the musicians put their foot on the accelerator, deliver solid guitar riffs or combine a catchy chorus with cleverly constructed arrangements – their style remains unmistakable.
In all this, the band members can always rely on their experience and intuitive approach. "We consciously didn't work out every idea down to the last detail but left the option open to make decisions or change things during the production," mastermind and founder member Kai Hansen explains. The result justifies this attitude: Majestic sounds mature and well thought-out, as well as fresh and spontaneous. From high-speed tracks like 'My Temple', 'Hell Is Thy Home' or 'Fight' through driving riff number along the lines of 'Strange World', the NWOBHM-inspired 'Blood Religion' or modern influences on 'Condemned To Hell', to 'Revelation' with its epic proportions (not only in terms of playing time), Gamma Ray cover the whole range of traditional, but never clichéd power metal.
Gamma Ray recorded their new album at the band's own Hansen Studios in Hamburg, as always with Kai Hansen and Dirk Schlächter on the controls, keeping a close eye on sound and orchestration. Majestic was mastered by Mika Jussila (Stratovarius, Masterplan, Edguy, among others) at the Finnvox- Studios in Helsinki – a sort of watchdog to avoid stimulus satiation. "When you've worked on an album for as long as we have, it's easy to lose the necessary distance to remain discerning when it comes to the final product," comments Hansen on the perils of an intense recording process. "That's why it was important for us to invited Mika to lend an unbiased ear." Jussila gave the 10 songs a warm, dynamic and well-rounded sonic corset. "Before they were mastered, the tracks sounded shriller and more edgy," Hansen confesses. "Thanks to Mika, they've become a very pleasant sonic experience that can be thoroughly enjoyed, particularly at full volume."
Their fans are looking forward to that full-volume experience also in another respect: following their extremely successful Skeleton In The Closet tour, featuring small, more or less inconspicuous gems from Gamma Ray's career, the band from Germany's North have announced a new show featuring all their tried and tested highlights, which are set to guarantee a wildly enthusiastic atmosphere at the Bang Your Head festival in Balingen and about one month later at the Tuska festival in Helsinki. In early September, only a few days after the release of their album, Gamma Ray are scheduled to kick off their world tour in Eastern Europe, stopping off in Germans in October (tour dates to be confirmed soon), probably enlisting – as usual – a renowned support act to complete their familiar high-quality touring package. So watch out, the Gamma Ray is shining again!