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Gamma Ray - Power Plant

1999 Noise Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-08-11

Kind of a sad letter accompanied this release, basically amounting to an urgent plea to try and convince everyone that Gamma Ray is not part of the whole "retro-thrash" movement. Well, to most of us, there's no need, for both Gamma Ray and Noise records are pretty much synonymous with German speed metal, whether it be from 1987 or 1999. Of course, this may or may not be a good thing, for I must admit, I never really got into the whole Maiden-extension thing (Helloween, as a prime example, and yes, Gamma Ray), opting for things with a heavier feel throughout. I definitely missed something though, for while I STILL don't dig a lot of the newer stuff coming out, getting a lot of this stuff in the mail made me break out the old tapes and vinyl to give it another chance. The verdict? I missed out on some kick ass stuff at the time, but as evidenced, most of it ages pretty well, so whether you're spinning The Keeper of the Seven Keys or Power Plant, majestic, melodic metal is the name of the game, something at which Kai Hansen excelled at writing for both bands. Almost coming full circle, Hansen is back on vocals (see the pre-Keeper Helloween releases), filling the shoes of the departed Ralf Scheepers. Some really good stuff within, but man do I hear riffs from the memory banks flying all around. Most blend well with the rest of the song structure, but more than a few make me wonder "from what particular some did that originate", a pet peeve of mine. More than a few passing references to both Priest and Maiden, but as they are pretty much the originators of this branch of tree, it's to be expected. As with the Blind Guardian, it took a few spins to get this into my system, but once in there, I was definitely hooked. Only problem I have here is that I can only handle about half of this in one sitting, the most memorable tracks being one through four... But hey, that's still a half an hour's worth of material, about what most death metal bands are putting out now! Brought into the nineties by the crystal production, Power Plant still suffers from those horrible (in my opinion) eighties cover art blues that plagued so many albums throughout history. This Powerslave knockoff by IM alumnus Derek Riggs is just bad, which would have just reinforced my bias against this sort of product had I been choosing what to get in the shop. Hopefully this won't stop the rest of the world, as Gamma Ray have been around for quite some time (at least main man Kai), perfecting their brand of metal for the masses. Pretty much a self-produced effort, it's cool to read the liner notes, which have a personal feel throughout. Good stuff from one of the metal elders...