This album made me realise that I’m one of those people who complain no matter what. Oh this new album sounds too much like the last one / This album doesn’t sound like you at all, what on earth made you change your sound etc. etc. Because my first thought was: This sounds so much like Gamma Ray it’s not even funny. My second thought was: They really got their shit together on this, reminds of the classic Gamma Ray albums.
In other words I’m torn between wanting them to change and wanting them to stay true to what I liked about them in the first place. Luckily for me, Empire of the Undead has a bit both.
The first track, Avalon, is interesting in more ways than one. First of all, to open an album with a ten minute song, is a rare thing and risky. You risk losing your impatient audience before you have properly started, and it also invites track skipping and hit picking. I’m an album guy, a truly good release is something that you put on and then it flows, with better and worse parts, but with an overall plan, sound, style and quality, but with a ten minute opener you risk losing me from the get go. Luckily Avalon is interesting and well crafted, a bit repetitive at times. It’s not up there with Rebellion in Dreamland etc.but it’s good.
Hellbent is an old school power metal tune. A pulsating, riff heavy song, with a singalong chorus and lyrics concerning how big a metalhead you turned out to be. ‘Gotta love it.
Pale Rider and Born to Fly are run of the mill Gamma Ring tunes, with alot of things happening guitar wise and nice, punchy, vocal melodies. Master of Confusion is everything I want from Gamma Ray, fast, riffy, hooky and something to sing along to.
Next up is the title track, Empire of the Undead. It’s a good song, but it’s lacking something, something I can’t put my finger on, I don’t know. The song really has it all, and the lyrics deal with zombies and cemeteries and creepy stuff, so that can’t be it. Maybe it’s Kais somewhat weird pronunciation of the word empire? I really don’t know.
And now it’s ballad time. Time for Deliverance is a run of the mill ballad, and I won’t spend time on it here.
Demonseed turns us back to what Gamma Ray is all about, fast great riffs and also sport a rather creepy sound clip. The two last songs are among the strongest songs Kai and the boys have released in quite some time. Seven is maybe the fastest song on the album. I Will Return even has an audio clip of Arnie himself saying his famous line.