Gamma Ray

Twilight Force – At the Heart of Wintervale Review

Twilight Force – At the Heart of Wintervale Review

Twilight Force’s Dawn of the Dragonstar should have been on my 2019 year-end list. Hell, I should have at least written a Things You Might Have Missed piece on it. Yet in retrospect, at the time, the prospect of fully embracing Twilight Force was borderline embarrassing, even for me.” Return of the GammaStrataWeenie.

Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles Review

Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles Review

“I know that most of you have already eyed my score on this review, and have nearly broken your damn necks from the whiplash of rapidly scrolling up for answers. For many, this choice will come across as confusing and misguided, but as someone who’s listened to Fellowship’s self-titled EP on repeat for two years, it’s anything but. That EP might be the reason I survived the early pandemic days with my sanity intact. It’s a bottomless wellspring of joy, dominated by gorgeous melodies, exhilarating solos, and clever, heartwarming lyrical turns. On the strength of those three songs alone, Fellowship’s debut LP would have probably been my power metal album of the year. The fact that every song on the record is as good as or better than any song from the EP puts it in another class entirely.” Off to see the Wizzard.

Helloween – Helloween Review

Helloween – Helloween Review

Helloween gets 97.543% of the credit for creating what we now think of as the Euro-power metal sound. Led by the high-pitched wailing of Kai Hansen, their Walls of Jericho debut was a nonstop rush of speed and irresistible hooks, and Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I was less speedy but far more polished and majestic, featuring the vocal power of a young Michael Kiske. When it was announced that BOTH long absent frontmen would be returning to Helloween to join current frontman Andi Deris for a new album, I felt conflicted.” He should have squashed his expectations.

Iapetus – The Body Cosmic [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

Iapetus – The Body Cosmic [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

“Metal offers incalculable aural interpretations of outer space. Darkspace focuses on the inhospitable nature of the infinite vacuum. Gamma Ray pitches a trip through a black hole as the ultimate roller coaster ride. Ghost Bath dwells on the melancholic isolation of the cosmos while also sounding like something out of Sonic Adventure. Yet it takes Iapetus just over three minutes to craft a moment more compelling than any of those with their sophomore LP, The Body Cosmic.” Space in your face.

Thornbridge – Theatrical Masterpiece Review

Thornbridge – Theatrical Masterpiece Review

“When it comes to power metal, I’m really not difficult to please. My expectations for a good example of the genre are no more elevated than the baseline that Helloween established over three decades ago; the material needs to be fun, energetic, and hooky, and if a band can pull this off, I ask for little else. I don’t think there’s a power metal act out there that fails to identify this recipe for success, yet so very few of them manage to capitalize. The style is plagued by countless bands rehashing watered down pop melodies against toothless power chords, seemingly unable to perceive that they utterly lack the charisma that elevated their influences. Thornbridge sees these pretenders, and says ‘we can do better.'” Though, with a name like Theatrical Masterpiece, there is a sense that they might be setting expectations a tad high.

Elvenstorm – The Conjuring Review

Elvenstorm – The Conjuring Review

“With magic, the devil is in the details, particularly when treating with the forces of darkness. Make one wrong move and you might find your spleen ruptured or your housecat warped into some sort of hellbeast. If I might invoke a rather maltreated metaphor, so it is with old-school heavy metal. The devil, in this case, comes in the form of French heavy/power metal outfit Elvenstorm and their fourth album The Conjuring. As for the details, there’s the obvious question. In spite of a well-worn style — a dead one by some measures — can Elvenstorm at least offer an enjoyable listening experience?” Magic: The Bothering.

Airborn – Lizard Secrets: Part One – Land of the Living Review

Airborn – Lizard Secrets: Part One – Land of the Living Review

“Lizard Secrets! LIZARD SECRETS! When sifting through the endless pile of gore-drenched and occult-themed album titles in the AMG promo bin, something as adorable as Lizard Secrets immediately stands out. As for Airborn themselves, well, they’ve had a tough time doing the same in the power metal scene over the past twenty two years of their existence, plugging along on a semi-regular release schedule that I had been completely unaware of until I plucked this album from the a(mg)ether.” I toad you that was a secret!

Seven Sisters – The Cauldron and the Cross Review

Seven Sisters – The Cauldron and the Cross Review

“Although I tend to dabble in extreme metal more often, make no mistake, I do love the traditional stuff. I have fond memories of my brother and I pouring over the lyrics to Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” until we could recite them flawlessly — a skill we both still keenly possess. Seven Sisters, a band thusly named for the area of North London they hail from, share my love of the classic craft, as evident on their second full-length, The Cauldron and the Cross.” Trooper metal.

Vhäldemar – Against All Kings Review

Vhäldemar – Against All Kings Review

“A Spanish band that’s been active since 1999, Vhäldemar released a pair of relatively well received albums in the early 00’s, featuring influences far-flung as Gamma Ray, Manowar, and Rhapsody. After independently releasing a couple of underwhelming records in the early half of this decade, they’ve found a new home with Fighter Records, a label known around these parts for harboring the disasterpiece that is Tales of Gaia’s Hypernova.” Power metal: Approach with caution.