Gamma Ray – Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome (And The Finnish Keyboarder Who Didn´t Want To Wear His Donald Duck Costume) Live in Montreal DVD

gamma rayDebate all you want about the pantheon of metal and who is sitting among the exalted thrones near the top, but gaze up upon that cloud encircled mountain and you will see one Kai Hansen perched up there wielding a flying V and looking for his pack of cigarettes. Metal god? Rob Halford? Nah…. In my book, it is Kai, hands down. I’ve always liked Helloween better than Priest. The albums that he was involved in were all gold. Then moving on to Gamma Ray… once he reassumed the mic position, Gamma Ray became something truly special, as if it was a more developed Helloween jacked up on Queen (the band). Aggression meets soaring twin harmonies and excellent singing, really… Gamma Ray crushes the power metal competition because Kai and company had a hand in creating the genre, leaving everyone in one form or another aspiring to be them, or rip them off.

For all of you Gamma Ray maniacs out there, the Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome Live in Montreal DVD was well worth the wait. 2 discs cram packed with quality and superior metal firepower. Disc 1 features the bands performance in front of a very enthusiastic crowd and Gamma Ray gives it all back with a quality 2 hour long set. With a good share of songs from the No World Order and Majestic releases and of course the classics in tow, one cannot help but be swept away by the heart and conviction in this performance. You can tell the band loves life and the opportunity to bring their wonderful brand of heavy metal to the masses. Classics like “Rebellion in Dreamland” and a searingly fast rendition of “Man on a Mission” (this one is a power metal classic and one of my most favorite songs ever) sound just as vital as they did the day they were written. As a band grows and becomes more comfortable in their lengthy career, there’s usually a definite difference in their newer material sounding safe, or tired. This simply isn’t the case here, for newer songs like “Heart of the Unicorn”, “Fight” and “Blood Religion” feel just as invigorated/lethal in structure and superior guitar work, that it seems Gamma Ray have grown stronger as a band and realize their past and future even clearer the further they march. I’ve never been a fan of ballads period and Gamma Ray do dip into this style on occasion to explore their Queen roots, but even those songs are well composed enough for me to find respect and appreciation for what I’m hearing. Regarding the filming of this DVD, I’m thankful to report that the flashing edits that cut away as soon as the pupil adjusts to the screen (like any modern Iron Maiden epilepsy inducing DVD) are not here at all, so the viewing experience is smooth, allowing the participant to be able to relax, focus on the music and the performance. It’s always a treat to be able to see the guitar duo of Kai and Henjo Richter in action and on Hell Yeah!!!, their twin guitar leads are seamless and hungry as ever as they both make it seem that every note is effortless. Sure, I could live without the cliché crowd sing-along/participation in “Heavy Metal Universe”, but this comes with the territory where live albums/videos are concerned. One little complaint does not detract at all from my enjoyment factor of  this DVD. Hell Yeah!!! Would have left me satisfied completely with the performance alone and a surprise Helloween song selection in the form of “I Want Out”, but Gamma Ray have included a second disc as well to sweeten the pot…

Disc 2 is laced with bonus features, starting with a light hearted, booze swimming tour documentary where random clips of band member antics seem disjointed and full of “inside joke, you had to be there to get it” moments. A fun, though maybe unnecessary glimpse into touring conditions of 4 guys that obviously enjoy each others company. From there, we are given all of Gamma Ray’s promotional videos (many of which I’ve never seen thanks to American MTV), various songs taken from several older Wacken Open Air fest performances, closing with a 47 minute long “HistoRay” of the band, featuring back-stage footage, more live performances and other over-the-years private vids from the Gamma vaults. Again… another disc with over 2 hours of material really makes this whole package worth whatever they are charging to fans that have been known to skip a car payment or eating lunch for a week or 2 during their lives due to that “must have” Gamma Ray merch. You know who you are!!

For the absolute completist, there is also a 2 CD version of this release that features the same setlist as the DVD, but with 4 bonus tracks from a more recent gig to make sure some tracks from Land of the Free II are accounted for since it is really the newest release the band is currently promoting. Again… no fear on the consumers part when buying this package. Complete quality and care for the metal is what Gamma Ray has stood for and continues to uphold with Hell Yeah!! –Marty


~ by martyworm on July 5, 2009.

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