Gamma Ray

Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome

Written by: PP on 05/12/2008 11:00:28

What most bands don't realize when planning a live album is that the effort is doomed to fail if any of the following criteria are not met: if the record is not a full set from start to finish at one location, if the crowd participation isn't good or audible, if there is largely no interaction between the crowd and the band, or if the sound quality is generally poor. All too many live releases fall into at least one (sometimes several) of those pitfalls, rendering the final product useless in my ears, but lucky for us, heavy/power metallers Gamma Ray fully understand how to create an awesome live album.

For starters, "Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome" has an awesomely tongue in cheek title. It is also a double CD/DVD combination, with the two audio discs featuring a total of 128 minutes worth of live set from the band's first ever headlining appearance at Montreal, Canada. That alone should suggest that Gamma Ray (and their label I suppose) are in it for the fans and not just for the money, as is all too often the case, the band plays an incredibly diverse set with songs from more or less their entire discography here. Throw in a GREAT atmosphere which is perfectly audible on record in the form of huge cheers and singalongs, and a cheeky frontman joking around on stage in between the songs, and you've got one hell of a package (pun intended). The way vocalist Kai Hansen and co extends "Heavy Metal Universe" around halfway through to get the crowd singing along is a good example of the kind of showmanship this band shows throughout the release: "Are you ready to do some singing? Yeee-hoo" (crowd responds Yee-hoo), "ye-ye-ye-ye-ho" (and so on) to warm everyone up, and a few moments later "okay, give me a loud heavy metal universe" and the crowd responds better than at most shows I've been to. A few moments later he goes "Sorry the jury said no... if you wanna be part of a heavy metal universe, you have to be... louder", with the word louder said in an exceptionally gay/metrosexual manner to add to the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere. A few attempts later the crowd sounds stupendously loud (watch from around 5 minutes on) and the song continues from where it left off a few minutes earlier. Just see the video and stand in awe inspiration of how the crowd eats from the palm of his hand.

What especially surprised me about "Hell Yeah!!!" is how much better Gamma Ray's songs sound live than on record. There's so much more energy, the technical solos sound more intense, and the heavy metal atmosphere in their music is amplified by a boatload. If you ask me, this is exactly how a live record should sound from start to finish; as the album closes to huge applauds from the crowd, I found myself clapping along completely encompassed in this record's atmosphere.


Download: Heavy Metal Universe, Dreamhealer
For the fans of: Helloween, Dragonforce
Listen: YouTube

Release date 27.10.2008

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