In a mammoth, collaborative promotional effort, Bravewords, Decibel Magazine and Metal Insider, unite, each bringing fans two tracks from the record.
A record that almost wasn’t, Empire Of The Undead was composed throughout 2013 with Eike Freese (Dark Age) at the mixing desk alongside bassist/co-writer, Dirk SchlÃ¤chter, and was nearing completion before Hammer Studios, their home, rehearsal space, and meeting point for many metal bands throughout Germany, had burned down leaving much of its contents in ruins. Fortunately, the Empire Of The Undead masters managed to make it through unscathed. “If this could not stop us, nothing ever will,” joked light-hearted GAMMA RAY vocalist Kai Hansen, adding that, “We got rid of a lot of shit that we gathered there. Unfortunately, a lot of good equipment as well. Anyhow, we look towards the future, we saved the production and we can continue now in this new place.”
More than four years since the release of their critically-acclaimed tenth full-length, To The Metal!, Empire Of The Undead is over an hour long and showcases a band more ambitious and variable than ever before. From the symphonic bombast of album opener “Avalon,” to the high-speed, Judas Priestian drive of “Hellbent,” GAMMA RAY manages to tread through an entire spectrum of heavy metal. Elsewhere the band seamlessly explores the realms of driving hard rock (“Pale Rider”) – a stylistic element Hansen honed from his time with side project Unisonic; triumphant power metal anthems (“I Will Return”) and emotional rock ballads (“Time For Deliverance”). Adding to its sonic diversity is the notable variation in Hansen’s characteristically high-pitched, voice. On “Master Of Confusion” from 2013’s eponymous EP, Hansen’s timbre is reminiscent of Billy Idol while the anthemesque “Seven” is suddenly punctuated by a sinister recitative, cleverly decelerating the song’s speed before finally exploding in a great choir finale.
“As far as variation is concerned, I think that’s something we always craved for, something we always needed. To just do the same thing on ten or eleven songs is boring in some way,” Hansen remarks. “I always liked albums that had a certain variety in style in some way, as long as everything fits together. We always took the freedom to do what we liked and since I like so many different things, this album has become quite manifold…There’s definitely more bite and heaviness on this album. Since I’ve been pretty busy with Unisonic, which is more on the hardrock /AOR side of things, there has definitely been a need to be as bad as can be with GAMMA RAY now….”
Empire Of The Undead will be released in North America on CD, LP and digitally via Armoury Records in conjunction with earMusic on April 15, 2014.