Has it really been about twenty years now since Gammer Ray came onto the Metal plains with Heading For Tomorrow? Yes, it has. Actually at this point it’s been over twenty years since that album debuted back in February of 1990. Since then the band has released nine full-length albums, many solid efforts, but as of late has not been able to really pull together to create an album that holds the same impact that some of them have, which is rather disheartening considering such albums as Land Of The Free and Somewhere Out In Space have been created by this act. But, with a name title album that is short for one of the biggest generalizations in Power Metal today, can To The Metal! overcome for the recent downward slope of material, and the the rather frowned upon previous album Land Of The Free II?
Amidst the fury of scorn that many have placed on this release, To The Metal! is not that bad an album. it’s clear that with this album the band has seemed to lose their signature sound moreso, and their music has actually become rather common and generic. The first track, “Empathy”, really does it’s job well to stand out on the album and get you pumped for what you would expect to be one hell of a Power Metal ride, but everything seems to come to a bit of halt after “All You Need to Know”, and practically coming to a complete stop at “To the Metal”, which is easily one of the most traditional metal worship songs you could ever hear, as well as find on practically any cheesy eighties metal album.
To The Metal! continues to be a roller coaster of hapiness and despair after that point, thanks wholly to the song “Rise”, as well as later tracks “Deadlands” and “Chasing Shadows”, which is one of few tracks on here that really have an edge that fans would come to expect from the act. However, “Shine Forever” really comes as a spit in the face as the band comes out of nowhere with Judas Priest and Rob Halford homages in the music and clearly in the vocals. Had the vocal style of a higher pitched singing not been used, as it just sounds horrible, sticking with one specific tone and is cannot be deciphered. Had these vocals appeared in the background of certain parts of the song instead of the main verses, it wouldn’t have been as bad, but there’s also still the commanding shouting vocals to contend with in the song, as well as the fact that it’s all over the place, jumping between Speed and Heavy Metal, to a very Power Metal chorus that sticks out like a sore thumb. This track is, however, not the last to incorporate the obnoxiously obvious higher pitched singing. “Deadlands” also has this, but shows how it could have worked in favor of “Shine Forever” by leaving it to be in the background as supporting vocals.
Now, while it seems that this album is a total bomb, please understand that it’s not. While the music is really not on par with the band’s talents, and much of it just sounds generic, it’s a very solid recording. Each track on here is performed well and usually with great enthusiasm by the band. Some tracks on here that don’t quite have much of a kick are just really good to unwind with, such as “Mother Angel”. Aside that, the guitar solos on the album are very impressive, and the production quality on the release is just right for this act, giving the music a slight edge without being too polished.
Sadly, To The Metal! is as cliche, if not moreso, then their previous effort, Land Of The Free II. However, if you were to take away the tracks on here that were so cliche that they are not at all enjoyable, you would still be left with a good chunk of material, about half the album, maybe six tracks total if you include the power ballad track “No Need to Cry”, which is actually a well performed track that is somewhat uplifting, even if it glimmers full of Manowar inspirations and seems to drag on in the last minute. To The Metal! is still a solid release with some filler tracks that you will enjoy for a good while, and is worth checking out, but to be approached with caution.