HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

AIRBOURNE
No Guts. No Glory. (Roadrunner)

The shaggin' Aussies are back with a sophomore guaranteed to whack you upside the head with an attack that is closer to Krokus than what all the obvious (but getting tired) AC/DC comparatives would have you slotted and besotted. So in the spirit of the cartoony booklet, you get the joie de vivre of Wolfsbane, the numskull headbang of Bullet (and all those post-NWOBHM French bands), but mainly prime Krokus, a blend of the more event-filled Headhunter and the dirty AC/DC grind of One Vice At A Time. Unfortunately what I mean by that is pretty much the riff-writing. Totality and tone-wise, it's all very clean and efficient and rounding of all the Angus bases. Heck, even Joel O'Keeffe's vocals are graphically marketable, lacking the problem child wobbles of either Scott, Johnson or Storace. So it's hard to escape the feeling of self-evidence one gets from Black Stone Cherry, Buckcherry or the last two Crue records. Still, if the only pandering is to safeness, that's not bad, 'cos there's no compromise with the band's mission, namely a bringing of compositions that sound like the best and heaviest and most obscure AC/DC or Krokus songs, same Angus guitar sound (Mike Fraser is mixer; Johnny K, producer), relentless example after example. I just wonder if a truly rockin' good time is supposed to be about examples.
Rating 7

GAMMA RAY
To The Metal (Edel)

Land Of The Free II had tongues wagging as to Gamma Ray's waning, but Kai Hansen's gleaming machine has long been a band that doesn't screw up, leaving abstracts like song quality pretty much the only thing debatable. To The Metal is pretty much more of the same high-vaulted anthemic creamy speed power as in the past, it seems, with a major Dragonforce influence toward over-the-top theatrics. Production is epic, exacting, but nicely burred and blended. Love the title track though, with its Metal Gods march, Gamma ray looking for and locating that sweet spot that is the nexus between power metal, traditional and pure metal. You can't help but be impressed by the prog metal note densities on this thing, but the irrepressible synthetic quality... those gang vocals seeping into keyboard washes and double bass barrages... we're now a good ten years into gratuitous studio trickery and at some point it's gotta stop. Maybe Death Magnetic was too much of a pendulum swing, but man, To The Metal has me appreciating what Metallica did just that little bit more.
Rating 7

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