Gamma Ray – Skeletons & Majesties Blu-Ray Review

Gamma Ray - Skeletons & Majesties Blu-Ray Review

Gamma Ray – Skeletons & Majesties Blu-Ray Review

Skeletons & Majesties Live, released in 2013, is a concert Blu-Ray from the legendary German Power Metal band Gamma Ray, taken from their 2012 performance in Pratteln, Switzerland. Like fellow Power Metal band Stratovarius’ recent Blu-Ray, this concert captures the last time the band would play with their longest serving drummer, in this case the superb Dan Zimmerman.

It’s a brilliant looking and sounding concert that clocks in at 2hrs 12min. The mix and sound in general are absolutely spot-on and really suits the band’s style. Everything is perfectly clear and balanced and it’s a real joy to listen to. For example, the keys are neither too overpowering or indeed inaudible, the vocals are just the right volume, the kick drum is loud and punchy and overall it all just has a nice powerful sound as a whole. The only nitpick is that the audience aren’t audible often, so when the band gets them to sing along it looks a bit like the audience don’t know the words, but with such a brilliant product overall that’s scarcely a problem.

The whole thing looks great too. They even put a lot of effort into the stage design, lighting and dry ice, this is no cheap affair. The picture for the most part is absolutely crystal clear (unless the stage lighting is interfering with the cameras).

The best thing about the whole affair is the tasteful and clean editing style. It isn’t bogged down in fancy effects or screen overlays too much, the shots don’t change so frequently you get motion sickness and miss all the guitar solos, and it never seems like the visuals just serve the director’s artistic vision rather than giving the fans what they want. Best of all the video and audio are perfectly synced. Sometimes concert films can get a little spoiled by the editing, but this one was handled just perfectly.

The performance from the band is absolutely brilliant and the band seem to be absolutely loving every minute, it’s a really fun performance, with a great atmosphere. Kai is a good front-man and gets the crowd involved as well as making little fun comments here and there about his bandmates. Dan hammers away at the drum kit energetically and the guitarists pull of some amazing solos and complex riffs and time shifts masterfully. Henjo even breaks out some high quality lead vocals briefly.

Kai’s former Helloween bandmate Michael Kiske comes onstage for three songs, adding his distinctive singing to ‘Time To Break Free’ ‘A While In Dreamland’ and a cover of Heloween’s ‘Future World.’

The rest of the 20-track setlist (19 and an intro) is a mixture of stuff from all eras of the band’s career, including the piano driven ballad ‘Farewell,’ and characterful acoustic reworkings of ‘Rebellion In Dreamland’ and ‘Send Me A Sign.’ The band mix fan-favourite tracks and some more obscure material, serious stuff and quirky stuff, fast stuff and slow stuff and it’s a real treat to watch altogether.

The bonus features include 22-minute of behind the scenes interviews with the roadcrew (in German), a 32-minute collection of archive footage from the early days, a six track additional concert from Zeche Bochum Germany (Tracklist: The Spirit, Wings Of Destiny, Farewell, Gamma Ray, Time To Break Free, Insurrection) and the Skeletons & Majesties EP as audio.

As to the Blu-Ray specifics, this version is Region 0, Single Layer Blu-Ray, English Subtitles are available, the sound options are Dolby Stereo 2.0 or Dolby Surround 5.1, its standard is PAL and the aspect ratio is 16:9. My copy came in one of the slimmer Blu-Ray cases.

Overall, this is a superb and hugely enjoyable Blu-Ray concert with a fantastic main feature and some nice bonus features. If you are a fan of the band I absolutely recommend it. To be perfectly honest I highly recommend this even if you aren’t a fan of the band yet. If you find that you like Metal concert films in general, this is a worthwhile investment. It drips with effort and conviction and you couldn’t realistically ask for a higher quality release.

**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn’t been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as ‘Gentlegiantprog “Kingcrimsonprog.”’ So please don’t unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**

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