Hansen & Friends – XXX – Three Decades In Metal

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Absolutely out of nowhere we received, a few months ago, the news of the imminent release of Kai Hansen’s first solo album. As one can easily reckon, this was one of the most anticipated albums of 2016 as we are talking about the man who gave birth to a musical genre more than 30 years ago. So, the sound of red alert was signaled among the power metal fans around the world.

The first taste or introduction, if you prefer, of the new album came with the likeable (but not special) song “Born Free”. Naturally, we’d expected far more things from Hansen and the rest of the bunch as, truth be told here, he seemed a little bit stalled from a compositional standpoint in the last few years. Luckily for all of us, things were brighter and better with the rest of the album. The contribution of the many special guests (Dee Snider, Tobias Sammet, Michael Kiske, Ralf Scheepers, Hansi Kursch, Roland Grapow etc.) and most importantly the songs themselves surely played a big role on this great final result. As it was expected, there is a clear Judas Priest influence on many songs but also an obvious power metal aesthetic in such songs as “Follow The Sun”, “Making Headlines”, “Contract Son” which are the highlights of the album. There is also the song “Stranger In Time” that I try really hard to pinpoint what it reminds me…maybe the epic atmosphere of Ten’s “Fear The Force”. Oh well…

All in all, “XXX – Three Decades In Metal” is a remarkable album that may not blow your mind but it projects a refreshing Kai Hansen and that’s really important for the future of Gamma Ray.

Highlight: Hansen is accompanied in the studio by Alex Dietz (Heaven Shall Burn), Daniel Wilding (Carcass) and Eike Fresse.