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:: Gamma Ray - Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal’

Following on from the release of their double live album ‘Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal’, German power/speed metal pioneers Gamma Ray have finally released the double DVD equivalent, and what a package it is. As mentioned in the review for the CD, ‘Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal’ was recorded on their first headlining U.S./Canadian tour in 2006 while supporting their excellent ‘Majestic’ release from 2005, with the first disc featuring the band’s performance at The Medley in front of a sold out audience.

The highlights of the band’s two hour long set remains the same as they were from the CD, with ‘Blood Religion’, the classic ‘Send Me A Sign’, ‘Heart Of The Unicorn’, ‘Man On A Mission’, ‘Land Of The Free’ and the epic ‘Heavy Metal Universe’ worthy of a special mention amongst the eighteen track best of set aired on the night’s performance. On the visual front, it’s clear that the band (comprising of vocalist/guitarist Kai Hansen, guitarist Henjo Richter, bassist Dirk Schlächter and drummer Dan Zimmermann, and guest keyboardist Eero Kaukomies, who’s credited as ‘The Finnish Keyboarder Who Didn’t Want To Wear His Donald Duck Costume’) have employed a film crew that know exactly what they’re doing, with every member of the band given plenty of screen time, and the lighting really showing off the band’s energetic performance throughout. The crowd noise is still a little on the low end of the audio throughout most of the show (Which is a fault that was also on the CD version of this show), but given the amount of fun the band are having on the stage, and the great show overall, it’s a small complaint in what is otherwise a fantastic show from the veteran act.

On the second disc, the quality of ‘Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal’ tends to drop a little, with the bonus footage a little mixed in terms of genuine quality. The forty-six minute documentary ‘Bits & Pieces Of Historay’ is an interesting collection of studio/interview/live footage that was shot throughout Gamma Ray’s long history. But given that most of the dialogue is spoken in German, it tends to be a little lost on non-German speaking fans for the most part, with only the visuals really providing any real insight to the band’s transformation over the years. Fortunately, the sixteen minute ‘Road Movie USA 2006’ documentary gives viewers the option of subtitles, which at least goes someway to explaining what the band are laughing at throughout the escapades across North America.

‘Unplugged In Japan’ on the other hand is really cool, with Hansen and Richter’s fifteen minute set including stripped back versions of ‘Rebellion In Dreamland’, ‘Land Of The Free’, ‘Fairytale’ and ‘Send Me A Sign’, while the two performances from Wacken Open Air 2003 (‘One With The World’ and ‘Last Before The Storm’) and three from Wacken Open Air 2006 (‘Rebellion In Dreamland’, ‘Heavy Metal Universe’ and ‘Somewhere Out In Space’) are definite worthwhile additions to the bonus disc, even if the live sound and visuals are a little below the standard set from the concert on the first disc.

Value on the second disc once again drops a little with the pointless ‘Melbourne Playback’ footage (A compilation of live visuals from Melbourne, set to a studio version of ‘Heavy Metal Universe’), but is saved with a collection of all the band’s promotional video clips to date (Namely ‘Heavy Metal Universe’, ‘Space Eater’, ‘One With The World’, ‘Rebellion In Dreamland’, ‘Gamma Ray’, ‘Eagle’ and ‘Send Me A Sign’).

Despite the inconsistent mix of bonus material on the second disc, the main concert feature on ‘Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal’ is a definite must for diehard fans, and a testament to Gamma Ray’s rightful place as one of today’s biggest power metal band’s on the scene.

DVD Extras

forty-six minute documentary ‘Bits & Pieces Of Historay’ is an interesting collection of studio/interview/live footage

sixteen minute ‘Road Movie USA 2006’ documentary

Unplugged In Japan

two performances from Wacken Open Air 2003

three performances from Wacken Open Air 2006

Melbourne Playback’ footage

collection of promotional video clips