The third release of the Kai Hansen-fronted Gamma Ray sees the band continuing on their trail of conceptual Power Metal albums. But unlike "Land Of The Free" or "Somewhere Out In Space", which both featured many memorable moments without actually having any actual singles in the cannon, "Powerplant" seems to invest most of its stakes on a few compositions while leaving other parts of the album seem a bit uninspired. Overall it's still a pretty solid effort by the band that have slowly began to lose some of their momentum after two very strong releases. Great melodies and enthusiastic playing are very much in place but they lack the overall consistency of the previous efforts.
The first three songs are the album's strongest tracks with "Anywhere In The Galaxy" being an excellent opener followed but "Razorblade Sign" and "Send Me A Sign", both being strong but somewhat unusual compositions in Gamma Ray's repertoire. "Strangers In The Night" could be a tribute to the classic Saxon track, but you wouldn't think it while listening to this Power Metal track. The reason for my theory comes from the Biff Byford-inspired vocals featured on "Heavy Metal Universe" where Kai sings the line "masters of the thunder" just like Biff did on "Heavy Metal Thunder".
Unlike the previous albums, that have been re-released with a few cover tracks, "Powerplant" features a cover on the actual album of Pet Shop Boys' "It's A Sin". I used to enjoy this cover a lot earlier but now I, more often than not, press then skip button. "Heavy Metal Universe" is a fun little metal tribute track that doesn't actually bring much to the album but it's nice to hear that Gamma Ray are humble to their roots. "Wings Of Destiny" is a pretty weird track due to it's bombast intro which then transforms into a completely different rhythm during the verse sections while the chorus line is ridiculously out of place... somehow it still makes me enjoy it even more due to all its flaws.
"Hand Of Fate" and "Armageddon" are good closing numbers which unfortunately drag on for too long but, when I think about it, most of the tracks on this album are at least a minute too long for their own good. Still, it's not something that Gamma Ray are about to change any time soon.
Overall, "Powerplant" is slightly weaker than two of its predecessors but I still enjoy listening to it on occasion. If you've loved "Land Of The Free" and "Somewhere Out In Space" then this is definitely the next obvious step for you. Otherwise I'd skip right on to "No World Order", but more on that soon!
**** star songs: Anywhere In The Galaxy (6:37) Razorblade Sigh (5:01) Send Me A Sign (4:06) Strangers In The Night (6:03) Gardens Of The Sinner (5:56) Heavy Metal Universe (5:24) Wings Of Destiny (6:25) Hand Of Fate (6:11) Armageddon (8:49)
*** star songs: Short As Hell (3:57) It's A Sin (4:58)