25 September 2016

Review: XXX Three Decades In Metal by Hansen & Friends

hansenalbumaugustKai Hansen is a man that needs no introduction. Love him or hate him, if you know metal, you know him. XXX: Three Decades In Metal is his first solo affair after (believe it or not) a stunning 30 year career on stage. Starting with the beyond influential Helloween before forming the ludicrous Gamma Ray (a band that will always occupy a special spot in my memory, as it will all other Wirral Grammar School attendees with the flaky Dr Favagers oft used quote: “One cannot dismiss the heavy metal genre without first consulting Gamma Ray…”).

This is a FUN album. This is a guy with nothing to prove doing what he loves with his friends and having fun, tongue firmly in cheek (see Enemies of Fun). That said, the songwriting is still top notch for your typical Teutonic power metal. There are guests galore (hence the ‘And Friends’ in the title) with Primal Fear’s Ralph Scheepers, for example, appearing on the aforementioned Enemies track. Fellow German, Avantasia’s own Tobias Sammet makes a few appearances across the disc, as does the one and only Dee Snider on the piss-taking Contract Song.

There’s nothing ground breaking here; in fact, it’s exactly what you’d expect from someone with a career like Kai’s. Not that that’s a negative, not at all, the man has had 30 years experience perfecting his own brand of metal and this is the result of all those years and for fans it will definitely not disappoint.

The songs are tight and concise, never straying too far from the classic metal formula. The guitar work is as good as you’d expect and the album is anchored with the keystone epic that is Fire and Ice, a near 9 minute behemoth of everything right and bombastic in classic metal. Left Behind almost flirts with grunge in its overall atmosphere and shows that Kai is more than a one horse pony.

All in all, XXX is a fun album, created for Kai himself primarily and for the fans secondarily. It might not make any new fans along the way but it will certainly keep the old ones happy.

Rating: 7/10

Recommended Tracks: Enemies of Fun, Making Headlines

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