Gaia Epicus - Damnation
Epicus Records
Power Metal
9 songs (43:42)
Release year: 2008
Gaia Epicus, Epicus Records
Reviewed by Goat

Although currently a single-manned project, Gaia Epicus has suffered a good number of setbacks over the years, including an acrimonious split from their former label Sound Riot Records and the death of bassist Yngve Hanssen in a car crash in 2005. Despite it all, frontman and guitarist Thomas Christian Hansen soldiers on, releasing albums on his own label and getting acclaimed artist J.P. Fournier to again create the cover art, this being the band’s fourth album. Initial listens aren’t quite as favourable as one would expect, considering Gaia Epicus were formed in 1992 a bit more originality seems preferable to the sickly mixture of Gamma Ray and Megadeth that you get here. By the time you’ve got through the slightly dull eight-minute-plus opening title track, seeming curiously restrained for what should rip, meandering weakly through prog-power territory and featuring the ropiest vocals from Hansen on the album (there’s a laughable bit of ‘atmospheric’ narrative) there’s a fair chance that you won’t want to continue.

Fortunately, the songwriting recovers somewhat after that, Masters Of The Sea kicking off with better riffs and a catchy singalong chorus, and following track Firestorm being a classic Power Metal anthem about global warming that turns nicely Thrashy towards the end with a neat Dream Theateresque keyboard solo. Instrumental The Wizard’s Return is a simply kickass Heavy Metal instrumental, but I hope Dave Mustaine never gets to hear You Are A Liar. It’s clearly a tribute of sorts to the So Far, So Good... So What! Song (Hansen’s voice takes on a Mustainean sneer, for one) and whilst the added keyboard presence does make it just about worthy of being heard in its own merits, it is rather spoilt by the awful ‘liar, liar, pants on fire!’ line. Cyborgs On Fire has one of those increasingly clichéd ‘metal machines’ themes but makes up for it with some nicely Ragey riffing and widdly soloing, a path also followed by the speedy The Saviour (Will Come).

The album finishes off with a couple of decent songs in the form of A Hero In All and Salvation Is Here, both with catchy choruses and pleasant riffing. Alas, as good as the songwriting can be it never is quite good enough to make this a must-have, although instrumentally, all is fine, Hansen riffing hard and session drummer Ole Alexander Myrholt beating the drums into submission. There are a plethora of guest soloists including Helloween/Masterplan's Roland Grapow, all of whom do a fine job. As good as Damnation can be, it’s held back by the poor opening track and the fact that you’ve heard it all before. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the band this can safely be skipped.

Killing Songs :
Masters Of The Sea, The Wizard’s Return, Cyborgs From Hell
Goat quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Gaia Epicus that we have reviewed:
Gaia Epicus - Victory reviewed by Crims and quoted 78 / 100
Gaia Epicus - Satrap reviewed by Chris and quoted 75 / 100
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