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XXX-Three Decades In Metal
Double Vinyl, Gatefold
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Xxx-Three Decades in Metal
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Kai Hansen, earMUSIC and Wacken Foundation are happy to announce the release of XXX, the first solo project album by Kai Hansen, one of the most influential guitarists and singers to emerge from Germany during the first part of the 80s. First with ground breaking band Helloween (of which Hansen is one of the founding members) and later with Gamma Ray, one of the bands that contributed to define the genre power metal, bringing it to generation of devoted fans worldwide since its first album.
XXX is, in pure Hansen tongue in cheek style, a reference to over 30 years of involvement in the world of heavy rock, as explained with the album's subtitle Three Decades in Metal.
XXX is a magical journey. It is the story of how powerful dreams can be. Dreams and passions big enough to bring a teenager from Hamburg who is in love with rock music, glam rock and the first heavy metal sounds from the practicing space in his bedroom and rehearsal rooms to the biggest stages in the world practicing, and ending up influencing and sharing the stage with the very same bands he admired in the first place.
Not strictly autobiographical, XXX is without doubt the story of Kai Hansen but it could very well represent the story of anybody who is not afraid to believe in dreams, with passion and dedication. It is the story of the ups and downs that everybody faces at some point during the journey of life: the lost and found-again friends, the glory, the tragedies and the joys.
After the achievements enjoyed by Hansen lately with Unisonic and especially Gamma Ray's recent work Empire Of The Undead, Kai Hansen has started working on the album with no precise commercial masterplan. Just playing music with the same spirit as in the very beginning. This certainly was the reason for Hansen to communicate to his label the intention of donating the first advance payment he will receive for XXX - which in the meantime was shaping into a proper album - to the Wacken Foundation. A foundation which helps and supports young hard rock and heavy metal bands for over seven years now: Musicians full of hopes and dreams, exactly as Hansen had in the beginning of the 30 years story told on this album, in the hope that one day, somebody could tell another 30 years long magic story, also thanks to this album.
Together with Hansen, a stellar band of musicians gravitating around the Chameleon Studio in Hamburg has formed spontaneously: Alex Dietz (guitar player of Heaven Shall Burn) on bass, Eike Freese (who already worked as engineer and co-producer with Hansen on the last Gamma Ray album) on guitar and phenomenal drummer Daniel Wilding (Carcass). The four will be joined by various guests, ranging from friends to followers to heroes some having played a significant part in Kai's career, some who have expressed the wish to join the project with the same spirit that is leading Kai, Alex, Eike and Daniel to create loud music with joy, freedom and determination.
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By the way Kai, if you decide to come across the pond, a Pittsburgh stop would be appreciated.
Hansen's band is also excellent, as you might expect. Seasoned pros as well.
As I put the disk on for the first time, I wondered why Kai wanted to do a solo record. He has stated that he wanted no restrictions. Which is fine, but the first few songs sound a lot like songs he might write for Gamma Ray. Nothing wrong with that; they're great songs. But the further in to the disk I got, I began to notice a lot of nifty variety was occurring. I won't spoil anything specific; I'll just say that I was very pleasantly surprised with a few turns the songs took with regard to my expectations. This is great stuff. Track-to-track songwriting quality is consistently high from beginning to end. You won't be skipping any tracks.
If you don't like Power Metal to begin with, this disk won't change your mind. But then you would have no reason to be on this page reading this review either. Kai Hansen has always had a keen ear for melody, and that hasn't changed. This is an excellent example of the genre, so if you're reading this, buy it. I don't anticipate any of you regretting your purchase.