Gamma Ray Gamma Ray

Gamma Ray was originally intended as a side-project for Helloween guitarist Kai Hansen. However Hansen soon left his band to form this new band with vocalist extrodinaire Ralf Scheepers. They started out sounding very similar to Helloween but eventually found their own sound. Following 1993's Insanity and Genius, Ralf Scheepers departed to try out for Judas Priest; he didn't get the job, (too bad!) but opted to form a new band called Primal Fear (who sound a lot like Priest) rather than return to the fold, leaving Hansen to take over vocal duties since 1995. Kai and Ralph recorded a song together for the Judas Priest tribute. I didn' really discover these guys until 1998 when a friend sent me a tape of a few songs. How the heck I let them slip by, I do not know.

Heading for Tomorrow Gamma Ray - Heading for Tomorrow (Noise) 1990

1."Welcome" [instrumental] (1:00)
2."Lust for Life" (5:01)
3."Heaven Can Wait" (4:23)
4."Space Eater" (4:34)
5."Money" (3:40)
6."The Silence" (6:20)
7."Hold Your Ground" (4:48)
8."Free Time" (5:01)
9."Heading for Tomorrow" (14:30)
10."Look at Yourself" (4:42)

The first Gamma Ray album sounded very much like Helloween. Great album but very underappreciated. The title track is an excellent epic metal song. "Look at Yourself" is a Uriah Heep cover. The main riff from "Heading for Tomorrow" sounds like a Michael Schenker riff.

Heaven Can Wait Gamma Ray -Heaven Can Wait (Noise) 1990

1. "Heaven Can Wait" (4:25)
2. "Who Do You Think You Are" (5:03)
3. "Sail On" (4:23)
4. "Mr. Outlaw" (4:08)
5. "Lonesome Stranger" (4:56)

This was either a very long single for "Heaven Can Wait" or an EP with a track that also was on "Heading for Tomorrow." I had always been under the assumption that 'Heaven Can Wait' was a full length disc, that is until I received it in the mail. Regardless, this EP features four new tracks of Hansen/Scheepers heavy metal artistry. All these tracks were recorded at the same studio and around the same time as the band's first album "Heading for Tomorrow." Apparently this disc was released in order to help promote the band's 1990 tour.

Sigh No More Gamma Ray - Sigh No More (F.A.D. Records) 1991

1.   "Changes" (5:41)
2.   "Rich & Famous" (4:36)
3.   "As Time Goes By" (4:39)
4.   "(We Won't) Stop the War" (3:44)
5.   "Father and Son" (4:22)
6.   "One with the World" (4:44)
7.   "Start Running" (3:54)
8.   "Countdown" (4:17)
9.   "Dream Healer" (6:16)
10. "The Spirit" (4:16)

I've read mixed reviews about this one. Some say it's their best, others say it sucks. I like it as it still retains the Helloween, German metal style. Gone are the gang chants that Helloween used so much, but the music is more streamlined and a bit more focused, in my opinion. Track #8 ("Countdown") is not on the original cassette or vinyl release. Stupid cover art that reminds me of something the Grateful Dead might do. Found this one in a used cd store for a mere $5.99.

Insanity & Genius Gamma Ray - Insanity & Genius (Noise) 1993

1. "Tribute to the Past" (5:01)
2. "No Return" (4:04)
3. "Last Before the Storm" (4:29)
4. "Cave Principle" (6:45)
5. "Future Madhouse" (4:07)
6. "Gamma Ray" -edited version (6:30)
7. "Insanity & Genius" (4:28)
8. "18 Years" (5:23)
9. "Your Torn Is Over" (3:34)
10. "Heal Me" (7:31)
11. "Brothers" (5:13)

Kai Hansen and Ralf Scheepers' German speed metal symphony! This disc rocks supreme! If you are a power metal fan and don't own this CD then you are truly missing out.

Gamma Ray - Land of the Free (Noise) 1995

1. "Rebellion in Dreamland" (8:45)
2. "Men on a Mission" (5:57)
3. "Fairytale" (:46)
4. "All of the Damned" (5:00)
5. "Rising of the Damned" (:45)
6. "Gods of Deliverance" (5:00)
7. "Farewell" (5:12)
8. "Salvation's Calling" (4:35)
9. "Land of the Free" (4:41)
10. "The Savior" (:40)
11. "Abyss of the World" (5:59)
12. "Time to Break Free" (4:36)
13. "Afterlife" (4:43)

Very similar to "Insanity & Genius". "Land of the Free" is another exceptional German engineered heavy metal fest. To tell you the truth though I still think Gamma Ray sounds like Helloween. I'm not sure why Kai felt he couldn't express himself in Helloween. Perhaps he didn't have enough control. Who knows, but now there are two bands who's style and sound are very much the same, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Cool cover art too.

Alive '95 Gamma Ray - Alive'95 (Noise) 1995

1.   "Land of the Free" (5:28)
2.   "Man on a Mission" (5:54)
3.   "Rebellion in Dreamland" (8:23)
4.   "Space Eater" (4:44)
5.   "Fairytale" (:54)
6.   "Tribute to the Past" (4:47)
7.   "Heal Me" (7:28)
8.   "Saviour" (1:31)
9.   "Abyss of the Void" (5:53)
10.  "Ride the Sky" (5:47)
11.  "Future World" (7:30)
12.  "Heavy Metal Mania" (6:27)
13.  "Lust for Life" (6:20)
14.   "No Return" (4:01)
15.   "Changes" (5:24)
16.   "Insanity & Genius" (4:10)
17.   "Last Before the Storm" (4:12)
18.   "Future Madhouse" (4:11)
19.   "Heading for Tommorow" (8:19)

Must admit that I don't listen to this one much. It's not that it's bad, actually it's pretty darn good, it's just that I like ther their studio albums so much better. I got this one in an internet trade. (traded some peice of junk that I paid $1 for.) I've heard that there is a single disc version of this as well. "Ride the Sky" is a charged up version of the Helloween classic.

Somwhere Out in Space 2002 Reissue
Gamma Ray - Somewhere Out In Space
(F.A.D. Records) 1997
Gamma Ray - Somewhere Out in Space [expanded] (Victory/Japan) 2002

1. "Beyond the Black Hole" (6:00)
2. "Men, Martians and Machines" (3:50)
3. "No Stranger (Another Day in Life)" (3:33)
4. "Somewhere out in Space" (5:26)
5. "Guardians of Mankind" (5:01)
6. "Landing" (1:17)
7. "Valley of the Kings" (3:49)
8. "Pray" (4:43)
9. "Winged Horse" (7:02)
10. "Cosmic Chaos" (:48)
11. "Lost in the Future" (3:38)
12. "Watcher in the Sky" (5:17)
13. "Rising Star" (:52)
14. "Shine On" (6:48)
15. "Return to Fantasy" (5:12)

15. "Return to Fantasy" (5:12)
16. "Miracle" (7:16)
17. "Victim of Changes" (7:12)

Gamma Ray continue in their neo-classical, Euro-speed metal tradition with Kai Hanson's melodic vox and killer guitar work. "Somewhere Out In Space," is a concept album paying tribute to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love the way the opening track starts off with the slap bass and double bass. My copy is from Germany and contains the awesome bonus track "Return to Fantasy."

2002 saw the re-release of the entire Gamma Ray catalogue by Sanctuary in Europe and Victory in Japan. The discs are all remastered, contain new cover art and bonus tracks. When all six discs are put together they create a nice collage. Thankfully the original cover art was also included in the booklets which contains all the original liner notes, lyrics and an additional page showing the complete six disc collage. My Japanese copy also contains a booklet written in Japanese. The bonus tracks on this disc are a nice addition. "Return to Fantasy" is a fast, heavy cover of a Uriah Heep original, "Miracle" is a well-written, albeit mellow song, and "Victim of Changes" is a smokin' rendition of Judas Priest's classic with Ralf Sheepers on vocals. This track also appears on Century Media's Judas Priest tribute.

Power Plant Powerplant 2002 Reissue
Gamma Ray - Powerplant
(Noise) 1999
Gamma Ray - Powerplant [expanded] (Victory/Japan) 2002

1. "Anywhere the Galaxy" (6:35)
2. "Razorblade Sigh" (5:00)
3. "Send Me A Sign" (4:05)
4. "Strangers in the Night" (6:04)
5. "Gardens of the Sinner" (5:55)
6. "Short as Hell" (3:55)
7. "It's Sin" (4:57)
8. "Heavy Metal Universe" (5:23)
9. "Wing of Destiny" (6:24)
10. "Hand of Fate" (6:07)
11. "Armageddon" (8:44)

12. "A While In Dreamland" (4:18)
13. "Rich & Famous" (4:53)
14. "Long Live Rock 'n Roll" (3:45)

Kai Hanson and Company forge ahead in 1999, giving us more of the speed metal they have become known for. No longer can Gamma Ray be compared to Helloween, as Gamma Ray are much heavier, and more aggressive than anything Helloween has done in the last few years. This is probably my favorite Gamma Ray disc.

Disc 6 in of the 6 disc, 2002 remastered re-releases. The bonus tracks on this disc are all excellent, especially the cover of Rainbow's "Long Live Rock 'n Roll". This track also appears on Century Media's Holy Dio tribute.

Blast from the Past Gamma Ray - Blast from the Past (Sanctuary) 2000

1.   Welcome (:57)
2.   Lust for Life (5:26)
3.   Heaven Can Wait (4:30)
4.   Heading for Tomorrow (15:00)
5.   Changes (5:29)
6.   One with the World (4:50)
7.   Dream Healer (7:35)
8.   Tribute to the Past (4:46)
9.   Last Before the Storm (4:57)
10. Heal Me (7:34)

1.   Rebellion in Dreamland (8:46)
2.   Man on a Mission (5:44)
3.   Land of the Free (4:38)
4.   The Silence (6:29)
5.   Beyond the Black Hole (6:00)
6.   Somewhere Out in Space (5:27)
7.   Valley of the Kings (3:50)
8.   Anywhere in the Galaxy (6:36)
9.   Send Me a Sign (4:06)
10. Armageddon (8:50)

Blast from the Past is a two CD compilation album that contains re-recordings and remasters of past Gamma Ray songs. All the old tracks that originally had Ralf Sheepers singing on them were re-recorded with Kai Hansen singing. As well, all the instruments were re-recorded and some of the songs have slightly new arrangement. The more recent tracks were just remastered so that the entire disc flows well together. So what's the deal with this CD?

Apparently Gamma Ray decided they wanted to do an album like this, so they held a poll on their website to decide which songs would be placed one the album. With over a decade of existence and several albums, EPs, etc. under their belts, this 20-song collection is justified. What results is a fantastic listen. The newly recorded tracks are fantastic and certainly an improvement over the originals. Of course there's the nostagia factor to overcome. However, I think most fans will agree, these new recordings together make for one fantastic listen. Despite the improved production, they still manage to retain the atmosphere and mood that was present on those original recordings.

The packaging is impressive as well. Packed in a colorful, 8-panel digi pack, the 2-CD set also includes a 28-page booklets with impressive cover art, gobs of photos, lyrics, liner notes, etc. You know, all that fun stuff we enjoy going through as the music is cranking through our stereo systems. The young, MP3-stealing generation has no idea what I am talking about.

Gamma Ray - Heaven & Hell (Victor) 2001

1. "Heaven & Hell" (4:17)
2. "Solid" (4:25)
3. "Angel of Death" (6:12)

A Japanese pre-release single for "No World Order" It is essential for one reason; Gamma Ray covering one of Thin Lizzy's most underrated classics, "Angel of Death." Gotta love it!

No World Order Gamma Ray - No World Order (Metal-Is) 2001

1. "Induction" (:59)
2. "Dethrone Tyranny" (4:14)
3. "The Heart of the Unicorn" (4:46)
4. "Heaven or Hell" (4:16)
5. "New World Order" (5:00)
6. "Damn the Machine" (5:04)
7. "Solid" (4:23)
8. "Fire Below" (5:34)
9. "Follow Me" (4:43)
10. "Eagle" (6:05)
11. "Lake of Tears" (6:47)

Yet another stellar concept disc from Gamma Ray. This time 'round the theme revolves around the conspiracy theories of author Mark Brauneis. The music is less complicated this time around and there seems to be less speed metal songs. In replace there is much more passionate, albeit more basic heavy metal. Thoughts of Judas Priest and fellow German metalheads Accept and Rage spring to mind when I first heard this disc. Songs like 'The Heart of the Unicorn' and especially 'Solid' bring to mind the stylings of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton. (As a matter of fact, 'Solid' has some amazing musical similarities to 'Rapid Fire' and 'Eagle' has some similarities to 'Painkiller.') Check out the melodic lead guitar solos in 'Heaven or Hell' and see if this won't make any true headbanger smile in delight. I'd be willing to bet that this 'new' approach will earn the band some seriously bad reviews in trendy metal rags like Kerrang. However, for those of us who like serious true metal, I think Hansen has made a step in the right direction, even if it is a step back to a time when metal actually had some hooks. (thanks kmorg)

Skeletons Gamma Ray - Skeletons in the Closet (Sanctuary) 2003

1. Welcome (1:05)
2. Gardens of the Sinner (5:47)
3. Rich & Famous (5:12)
4. All of the Damned (5:00)
5. No Return (4:13)
6. Armageddon (9:24)
7. Heavy Metal Universe (7:42)
8. One With the World (4:50)
9. Dan's Solo (5:22)

1. Razorblade Sigh (4:59)
2. Heart of the Unicorn (4:42)
3. Last Before the Storm (4:38)
4. Victim of Fate (7:00)
5. Rising Star / Shine On (7:52)
6. The Silence (6:43)
7. Heaven or Hell (4:17)
8. Guardians of Mankind (5:21)
9. New World Order (8:22)
10. McTee (0:44)

"Skeletons in the Closet" is an energetic and furious live set from one of the originators of the European power metal sound, Gamma Ray. The songs were recorded over two nights, one in Strasbourg (France) and the other in Barcelona (Spain). Both the band and the crowd were full of fire, each feeding off the others energy. Gamma Ray tear through a set of mostly newer material with none of the songs appearing on the 1996 live album, "Live '95". Tracks such as the blazing "Gardens of the Sinner" and "Heart of the Unicorn", the sing-along anthem "Rich & Famous" and even the ballad "The Silence", are extremely energetic renditions. The band sounds extremely tight. As well, the sound quality is clean and clear without robbing the recording of it's live feel. The guitars are heavy, yet they sound crisp and clear, the crowd is deafening, and Kai Hansens' vocals are bright and high in the mix. "Skeletons in the Closet" is a fantastic live album and highly recommended to fans of Helloween, Gamma Ray, power metal and stellar live albums.

Majestic Gamma Ray - Majestic (Sanctuary) 2005

1. "My Temple" (4:57)
2. "Fight" (3:24)
3. "Strange World" (5:03)
4. "Hell Is Thy Home" (4:46)
5. "Blood Religion" (6:53)
6. "Condemned To Hell" (4:56)
7. "Spiritual Dictator" (5:38)
8. "Majesty" (6:23)
9. "How Long" (4:06)
10. "Revelation" (8:30)

For some reason since the release of "No World Order" I sort of lost interest in Gamma Ray. No fault of their own, but their style seems to be emulated by hundreds of European power metal bands. So, when "Majestic" was released, I didn't rush out and buy it. My mistake. Gamma Ray are not one of a handful of copies but one of the originators of a sound. The album opens up with a blast. "My Temple" straddles a fence between speed metal and power metal quite nicely. This song alone should convince skeptics that Gamma Ray aren't geezers that need to fade away into the night. This is heavy metal! The intensity doesn't let up after track one either. "Fight" is equally furious. "Strange World" slows things down a bit and indeed sound "Majestic" with the mix of heavy guitars, dual guitar solos and layered vocals. "Hell Is Thy Home" returns the band to the ultra fast speed metal of the opening track. The remainder of the album doesn't let the intensity down either. Each song is heavy, most are fast, yet they are well written and distinguishable from song to song. "How Long" is probably the least aggressive song on the album and is still a heavy, melodic rocker. Kai Hansen's vocals are as powerful as ever, as are his chops. The guitar work throughout, in both the tight riffs and the impeccable lead work are outstanding. "Majestic" stands above the pack in a scene that is full of copies.

Gamma Ray - Land of the Free II (SPV/Steamhammer) 2007

1. "Into the Storm" (3:47)
2. "From the Ashes" (5:26)
3. "Rising Again" (:27)
4. "To Mother Earth" (5:11)
5. "Rain" (5:16)
6. "Leaving Hell" (4:20)
7. "Empress" (6:22)
8. "When the World" (5:44)
9. "Opportunity" (7:14)
10. "Real World" (5:42)
11. "Hear Me Calling" (4:14)
12. "Insurrection" (11:33)

Gamma Ray are one of those bands by which other power metal bands are compared to. They were one of the originators of the modern power metal sound. Way back in 1995, Gamma Ray released their infamous "Land of the Free" album to raving reviews, especially considering the metal landscape of the 1990's. Over ten years later and Gamma Ray return with Part II of the "Land of the Free" concept. Frankly, I think that this is a cash in idea, much like Queensryche's recent attempt with "Operation: Mindcrime Pt. II" or Helloween's "Keepers...Pt. 3". The problem with this is that it will inevidibly be compared to the band's classic albums, which hold a lot of nostalgic value for most fans.

However, that is not to say the music contained herein is bad. Rather, what we have here is exactly what you would expect from Gamma Ray; fast, heavy, melodic, German power metal with tons of classic Judas Priest and Iron Maiden influences as well. The first two tracks seem to have a big influence in them. Actually, I think there are some very intentional Maiden influences on this one as well. During the song "Opportunity" I think the band may have even intentionally played tribute to Maiden as I heard bits of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" and "The Clairvoyant". Likewise, the opening riff of "When the World" has a distinct Maiden flavor. "Empress" sounds like it could have been this single off the album with a catchy melody, memorable hook and Hansen's skilled vocals. "Land of the Free" might not be able to top most Gamma Ray fan's lists, but this is most certainly a solid album from Gamma Ray.

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