GAMMA RAY
Power Metal • Germany

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Founded in 1989 by Kai Hansen in Hamburg, Germany after leaving Helloween, Gamma Ray borrowed straight from the Helloween classics, and continued to pioneer Hansen's style of power metal.

After four years with Helloween, Kai Hansen decided to leave the band at the height of their career. He then went on to do some studio work with Blind Guardian.

Kai and his friend Ralf Scheepers from Tyran' Pace decided to start a project. They recruited bassist Uwe Wessel and drummer Mathias Burchard. The resulting sound was very close to Helloween's power metal style.

The first album Heading For Tomorrow was released in 1990. Two lineup changes resulted in Uli Kusch (who would later join Helloween) becoming the bands second drummer and Dirk Schlachter becoming a new guitarist. The new lineup released the Heaven Can Wait EP.

In 1991 the band released Sigh No More, which
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Empire of the UndeadEmpire of the Undead
Eagle Rock Entertainment 2014
Audio CD$10.47
$6.74 (used)
Master of ConfusionMaster of Confusion
Import
1-2-3-4-GO! 2013
Audio CD$6.12
$9.26 (used)
Insanity & Genius/Land of the FreeInsanity & Genius/Land of the Free
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$8.20
$13.77 (used)
No World OrderNo World Order
Metal-Is Records 2003
Audio CD$6.84
$4.85 (used)
To The Metal! (CD + DVD)To The Metal! (CD + DVD)
Special Edition
Earmusic 2010
Audio CD$11.23
$7.77 (used)
MajesticMajestic
Import
Universal I.S. 2009
Audio CD$3.70
$2.90 (used)
Land Of The Free - Part IILand Of The Free - Part II
Steamhammer / SPV 2008
Audio CD$8.95
$18.17 (used)
Skeletons & MajestiesSkeletons & Majesties
EP
Eagle Records 2011
Audio CD$2.27
$1.95 (used)
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GAMMA RAY Discography

GAMMA RAY albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.83 | 22 ratings
Heading for Tomorrow
Power Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 3.99 | 19 ratings
Sigh No More
Power Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 3.61 | 21 ratings
Insanity and Genius
Power Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 4.42 | 39 ratings
Land of the Free
Power Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.43 | 33 ratings
Somewhere Out in Space
Power Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 4.07 | 29 ratings
Power Plant
Power Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 4.37 | 29 ratings
No World Order
Power Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 4.02 | 22 ratings
Majestic
Power Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 3.95 | 20 ratings
Land of the Free II
Power Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 3.60 | 15 ratings
To the Metal!
Power Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 3.99 | 3 ratings
Empire of the Undead
Power Metal 2014

GAMMA RAY EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.67 | 3 ratings
Heaven Can Wait
Power Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
Silent Miracles
Power Metal 1996
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Skeletons & Majesties
Power Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
Master of Confusion
Power Metal 2013

GAMMA RAY live albums

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 6 ratings
Alive '95
Power Metal 1996
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
Skeletons in the Closet
Power Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 4.03 | 6 ratings
Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome (And the Finnish Keyboarder Who Didn't Want to Wear His Donald Duck Costume) (live in Montreal)
Power Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Skeletons & Majesties Live
Power Metal 2012

GAMMA RAY demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

GAMMA RAY boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 3.79 | 5 ratings
Blast From the Past
Power Metal 2000

GAMMA RAY singles (5)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Who Do You Think You Are?
Power Metal 1990
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Future Madhouse
Power Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
Rebellion in Dreamland
Power Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
Valley of the Kings
Power Metal 1997
.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
Heaven or Hell
Power Metal 2001

GAMMA RAY movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
5.00 | 2 ratings
Heading for the East
Power Metal 1990
.. Album Cover
4.75 | 2 ratings
Lust for Live
Power Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
4.50 | 3 ratings
Gamma Ray - Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal
Power Metal 2008
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Skeletons & Majesties Live
Power Metal 2012

GAMMA RAY Reviews

GAMMA RAY Land of the Free II

Album · 2007 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kingcrimsonprog
Land Of The Free II, from 2007, is the ninth full-length studio album by the legendary German Melodic Power Metal band Gamma Ray. It is titled as a sequel to the band’s seminal classic album Land Of The Free, and musically it sometimes picks up a few riffs and melodies from that record and reworks them into new tracks.

This record is not held in high esteem by a lot of the band’s fans and critics. Partly that is because the idea of doing a sequel to Land Of The Free (which isn’t even a full on concept album to begin with so the need for a story sequel isn’t even necessary) after such a big gap just seems like an off-putting idea, and forever-doomed to negative comparisions to the fantastic original from the offset and secondly because the band are accused of running out of ideas.

How much you enjoy this record will depend primarily on how much you don’t mind hearing the band rework old music (or indeed nick Iron Maiden breakdowns almost wholesale and your opinion on whether it is tribute or theft). Do you enjoy a sense of familiarity or not?

If we overlook those issues, there are some absolutely blinding moments on this record, including the flashy eleven minute album-closer “Insurrection,” as well as the ridiculously catchy ode to atheism that is “Real World” and the exciting, chunky “Rain.”

Add to these strong songs, an absolutely flawless slick production, some of Kai’s most polished vocals to date and the fact that actually the band do explore some new territory here and try things at a slower pace than usual. Top it all off with the lush sing-along choruses, glorious uplifting lead guitar melodies and delicious drum fills you would expect from Gamma Ray and you have a very solid record.

Overall; historically, this album will be viewed alongside Majestic as a sort of down-point in the band’s discography, however this is very far from a bad record on its own merits and there is much enjoyment to be found here if you are willing to overlook its flaws.

GAMMA RAY Empire of the Undead

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Empire of the Undead (2014) is the eleventh full-length album by German power metal act Gamma Ray. This is a notable album for the legendary band for a couple of reasons, the first of which is that it's the first Gamma Ray album in 17 years to feature a different line-up than its predecessor, To the Metal! (2010), following the departure of Dan Zimmermann in 2012 and the introduction of Michael Ehré. This line-up made its debut with the EP Master of Confusion (2013) with Ehré drumming on the new studio tracks (both of which are featured on Empire of the Undead) and cover songs while Zimmermann was still the drummer for the live recordings featured.

More importantly though Empire of the Undead represents the often inevitable back to the roots album for Gamma Ray or to be a bit more accurate for band frontman and leader Kai Hansen. The Gamma Ray on Empire of the Undead are a rawer sounding act than many people will likely be expecting, with the music blending the usual power metal and heavy metal sounds with speed metal, a style that is often erroneously associated with Gamma Ray but was the genre that Hansen first made his name with in Helloween and their EP Helloween (1985) and debut full-length Walls of Jericho (1985). Empire of the Undead is as such quite the throwback to his roots. Although this is still a power metal record first and foremost, it's an entirely different way of going about it especially compared to To the Metal! which was much more polished.

The first three songs showcase how much Empire of the Undead can vary in mood. The opening Avalon is an epic length track that even features some light symphonic elements behind the mid-paced riffs while Hellbent is a full steam ahead power/speed metal number and Pale Rider rounds things off to sit more in the traditional metal vein. Like with most Gamma Ray albums they're at their best when keeping things simple and fast, so true to form Hellbent asserts itself as an early highlight of the record. Overall things on Empire of the Undead don't manage to stand up to earlier power metal classics like Land of the Free (1995) and Somewhere Out in Space (1997), but with further tracks like Born to Fly, the title track and I Will Return it's certainly the case that Gamma Ray continue to produce solid albums. There are a couple of weaker tracks here to my ears, namely Time for Deliverance and Demonseed but both are still good songs although without them we may have been discussing Gamma Ray's strongest effort in years.

The change of pace from To the Metal! has been an interesting experience but ultimately I can't really say I prefer one album over the other myself. They're very much on the level in terms of overall quality if not in sound. If you prefer an old school sounding record then it's clear that you'll likely enjoy Empire of the Undead hell of a lot more, and vice versa if you like something a bit more modern, but either way Empire of the Undead joins the list of Gamma Ray albums that doesn't manage to stand up to their classics, although it's still worthy of a solid 4 star rating.

82/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/gamma-ray-empire-of-the-undead-t3436.html)

GAMMA RAY Somewhere Out in Space

Album · 1997 · Power Metal
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Warthur
Having rekindled my interest in the cheesier end of power metal through my discovery of Rhapsody, I decided to give Gamma Ray another chance, but unfortunately I still find them a bit too airy and cheesy for my tastes. Kai Hansen does a decent job as band leader, guitarist and vocalist, but I just find the proceedings here to be just a little bland, offering not quite enough surprises and compositional departures from Gamma Ray's business as usual to hook me. Essentially, Gamma Ray is quite clearly Hansen's project to continue the sound he hit on with Helloween come hell or high water, and nothing's going to dissuade him from that mission... I just can't help feel that I preferred this sound when it was Helloween doing it for some reason.

GAMMA RAY Somewhere Out in Space

Album · 1997 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Somewhere Out In Space is the fifth full-length studio album from the German Power Metal band Gamma Ray. The album is a Sci-Fi/Egyptian themed concept album and like all Gamma Ray albums which preceded it, featured a change in the band’s line up, this time with the appearance of Dirk Schlächter on bass instead of guitar (who incidentally co-produced the album with band leader Kai Hansen) as well as Henjo Richter taking over the guitar spot and Dan Zimmermann playing the drums, completing a line-up which would last for a decade-and-a-half.

The album was released following up the classic Land Of The Free album, and follows on very much in the style with which that album was written. The long, slightly progressive songs are there, the Hard Rock/Hair Metal edges from their 2nd album are largely gone and the Keeper Of The Seven Keys style Power Metal is back in force.

The album serves as the perfect companion to the aforementioned Land Of The Free, and these two albums together sort of exemplify the Gamma Ray sound. Mixing the constant double kicks and speedy drumming of Thrash metal with the theater, song structures and character of Iron Maiden, the parts of Queen’s sound that would be called grandiose and majestic and basically everything else from Judas Priest.

It’s an absolutely constant array of lead guitar work, from shred to character to melody. It’s got an awful lot of character, there are a fairly good mixture of tempos, vocal approaches and riff styles and structurally the album flows together very well as a whole.

Admittedly; if you aren’t accustomed to it, at first listen this sort of thing may seem unforgivingly over-the-top and cheesy, but hopefully you should be won over by the sheer quality and enjoyable nature of the music.

Standout tracks include the brilliant ‘Men, Martians & Machines,’ the immensely fun ‘Valley Of The Kings’ and ‘Watcher In The Skies’ which features guest appearances by Iron Saviour’s Thomen Stauch and Piet Sielck.

Overall, Somewhere Out In Space is a fantastic record and if you are into Gamma Ray or Power Metal at all, then this is definitely an album you should at least consider checking out. It satisfies on a number of levels; it’s well made, well produced, it’s got a lot of variety, its musically impressive and it’s just a lot of fun as well. I highly recommend it.

GAMMA RAY Heading for Tomorrow

Album · 1990 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Heading For Tomorrow is the debut album by the legendary German Power Metal band Gamma Ray. It was released in 1990, after guitarist and primary songwriter Kai Hansen left Helloween who had released the incredibly influential Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums.

The vocals on this album are handled by Ralf Scheepers (later of Primal Fear) as opposed to Kai himself, who took over vocal duties on the band's fourth album. There are additional bass contributions on two of the tracks from Dirk Schlächter, who would later become one of the band's longest lasting members, first as the band's guitarist and later bassist.

Opening with the grand, symphonic sounding intro track `Welcome' which sets the scene for things to come, the album starts off strong, kicking into `Lust For Life' which is one of the strongest tracks on the record. Its full of memorable vocal lines, impressive lead guitar work and an interesting structure, therefore pretty much setting the template for Gamma Ray in general.

Other highlights include `Money' which has a bit of an eccentric feel, as well as the catchy `Space Eater' and `Free Time' which is a sort of out-of-place glam number that shouldn't work but does.

The album ends with a 14-minute title track that has a progressive feel and then a cover of Uriah Heep's `Look At Yourself.'

Later Gamma Ray albums would have a much more direct Queen and especially Judas Priest influence in the sound, and would go further to replicate the sound or at least spirit of Helloween's Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums, which leaves this debut in a sort of unique position in the band's catalogue. If you've only ever heard their later work it should provide an interesting contrast.

Overall; Looking For Tomorrow is a strong debut from a great band. It is a bit more eccentric and covers more ground than their later work, and its full of interesting music all the way through. If you like anything Kai has ever done, or indeed either the band's he was inspired by or that he has inspired then this is certainly worth at least giving a listen.

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