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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Somewhere Out in SpaceSomewhere Out in Space
Extra tracks · Remastered
Noise 2003
Audio CD$99.99
$43.90 (used)
Insanity & GeniusInsanity & Genius
Noise 1998
Audio CD$39.99
$9.95 (used)
Heading for TomorrowHeading for Tomorrow
Noise International
Vinyl$44.16 (used)
Heading for the EastHeading for the East
Earmusic 2015
Audio CD$9.28
$12.13 (used)
Insanity & Genius/Land of the FreeInsanity & Genius/Land of the Free
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$6.65
$6.12 (used)
Sigh No MoreSigh No More
Earmusic 2015
Audio CD$9.27
$12.14 (used)
Empire Of The UndeadEmpire Of The Undead
Armoury Records 2014
Audio CD$10.39
$14.76 (used)
Land of the FreeLand of the Free
Noise 1998
Audio CD$39.99
$13.72 (used)
Live: Skeletons & Majesties [Blu-ray]Live: Skeletons & Majesties [Blu-ray]
Multiple Formats · Blu-ray · Import
Ais 2013
Blu-ray$18.17
$10.92 (used)
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GAMMA RAY Discography

GAMMA RAY albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.94 | 28 ratings
Heading for Tomorrow
Power Metal 1990
.. Album Cover 3.89 | 23 ratings
Sigh No More
Power Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 3.67 | 25 ratings
Insanity and Genius
Power Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 4.33 | 46 ratings
Land of the Free
Power Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.35 | 41 ratings
Somewhere Out in Space
Power Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 4.12 | 33 ratings
Power Plant
Power Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 4.23 | 34 ratings
No World Order
Power Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 3.78 | 25 ratings
Majestic
Power Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 3.81 | 23 ratings
Land of the Free II
Power Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 3.64 | 19 ratings
To the Metal!
Power Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 3.85 | 9 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 4.33 | 3 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 3.80 | 6 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
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rebellion in Dreamland
Power Metal 1995
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Valley of the Kings
Power Metal 1997
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 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 Heading for Tomorrow

Album · 1990 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
And then suddenly and unexpectedly Kai Hansen left Helloween after their two triumphant metal hits comprising “The Keeper Of The Seven Keys Parts I & II,” for reasons that are still a mystery to this date. Whatever the reason, Hansen left Helloween and started his own power metal band GAMMA RAY and after some studio work with Blind Guardian, rounded up his old peeps Ralf Scheepers (vocals), Uwe Wessel (bass) and Mathias Burchardt (drums) and created an album that is extremely reminiscent of the Helloween years but due to the major heaping of other influences manages to separate itself from those albums on the debut HEADING FOR TOMORROW, which is an aptly named title for it essentially shows exactly which elements of Helloween were the product of Hansen’s involvement and also allows for some significant changes.

I would say that HEADING FOR TOMORROW has a whole range of influences on board with the majority being the predictable Helloween, but there is also a strong Judas Priest and Queen influences going on here as well. This is the first album that i noticed that Queen was a major influence on the whole power metal sub-genre with all kinds of Freddie Mercury inspired vocalizations all operatic and such with all those eclectic “A Night Of The Opera” type musical time sig changes that are quite frequently utilized in abundance here and beyond into the whole sub. There is also a strong tie to 70s heavy prog giants Uriah Heep with the most obvious being the cover “Look At Yourself” which features Mischa Gerlach as a guest keyboardist. Excellent cover of a track from one of my favorite early 70s albums.

“Welcome” is a great symphonic opener which ushers in the energetic “Lust For Life” which immediately brings Helloween to mind but not quite feeling like a clone. Kinda strange actually. Obviously lots of Helloween sounds here but there are other influences as well.

“Money” starts off kinda like a Judas Priest song but adds elements of Queen fairly soon after the two minute mark.

“The Silence” is a nice melodic ballad that has kind of an Aerosmith “Dream On” feel but is on a different level. The vocals, the symphonics and instruments all collaborate to create a very nice number that some may find cheesy but personally i find very well crafted. Of course there is that Brain May guitar thing going on in the harmony department but it is so well done that i just don’t care.

“Hold Your Ground” starts out in an energetic speed metal fashion but clearly has a classical kind of feel going. Melodic, well-paced with a Queen tinged vocal delivery. A very satisfying power metal track that ends in a Mozart-esque “Eine Kleine Nachmusik” riff.

“Freetime” glam metal kinda reminds me of Poison actually but not as irritating! Power chords, glam metal groove and Steelheart type of high vocal range. Not my fave of the album but a notch above the influences.

The title track starts out as total Queen plagiarism. Compare the intro to “The Prophet’s Song” from “A Night At The Opera” and you can only agree that there are many parts of this 14:30 length track that are taken from that song, however the saving grace is that despite these blatant ripoff parts there is plenty of innovative parts including Helloween type segments that save this from total Queen plagiarism but the few parts that sound way too much like Queen which are disheartening for sensitive ears. Although these influences are ridiculously obvious, i find this to be a very tasteful use of them and there is not one moment on this album that i am turned off.

For a debut HEADING FOR TOMORROW is actually quite well done and although is not the pinnacle of GAMMA RAY’s prowess of power metal performances is still a fine listen that i can put on any time and really enjoy hearing. Every musical aspect is at full force and as mentioned previously only the blatant borrowing of ideas from the greats of the past are the weak link here, but even so, the influences are from the best of the best and quite well executed if not well obfuscated. Enjoyable album

GAMMA RAY Power Plant

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kingcrimsonprog
Gamma Ray, the legendary German Melodic Power Metal band fronted by the immensely talented Kai Hansen (Founding member of Helloween, member of Iron Saviour & Unisonic, guest contributor to Angra, Blind Guardian, Primal Fear, Hammerfall, Avantasia and all around fingers-in-many-pies mainstay of the Power Metal scene) really came in to their own with their classic fourth studio album Land Of The Free. They had always been great, but something about that 1995 masterpiece really just elevated them even higher. For me, the three albums that followed maintain that high standard. Most fans will be very familiar with Somewhere Out In Space and the popular No World Order albums. It seems that piggy-in-the-middle record, Powerplant is a bit more overlooked, or in other words underrated.

The album opens with ‘Anywhere In The Galaxy’ which is unquestionable, pure classic Gamma Ray. This sort of song is the reason people love this band. Elsewhere there is the fun tribute to Manowar ‘Heavy Metal Universe’ (filled with constant lyrical references, and musically based on ‘The Gods Made Heavy Metal’) which is great fun. There’s variety with a Pet Shop Boys cover (‘It’s a Sin’), a commercial sounding tune (‘Send Me A Sign’) and a lengthy progressively inclined number (‘Armageddon.’)

The production is a little flatter than the albums which surround it, and sonically it doesn’t perhaps pop out as much, but the songwriting and performances are spot on. ‘Wings Of Destiny,’ ‘Razorblade Sigh’ and the aforementioned gem ‘Anywhere In The Galaxy’ are memorable, melodic ragers that would stand proud on any other Gamma Ray record.

Overall; this album sees Gamma Ray in the middle of a great run of high quality albums. It maybe doesn’t get talked about as much as some other albums but you’ll be damn grateful to have it in your collection once you’ve given it a chance.

GAMMA RAY Empire of the Undead

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Gamma Ray-Empire of the Undead

'Empire of the Undead' is the eleventh studio album by power metal band Gamma Ray. This is a 2014 album I forgot to review, and I'm kind of surprised seeing as Gamma Ray is one of my favorite power metal bands. You know they mean business when the album opens up with a 9-minute epic 'Avalon', which starts the album off strong. In typical epic fashion, it slowly builds up before really rocking. I absolutely adore the chorus in this song, it's so melodic and beautiful.

After that amazing epic, 'Hellbent' soon comes speeding in. This track reminds me a lot of Painkiller-era Judas Priest, other then the chorus. I love Gamma Ray's choruses, they really create a great balance between melodic and powerful speed. The next song 'Pale Rider' has an awesome bridge, probably one of my favorites on the album. The title track is my favorite song on the album, instantly beginning with speedy riffing and Kai Hansen's vocals really complimenting the instrumentation. 'Demonseed' is another one of my favorites, having a nice combination of more traditional heavy metal and thrash elements. The guitars have a great crunch, the drums keep a great beat, and Hansen's vocals are especially strong on this track. The bridge is very beautiful, with softer guitar work and softer vocals. 'Seven' is yet another favorite, having a great combination of speed and melody. Add in the crazy solo this song has, and you have greatness. The albums closes very well with the finale 'I Will Return'. It basically sums up everything else on the album, combining all of the elements the album contains.

Overall, this album shows that Gamma Ray can still rock after 25 years. It's fast, melodic, consistent, and everything else needed in a Power metal album. Even though not my favorite Gamma Ray album, this is a great addition for any Power metal collection.

Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!

GAMMA RAY Land of the Free II

Album · 2007 · Power Metal
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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)

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2 months ago
It's just that for me Kai's vocals are a part of what makes Gamma Ray what they are. I know he wasn't the singer until Land of the Free, but that was 20 years ago. I can't imagine him sharing the role with anyone.
Vim Fuego wrote:
2 months ago
Well, Helloween replaced Hansen on vocals. And I suppose that's what gave us Gamma Ray!
Unitron wrote:
2 months ago
Hansen has been vocalist for so long, I'm not sure how easy it will be to get used to another vocalist. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
2 months ago
Gamma Ray have introduced a new second lead vocalist alongside Kai Hansen. I'm really not sure how I feel about that.

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