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3.83 | 34 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1990

Filed under Power Metal


1. Welcome (0:57)
2. Lust for Life (5:19)
3. Heaven Can Wait (4:28)
4. Space Eater (4:34)
5. Money (3:38)
6. The Silence (6:24)
7. Hold Your Ground (4:49)
8. Free Time (4:56)
9. Heading for Tomorrow (14:31)
10. Look at Yourself (4:45)

Total Time: 54:26


- Ralf Scheepers / vocals
- Kai Hansen / guitars, additional vocals
- Uwe Wessel / bass
- Mathias Burchardt / drums

- Mischa Gerlach / keyboards
- Dirk Schlächter (tracks 5, 6) / bass
- Tommy Newton (track 8) / guitars
- Tammo Vollmers (track 3) / drums

About this release

Release date: February 19, 1990
Label: Sanctuary Records Group

The Japanese version contains the following bonus track: "Mr. Outlaw" (4:10)

The album was reissued as limited edition digipack in 2002 which contained three bonus tracks:

11. Mr. Outlaw (4:10)
12. Lonesome Stranger (4:58)
13. Sail On (4:25)

Thanks to Time Signature, rushfan4, adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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
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.
Time Signature

Genre: power metal / traditional heavy metal / hard rock / glam metal

Although is is not the strongest album out there, it is easy to see what happened to the important creative force that Helloween lost when Kai Hansen left the band - and it did take them a long time to recover from that loss. Anyway, "Heading for Tomorrow" is a strange, yet refreshing, ecclectic affair which is difficult to pinpoint genrewise. While there are a lot of power metal elements, I think that a lot of the songs draw a lot on traditional heavy metal and hard rock - such as "Heaven Can Wait", "Space Eater" the Deep Purple-like "Look at Yourself", and the Queen-like "Heading for Tomorrow", while others like "Free Time" are kind of glam metallish. The ballads "The silence", "Lonesome Stranger" and "Sail On" are a bit too cheesy for me, although all three tracks contain some nice parts.

Stand-out tracks for me are the "Money" and "Hold Your Ground", both of which seem to be parodies of neoclassical heavy metal, the musical quality being as high as with those artists that they parodize.

Members reviews

In 1989 Kai Hansen left Helloween, at the height of their success. Arguably the most important member (and co-founder) of the extremely successful and historical european power metal band, at the time it was quite inconceivable that he would abandon his child, right after the worldwide success of the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums.

Yet, citing personal problems, that it did not feel fun anymore, with rumours that he did not get along with Michael Weikath that much, he did just that. In a short time he started working on his next project, Gamma Ray. The idea, as articulated in interviews of the time, was to take the Keeper of the Seven Keys sound a step further, "taking it to the 21st century". Joining him in this effort was Ralf Scheepers, of the band Tyran' Pace, handling the vocals. A very impressive set of pipes and a style suited for Kai's music,. ie the Kiske/Tate/Halford style. Uwe Wessel on bass (nice, warm player), Matthias Burchardt on drums (excellent and definitely not cliche - the main problem of the genre's players) completed the line-up. Kai Hansen handled all guitars and a couple of vocal lines as well. Finally, on the (beautiful) ballad The Silence, we see the first appearance of Dirk Schlachter, the band's later guitarist who even more later switched to his original instrument, the bass.

The album begins with Welcome, a beautiful semi-epic intro of the Helloween-variety (think Initiation and Invitation from the Keepers), where violins and a nice guitar melody lead to a single note that explodes into Lust for Life, the album's true opener. A speed/power metal dynamite, the song showcases the band's strengths and intentions. Very good musicianship, tight playing, tons of melodies, an aura of that particular Kai Hansen optimism throughout and a MAGNIFICENT solo (see 3:30 for the part I kept rewinding to for my fix of chills down the spine). An excellent song that indeed seems like the next logical step after the Keeper of the Seven Keys. And may I add, quite more inspiring than then awfully bland Pink Bubbles Go Ape from Helloween (their first post-Kai effort).

The same speed and power can be found in Hold Your Ground, which also features a playful, classically inspired verse until it erupts to a very impressive pre-chorus, where the underlying guitar lick accentuates the riff perfectly. Another grand chorus and an amazing bridge, where the sound also evokes memories from the 70s (Deep Purple perhaps?) before the fire of the solo. An equally playful, classically inspired finale marks the end of another great song.

The Silence, as mentioned, is an epic ballad, one of Kai's best in my opinion, where Ralf's vocals shine through. Very tasty bridge in the middle, with acoustic guitars blending with the bass nicely, leading to yet another magnificent solo, which in turn leads to the natural epic finale. Truly a great song.

Greatest and grandest of them all however, is the 13 minute epic "Heading for Tomorrow". Unlike the Helloween epics from the Keepers (Halloween and Keeper of the Seven Keys), this song does not have a narrative, full of changes structure. It rather follows a quite straight-forward rock structure: verse-chorus x2 - solo - bridge - finale. But it takes its time at every part, especially the solo. The main part is based on a lovely riff, very similar to the Victim of Changes riff. But the similarity ends there, as the vocals of the song really give it its own identity and it is a really epic and touching one. While the lyrics themselves might not really be anything unique (a cynic might even call them "lame") but the songwriting makes up for that. In fact, not only the songwriting but the whole album itself. Remember, here is an album by a man who abandoned his extremely successful band because he could not "breathe" artistically or (as the rumours go) socially. That meant also abandoning the guaranteed cash-flow of the pumpkin success and practically starting over. That in itself, is a very strong statement and the music reflects this air of relief, optimism and looking forward. Or in short, Heading for Tomorrow. Nowhere is this more evident than in the solo section of the song. For five minutes Kai Hansen plays over a quiet, atmospheric part, with a very impressive touch and feel, that owes much to Gilmour for example (the Pink Floyd influence can also be glimpsed on Heal Me, which is on Insanity & Genius - Gamma Ray's third album). Indeed, very beautifully played, the solo shifts gears and introduces the power metal bridge until the glorious finale.

Now for the weird stuff: Money, which also features Kai Hansen's vocals in the bridge (oh, had I missed them so!) is a rather bold little song, with a groovy riff and a "crazy" feel, which expresses the band's sentiments on the subject. Again, the "german" lyrics are easily overshadowed by the overall feel of the album and the sincerity of Kai's own career choices. I personally love this song, which also highlights the band's desire to try different things, something they would further develop in the next two releases (Sigh No More and Insanity and Genius) and sadly abandon after the tremendous success of Land of the Free.

Space Eater was the single and video-clip of the album. A very catchy, very straight beat leads to a semi-psychedelic verse (accentuating the theme of the song - drug use). The vocals steal the show on this number, particularly in the bridge section ("dude goes HIGH man!" as a friend put it so eloquently).

For fans of the lighter side of Kai Hansen (think Future World or I Want Out), you can try Heaven Can Wait. Personally, I find the song too happilly naive for my tastes (unlike the aforementioned Helloween classics) but it was a major hit in Japan (surprise there!) and warranted an EP of the same name a few months later.

Freetime, the only composition by someone other than Kai Hansen (Scheepers in fact) is the only song I skip. It's a little rock tune, with a rather silly chorus, nothing much to see here.

The whole package is wrapped up (on the CD) by a very well done cover of Uriah Heep's Look At Yourself. One of Kai's favourite bands (later the band also did Return to Fantasy).

At the beginning Noise Records promoted the album as "Kai Hansen's Gamma Ray" and even enclosed the (vinyl) album in a white sleeve with that very inscription. Did not do much good for the sales, since Helloween (although they released two crappy albums in succession) always sold better than Gamma Ray.

On a much more personal note, this is an album I really, really love very much. At the time I had not really realized what it meant for Helloween to lose Kai Hansen and I first bought Pink Bubbles Go Ape (in 1991) and thoroughly regretted it (we are talking huge disappointment here - imagine after the Keepers...) and only gave Gamma Ray a chance later. I cannot really express how happy I was to find the missing strand of brilliance that I lost after the Keepers. More importantly, the whole stance kept by Kai Hansen at the time, looking forward instead of back, never badmouthing his old bandmates (even though there were apparently plenty of reasons), really inspired me. This is an album that is very sincere and although there are parts of it that leave something to be desired (some lyrics, "coolness" factor perhaps - see photo insert!), overall this is a pretty brilliant power metal album. Most people know Gamma Ray with Kai Hansen behind the microphone. If you are a fan of the genre (european power metal that is), you need this album in your collection. I actually put it to you that you need all Scheepers-era Gamma Ray albums, starting with this one. Kai Hansen is the de facto founder of the genre and here he is in top form, in the middle of his golden years (1985-1995).

Ratings only

  • GWLHM76
  • sepozzsla
  • SilentScream213
  • kalacho
  • MorniumGoatahl
  • luanpedi
  • TheHeavyMetalCat
  • Beyonder
  • powermetal2000
  • DippoMagoo
  • Unitron
  • KatiLily
  • Psydye
  • adg211288
  • abdulbashur
  • jsorigar
  • albertobevi
  • Rendref
  • jose carlos
  • 666sharon666
  • silversaw
  • Zargus
  • IndianaJones
  • Tlön
  • bratus
  • mickemupp
  • irregardlessly
  • Anster
  • flowerpower

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