GAMMA RAY — Somewhere Out in Space (review)

GAMMA RAY — Somewhere Out in Space album cover Album · 1997 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Mjöllnir
Following up Land of the Free wasn't going to be easy. While Kai had finally pulled it together, a significant line-up change had occured in the wake of the album's tour. It ended up being nothing to worry about as the new musicians gelled perfectly and have stayed with the band ever since, for better or worse. Despite a production which leaves the material feeling thin and lacking a certain charge, Somewhere Out in Space is another fine Gamma Ray offering. Henjo Richter (guitars) and Dan Zimmerman (drums) make their mark very evident early into the album, which helps propell the songs onward in a defiant charge (power metal indeed!). Beyond the Black Hole is an incredible opener, laying down the GR cards firmly on the table with its combination of melody, rollicking riffs and grandiose approach to songwriting.

Kai has never been tempted to swerve from his continuing the style he helped pioneer in Helloween, but with this mid period Gamma Ray he refines it so much it ceases to matter. Most of the tracks are standard heavy metal fare but carefully put together with lush presentation. The start, title track and climactic ending to the album give us a little bit more, leaning on the progressive "lite" approach of the best old Helloween. The album as a whole is weakened during the middle, starting with the corny ballad "Pray" (and Farwell on the previous album was so good as well...), moving through the bland The Winged Horse, a throwaway drum solo and the far too abrasive (in the album's context) Lost in the Future. After all that we're treated to a preview of Kai's side project Iron Savior with the track Watcher in the Sky, but I find that drab and uneventful as well.

Even with that problematic patch, Somewhere Out in Space is still slap bang in the middle of the band's best years, and it shows.
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