Getting Into: Gamma Ray

Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 23.12.2007
With these "Getting Into" articles I will present a fair, full description of a band's discography of studio albums with a clear rating out of five, as a way of aiding people that want to get into such bands but do not know where to start, as usually reviews have different authors and are written at different points in time - so this is a clear guide of how to get into the band in question.

Gamma Ray
Power Metal
Germany

Gamma Ray have always been one of the front bands of the European power metal scene and have always given the fans what they want in the form of solid, fast, powerful and catchy albums throughout the years. Once you have heard Gamma Ray you will never forget them, so many catchy hooks and choruses and songs to make you smile. If you are new to Gamma Ray this article will arm you will all the knowledge you need to start in the right places, or if you are an old fan; interest can still be found in reading this overview of one of the best bands of the genre from another person's perspective.


Heading For Tomorrow (1990)

As founding member of Helloween and arguably creating this subgenre we now know as power metal, Kai Hansen did the unthinkable and left his creation, Helloween, after the release of the second part of the "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" album due to differing opinions concerning money and the direction of the band. In 1990 before Helloween release their follow-up to the legendary double album "Heading For Tomorrow" is released and hailed by some to be the true follow-up to the "Keeper..." albums. In reality maybe the album is not quite at the standard of those albums, however it still undoubtedly has songs on it that require brutal head trauma to get them out. Gamma Ray in this earlier form are a little more traditional heavy metal than Helloween but still has the double bass stompers of "Hold Your Ground", the fun songs with "Money" and fifteen minute epics such as the title track. A vital part to your Gamma Ray collection.

Sigh No More (1991)

"Sigh No More" doesn't deviate far from the band's debut in just about all aspects. Still with the more heavy sound to them we have another album of high quality. "Rich And Famous" still a favourite today and so many more memorable songs such as "(We Won't) Stop The War", "One With The World" and the superb "The Spirit" to close the album. This album is however lacking in originality when compared to the first album, but this still does not take much away from it when both albums are so enjoyable.





Insanity & Genius (1993)

Moving on into 1993 and "Insanity & Genius" moves slightly away from the more solid, heavy sound of the first two albums and more towards the archetypal power metal consisting of continuous double bass and super catchy choruses. This is the last album with Ralf Scheepers, now of Primal Fear, singing and of course he delivers on this album as he always does. This album provides a little more variety with tracks such as "Heal Me", but by far the true highlights of this album are "No Return" and "Last Before The Storm"; these two are still two of the catchiest and best songs the band has produced over the years.

Land Of The Free (1995)

Generally considered to be one of the best Gamma Ray albums "Land Of The Free" marks the point where Kai Hansen took the brave decision to carry on singing lead vocals by himself after his voice had grown and improved immensely since the first Helloween releases. This album can be used as a reference as to what power metal is it is so typical in its ways. The album has many classics; "Man On A Mission" and "Gods Of Deliverance" for example, and even Michael Kiske guests with lead vocals on the swaggery "Time To Break Free". The album's reputation may be a little misleading, this is not the best Gamma Ray album so do not be put off if you didn't find it exactly to your taste; but the band were biting at the heels of their finest years and this is unquestionably a great album.






Somewhere Out In Space (1997)

Enter Dan Zimmerman and seemingly a whole bunch of inspiration and ideas with him. This album marks the beginning of the best years Gamma Ray have had with fifth album "Somewhere Out In Space". A spacey themed album, probably influenced by Kai's involvement with the new Iron Savior project, and a new, faster drummer changes the sound of the band. Not a bad track on the album can be found as we gallop from start to finish at lightspeed. The title track, "Valley Of The Kings", "The Winged Horse", "Shine On", so many tracks can be considered classics. This is now true modern power metal as it should be. You will be singing these songs for a long long time, it is impossible to resist the positive feelings you get from the album; the super fast double bass drumming and Kai's brilliant singing makes this one of the band's best albums and an essential for your collection.

Power Plant (1999)

"Power Plant" keeps the momentum from the previous album galloping along at full speed. It is very similar to the previous album, which raises originality issues if you care about that; but if you have heard either album you know that it is not a problem at all. The albums, just as the previous contains so many classics and favourites that never leave the band's live setlist. "Gardens Of The Sinner" and "Heavy Metal Universe" just beg to be sung along to, and we have the fantastic "Armageddon" at nearly ten minutes long to close the album. All the band members do a fantastic job, and we even have a cover of the Pet Shop Boys "It's A Sin" to top things off. This, and the previous album really are classics in the whole power metal genre.





No World Order (2001)

Momentum is yet again carried forward into "No World Order" which along with the previous two albums battles for the title of the best Gamma Ray album, but a conclusive best album will probably never be decided. "Dethrone Tyranny" kicks us off into hyper speed and is followed up by the rest of the album to do the talking. "Heaven Or Hell" another live favourite and plenty more classics finishing with the beautiful "Lake Of Tears" makes this album the last of the magic three best albums the band produced. "No World Order" does not have its foot on the accelerator all the way through, the album has a little more of a heavy touch to it compared to the last few which is gladly received. Gamma Ray show off a slightly more mature side on this album, which also makes this essential for your collection.

Majestic (2005)

A long wait for a new studio album and "Majestic" is what we get. Most of the elements that make a good power metal album are here; we have super fast drumming, a talented singer and band, but something is missing with this album that unfortunately made it a bit of a letdown at the time, although the album does still have a good quality to it. The catchy choruses are not as prominent, the album seems less and less original and just generally lacks the same power metal spirit the previous albums had. Still, the album has its moments, "Fight" and "How Long" are both brilliant songs, it is just the general picture of the album and also the expectations raised from previous albums that help let this album down.





Land Of The Free II (2007)

The latest offering from these German stars of power metal is a continuation from their 1995 album and so expectations were high, but the album is both an improvement from "Majestic" but also suffers from some of the same drawbacks the previous album had also. It is a different band from when the original "Land Of The Free" was written and recorded and so this is not so much in the same vein as that, but the album does share a boost of inspiration the band seemed to find in 1995 as well. A good few of the tracks on this album should pass the test of time and should also sound great live; this is definitely an improvement from "Majestic" but the album does still lack originality and in more of an obvious way than before which will put some people off. Fans of the band will rejoice with this album as this is more of a return to a better form compared to the comparatively duller "Majestic". This is a good album but there are other Gamma Ray albums that your attention should be given to first.

---

Overview

Gamma Ray have always been one of the very top power metal acts in the world with their heavy and straight German style, and it doesn't look like they will be going anywhere for a while. The trio of "Somewhere Out In Space", "Power Plant" and "No World Order" should be where your attention goes first, but the quality does not stop there by any means. If you find yourself preferring the first four albums, you will also be interested in the "Alive '95" live album, which includes a good mix of the best songs from those albums. "Skeletons In The Closet" is a double live album that will be on interest to any big Gamma Ray fan with it's perfect production and feel of a grand occasion to bring the songs to life even more. Gamma Ray will appeal to any person interested in the genre, so if you are new to the world of power metal then these are a perfect future favourite band of yours.

Written by Barry Anderson


 



Written on 23.12.2007 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More articles by Baz Anderson ››




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Stalker - 23.12.2007 at 20:46  
Oh, this is nice. Nice explanations for this great band!
Bararey - 23.12.2007 at 21:32  
Hey, Land of the Free II deserves another pumpkin

I thought it was more than an improvement compared to Majestic.
But yeah overall I have to agree that Gamma Ray's releases are very enjoyable
RhaegarTargaryen - 23.12.2007 at 22:28  
Good review, and I mostly agree with album marks, I think it's a good guide for someone who's new into Gamma Ray.
selken - 23.12.2007 at 22:37  
I am into GR a lot time ago, but the article is very interesting, a I agree with every letter but the rating for LoTF2, it deserves another pumpkin as bararey said. Good article.
Talvi - 23.12.2007 at 23:33  
I still think Land of The Free it's their best, but I've been quite bored of Power Metal recently so don't take so seriously my opinion.
Ellrohir - 23.12.2007 at 23:54  
i have right finished listening Powerplant and i think this is their best job so far
Damnated - 24.12.2007 at 00:03  
i honestly don't see the point of this article. i mean, i understand that you're trying to help noobs get into Gamma Ray, but don't you think that it is quite easy to get into this kinda metal, especially when were talking about huge bands such as Gamma Ray?

congrats for writing it and all, but why not write these about relatively big bands that aren't that well known? just an idea..
Opium - 25.12.2007 at 00:15  
Wow, the ratings are totally messed up, Insanity and Genius should be much higher. Powerplant is average as hell, same goes for everything else with Kai on vocals. Of course, this is just my opinion and I don't like Kai's vocals at all, although the music behind it all is enjoyable, to a degree.

Nice try though.
Spyroid - 25.12.2007 at 01:33  
Written by Damnated on 24.12.2007 at 00:03

i honestly don't see the point of this article. i mean, i understand that you're trying to help noobs get into Gamma Ray, but don't you think that it is quite easy to get into this kinda metal, especially when were talking about huge bands such as Gamma Ray?

congrats for writing it and all, but why not write these about relatively big bands that aren't that well known? just an idea..


I kind of agree with you. I have nothing against this, and I can see why you wrote it - it must have been a lot fun
But I would really like to see more of this with relatively unknown bands! And a lot of it! Because there are so many bands I haven't gotten into, it would be great with a pretty objective conclusion with career highlights and stuff about as many bands as possible =)


About your article Baz I mostly agreed with you, except that I prefer Majestic way above LotFII. Nice reading though
Jari - 25.12.2007 at 13:42  
I also agree that Majestic is better than LOTFII, majestic 4,5 and lotfII only 3. And yes, i also think you should write from more unknown bands, how about Running Wild
Lucas - 25.12.2007 at 15:17  
Written by Spyroid on 25.12.2007 at 01:33

But I would really like to see more of this with relatively unknown bands! And a lot of it! Because there are so many bands I haven't gotten into, it would be great with a pretty objective conclusion with career highlights and stuff about as many bands as possible =)


What is keeping you from writing your own? I am sure there is some relatively unknown band that you know well enough to write such an article..
RhysTerk - 25.12.2007 at 17:41  
Great.
In my opinion Land of the Free II is one of their greatest albums, especially the song "In The Storm"
Keep up the fantastic work and keep banging
wrathchild - 25.12.2007 at 19:05  
I'm the only one who loves Sigh No More
But it is indeed not the best album to get into Gamma Ray.
Bad English - 25.12.2007 at 21:15  
Im not band of fun, but read such article are great, but still I dont like band
Spyroid - 26.12.2007 at 00:25  
Written by Lucas on 25.12.2007 at 15:17

Written by Spyroid on 25.12.2007 at 01:33

But I would really like to see more of this with relatively unknown bands! And a lot of it! Because there are so many bands I haven't gotten into, it would be great with a pretty objective conclusion with career highlights and stuff about as many bands as possible =)


What is keeping you from writing your own? I am sure there is some relatively unknown band that you know well enough to write such an article..


Haven't thought about it :O And maybe it would feel too much like I stole the idea. I guess I'll talk to Baz first.
ThunderAxe1989 - 27.12.2007 at 03:26  
I couldn't tell you from my point of view what is the best Gamma Ray Album to be honest, but I own No World Order ..........
BurbotsRevenge - 27.12.2007 at 10:16  
i like the idea, but i still cant see me getting into this band, maybe you could do one on hypocrisy...
CrimsonSoaked - 29.12.2007 at 12:22  
Thank you Barry Andersson
Good summary of the great power metal band. I must keep those three albums in mind when I'm gonna buy my next Gamma Ray album.
Until this day I believed that the "Land of the Free" was the best.
Guess you learn something every day.
BORT - 31.12.2007 at 11:12  
Majestic rocked :p
Bad English - 14.01.2008 at 00:09  
If New Words Order are best what are others damn I own it and I dont lsitening it, maybe early are more for me, now im comfused, seems first 3 are lil diefernt
Raiden - 22.01.2008 at 17:15  
@Damnated and Spyroid: K7's post perfectly justifies the reason for Barry's article. Sure, he's talking about a band that is known by a lot of people, but even those of us that are familiar with Gamma Ray can get something out of it. K7 here now knows that he should perhaps check out their earlier stuff. You say that it would be useful to "noobs" and it would, but not everyone has the whole Gamma Ray discography. And the whole Land Of The Free vs. Somewhere Out In Space/Powerplant issue raised is another great example. Now maybe people will find a different favourite Gamma Ray album. Just look at CrimsonSoaked's post for proof.

So the article is obviously not as useless as you think... And as Nervel said, you're welcome to make your own articles about bands, illustrating their discographies. They can be as underground as you like.
Inlé - 29.01.2008 at 13:15  
As has been said, what if people want to ditch the whole "flower metal is ghey" thing and try out something new? Seriously though if you're branching out into another genre, then having a detailed guide on one of the big bands will help people a lot. For a start it'll tell them which albums they might like to start with, and I reckon that's pretty much the point of this... Just because you may know what's in the article, it doesn't make it useless to other people by default...

Anyway. Yeah, a very in depth article Barry, It seems like you've put much time into it and I agree with your ratings pretty much completely. "Somewhere...", "Powerplant" and "No World Order" are my favourites too.
tomjim - 27.07.2008 at 12:31  
Very well written article, totally agree with ti
ponderer - 27.10.2008 at 18:56  
Great fucking article Baz! Gamma Ray own. IMO Tribute to the Past is one of the all time great metal songs. The version with Ralf doing main vocals from Insanity and Genius is epic. Nicely done!
Dark Seraphim - 25.11.2008 at 05:55  
Brilliant article Baz. I own all the Gamma Ray albums but would have loved to have had something like this when I got into them. Made for great reading thou. By the way, Land of the Free will always be my fav!!
Baz Anderson - 13.01.2009 at 22:13  
All the pumpkins have been put back into these articles now. Hopefully I'll write some more for you guys in a few months when university work is not eating my time.
nocolor666 - 12.03.2009 at 04:00  
Land of the free 4? I think it should be much higher, its one of their best albums
Ozman - 14.03.2009 at 19:48  
Written by nocolor666 on 12.03.2009 at 04:00

Land of the free 4? I think it should be much higher, its one of their best albums


Much higher? how is that possible? This is a rating out of 5.
nocolor666 - 15.03.2009 at 12:37  
Written by Ozman on 14.03.2009 at 19:48

Written by nocolor666 on 12.03.2009 at 04:00

Land of the free 4? I think it should be much higher, its one of their best albums


Much higher? how is that possible? This is a rating out of 5.

IMO 4 is underrated, I know it isnt their best album, but for me, it is possible, its their one of their best indeed, it is NWO my first GR album that lead me into the Gamma Ray metal world. without NWO without my GR.
Xnoybis - 17.10.2009 at 23:09  
So Gamma-Ray popped up on my randomizer last night while i was occupied, drunk, and blowing people up in a video game. in my drunken fog of carnage, not paying particular attention to the lyrics/music, i couldn't help but think of Maiden's 'Back in the Village'

i've already posted that i thought/found "Rain"'s intro bit and chorus section is eerily reminiscent of Bathory's "The Return" ... and by similar, i mean basically the same riff.

anyone else notice other such similarities?
Baz Anderson - 17.10.2009 at 23:23  
Gamma Ray seem to take "influence" from everyone on their last two albums.
YoreLore - 05.02.2010 at 00:10  
In my opinion there are very very few bands that have reached Power Metal perfection. Power Plant, Somewhere Out In Space and Land Of The Free are three of the greatest Power Metal albums ever made and despite loving all the other Gamma Ray albums, they haven't recorded anything as brilliant as those three albums. I still remember being about 14 and hearing Dethrone Tyranny for the first time, my musical taste changed in an instant.
Empyror - 09.02.2011 at 22:01  
Written by Baz Anderson on 17.10.2009 at 23:23

Gamma Ray seem to take "influence" from everyone on their last two albums.

I agree. At 3:02 on "My Temple" sounds like "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." The chorus to "Leaving Hell" is the same chorus from "Road To Hell" by Bruce Dickinson, and 3:28 of "Opportunity" sounds like 7:31 of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden. That being said I still love Kai and this album. I just wish he was a little less blatant when he rips somebody off.
Angelic Storm - 09.02.2011 at 23:16  
Written by Empyror on 09.02.2011 at 22:01
I agree. At 3:02 on "My Temple" sounds like "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." The chorus to "Leaving Hell" is the same chorus from "Road To Hell" by Bruce Dickinson, and 3:28 of "Opportunity" sounds like 7:31 of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden. That being said I still love Kai and this album. I just wish he was a little less blatant when he rips somebody off.


Probably the funniest "soundalikey" from Kai and Gamma Ray, is the pre-chorus of "To Mother Earth". (First heard at 00:36-00:58) Which is taken wholesale from Kai's own former bandmate in Helloween's (Michael Weikath) song "How Many Tears". lol
Aristarchos - 19.11.2012 at 14:38  
I agree with "Somewhere Out In Space" being their best and "Powerplant" their second best, but haven't been a fan of "No World Order".
R'Vannith - 19.11.2012 at 14:48  
Land of the Free not their best? No way Baz, that is THE Power metal album! Doesn't get any better than that!

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