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Gamma Ray - "Heading For Tomorrow (re-release)"
Sanctuary / Noise 2002

This year is full of re-releases. Gamma Ray also faced digital re-mastering. All songs are re-mastered and bonus tracks included. In digipack with a new front cover, which looks more evil. But funny, the booklet has remained the same. No lyrics for bonus tracks, no additional photos or liner notes, that would reveal the history of the band. Well, this is the deal with all re-releases of first six Gamma Ray studio albums.

It is up to you what do you prefer. Original tape or a re-master. New orchestral arrangements, whole guitar work, rhythm section and especially vocals deliver full and more alive experience. After four years in Helloween Kai Hansen (guitar) announced his departure. Accompanied by one of the finest German metal singers of our time, Ralf Scheppers (ex-Tyran Pace, now in Primal Fear), Hansen formed a new group. Gamma Ray was born. So "Heading For Tomorrow" saw the light of day in late winter 1990.

As if Kai would sense that Helloween will face very hard times. He left the band at the right time and together with Ralf, Uwe Wessel (bass) and Mathias Burchard (drums) shuttled out a marvelous debut. Melodic epic heavy metal of German classic school with Judas Priest basement riffing. With fast guitar picking, that was also a trademark of early Helloween, and speeding double bass drum footwork. Full of constant rhythm changes, diverse riffs inside songs, this album was a great achievement for that time. It was a time, when everything in heavy metal universe was to be played so fast. And Gamma Ray was really x-raying.

So a major difference with Helloween was much more complex structured compositions. Sound was much more alive, early Heloween were very polished (similar to thosedays Iron Maiden production). Ralf Scheppers, German Rob Halford, was the best possible choice for Kai. What blasting shouting, extremely hard vocal lines. If Kiske was considered to be German Dickinson, Scheppers was a straight answer to that. With even more powerful vocal abilities that carried this power in higher sequences as if nothing happened at all. As a piece of cake. As Kiske, smooth and clean, but even more powerful, much more aggressive and therefore much more alive.

Colourful debut. You can choose from Priest oriented "Space Eater", "Hold Your Ground", what astonishing song, with Deep Purple's "Mandrake's Root" rhythm in its middle section or a bit crazy "Money" (with great vocal "crossfire" between Kai and Ralf), which prove that guys really enjoyed in what they were doin'. A real candy is the title song. It has everything that Gamma Ray still has nowadays. Gamma Ray needs to improvise. That's their trademark. Improvisation in searching for new musical horizons. And more was yet to follow.

Author:   Aleš

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