Gamma Ray - Men, Martians and Machines | The discography

By Enrico Spinelli about Gamma Ray and their discography.

There are people in the world of music to whom I am and will be eternally devoted, among these, the good Kai Hansen cannot be missing, the one who can rightfully figure among the fathers of modern power metal, with Helloween has signed 3 essential albums for the genre and that has been able to start from scratch putting on a band that, through ups and downs, has given its notable contribution to the scene and history of heavy metal, my beloved Gamma Ray. I discovered them in 2001 and had the pleasure of seeing them live in my Florence in the same year and then two more times (although in the latter as a support band), so I want to celebrate my 20 years with them retracing 30 years of career album after album. And so...

Gamma ray

Kai Hansen quits Helloween and sets up a new band that allows him to vent all his passions, without forgetting the illustrious past that so much glory has given him. He recruits on vocals a very talented guy, Ralph Scheepers, and with his new band he made, at the first try, a true masterpiece both for quality and versatility (as evidenced by the iconic cover, which seems to prelude to a hard rock record). In fact, more classically Power metal episodes such as "Lust for Life" and the super hit "Heaven can Wait" alternate with pieces at the limit of punk such as "Free Time", "Hold Your Ground" and the odd "Money". The good Kai shows all his love for Queen with the superb "The Silence" (which alas only Scheepers can sing) and for Judas Priest with the powerful "Space Eater". The long title track is monumental as the cover of "Look at Yourself" at the end is inexplicable.

Behind a "computer graphics masterpiece" cover (my God!) We find a work substantially in line with its predecessor: it displaces the modern-rock open of "Changes", while Helloweenian echoes appear in the funny "Rich and Famous". There are also references to Priests here, as evidenced by "As Time Goes By", but it is the more Power episodes that appear suggestive, and I am talking about the epic "One With the World", the overrated "The Spirit" and the long "Dream Healer ".

Probably the least powerful album of the early Gamma Ray. If in fact "Tribute to The Past" seems to go in that direction, we immediately think of the weird but funny "No Return" to mess up the cards, before the powerful "Last Before the Storm" finishes to confuse us. From here on I confess that I do not understand much of the trend of the album, which presents songs closer to rock but in my opinion devoid of bite ("Future Madhouse" and "Cave Principle" never interested me too much), except for the Queen oriented "Heal Me", really well done. Finally, the covers of "Gamma Ray" are starting to get pretty stale, change is just around the corner.

Kai Hansen decides to restart with his foot well positioned on the power metal pedal and then, recovering his place behind the microphone, he packs a real gem for the whole genre: "Rebellion in Dreamland", "Man On a Mission", the title track and the powerful "The Abyss of the Void" in this sense are songs of absolute value, but the whole album shines with inspiration and quality. Famous guests enrich the work, Micheal Kiske in the rocking "Time To Break Free" and Hansi Kursch in the choruses of "Rebellion..." and as a solo voice in the epic ballad "Farewell". We may be far from the originality of the first period but it is a pleasure to find Uncle Kai in good shape.

The formula is always the same, but the good Kai adds a bit of healthy wickedness, Power and sci-fi in rivers and packs a superlative work, where each song is a potential classic (and in fact, ours will have fun rotating songs for you during the live shows published): "Beyond the Black Hole", "Man, Martians and Machines", the epic title-track (which will be expanded live to allow interaction with the audience), the single "Valley of the Kings "are impactful pieces, as well as" The Guardians of Mankind "," The Winged Horse" and the final pairing "Shine On / Rising Star ". Few adjectives to describe it, indeed only one: perfect.


Winning formula does not change, and here is an album that substantially confirms the good things are already done without particular leaps of originality: "Anywhere in the Galaxy", "Garden of the Sinners", the Manowarian "Heavy Metal Universe" (Lyrics not really memorable, but live it's amazing) and the final "Armageddon" (beautiful) confirm the state of grace of the band that limits the digressions to the minimum wage: a good cover of Pet Shop Boys ("It's A Sin" ) and the Sabbathian "Short As Hell". Appears what will be a classic in the later releases of the group, what I call the "I Want Out-Song "(IWOS so we do before)," Send Me A Sign ", a great classic that will close most of the band's performances.

Perhaps among the most beautiful covers of the group's discography for an album that, behind an alleged pseudo-concept about the Illuminati, marks a new change. In fact, behind a power facade, there is a hardening of the sound that makes the compositions more powerful, at times epic, to the detriment of the happy side. Already the initial pairing "Induction - Dethrone Tyranny" behind an apparent power facade shows an accentuated aggression in the next, priestly, "The Heart of the Unicorn" (where Kai squeezes his voice to the extreme). And if the "IWOS" on duty, the single "Heaven Or Hell", seems to take us back to safer shores, immediately the powerful "New World Order" throws us back into the fray with its rocking mood (which at the end really reminds of Bruce Dickinson), perfect for live performances. If the aforementioned "Heart Of the Unicorn" was based on "Painkiller", with "Solid" comes another "inspiration" from Priests (who said "Rapid Fire"?). Absolutely to be recovered are the powerful "Damn The Machine", the suggestive "Eagle" and the poignant ballad "Lake of Tears" which closes a watershed work... and audience-sharing.


Even today I wonder what happened to piss Kai Hansen so much to release such a record: here there is pure evil, however bad a work of him can be really "evil", without spaces of light. Already the initial "My Temple" displaces for speed and anger (and for a parenthesis a bit too similar to "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", uncle Kai rascal), as well as the subsequent "Fight". There is not a moment of respite, except the opening seconds of the rocking "Blood Religion" (here Queen of "Tie Your Mother Down" peeps out), and also the "IWOS" "Condemned to Hell" already from the title demonstrates that there is no hope. And if "Spiritual Dictator" has at least one captivating refrain, the dooming (!!!) "Majesty" will plunge us into desolation. The only ray of sunshine is the lightest "How Long" but it is an isolated episode. The long and inspired "Revelation" closes everything, which however does not explain the reason for so much anger. The beauty is that it is one of my favorite Gamma Ray records, but since only me and their relatives liked it, the good Kai will understand that it's time to calm down.

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Did Helloween release the third instalment of "Keeper of the Seven Keys"? Well, Kai Hansen publishes the sequel to "Land Of The Free", even if he will never admit to having copied the idea (already in itself not very original). At first, I confess that I liked it a lot, but at the test of time, I confess that I only appreciate half of it. Of course, "Into The Storm" is striking in its simplicity, "From the Ashes" has an almost touching refrain, "Empress" has its own charm and "Real World" is hilarious, the atypical "Opportunity" is not bad (with Iron Maiden quote in the middle) and the long "Insurrection" at the bottom. And anyway, let's leave the classics alone, please.

When you say "judge a record by its cover" (the vinyl edition has a better one...)! Here the good Kai shows that ideas are starting to fail. If the dark "Empathy" opener works great and the subsequent "All You Need to Know" with the collaboration of Kiske amuses, already from the subsequent "IWOS" "Time To Live", weak like never before, you understand that something is wrong. We move beyond the dull title track, a tribute to Judas Priest gone bad, and we are faced with a series of songs that are not bad, but ordinary, anonymous, already heard and without flickers of value. Certainly the worst of Uncle Kai's work.

gamma ray

If the previous cover was bad, here Kai Hansen proves he can do even worse, giving us the x-ray of the "fang face" (the mascot of the group) pissed off. On the other hand, an improvement in content is appreciated, even if you do not call it a miracle. The solemn "Avalon" at the beginning is pure oxygen for the fans, as well as the light-hearted "Master Of Confusion" and the thrashy title track; not bad even the more priestly "Pale Rider" and "Hell Bent" as well as the final "I Will Return"; however, there remains a feeling of tiredness and lack of inspiration, well represented by "Seven" that even bothered "Rainmaker" by Iron Maiden!

Although Uncle Kai has hired a second singer to allow him to rest his vocal cords, I fear that the recent reunion with Helloween will leave him very little room for his creature... I will always be grateful to him for having given us some of the most beautiful records of modern power metal and I will be ready to welcome any new releases, hoping they will live up to what he has been able to achieve.
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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