By moonlight there's way... FOR REBELLION!
—Rebellion in Dreamland
Gamma Ray is a power metal band from north Germany, founded by former Helloween guitarist, singer, and songwriter Kai Hansen.
In 1988, after four years with his former band, guitarist and songwriter Kai Hansen decided, for reasons that are still the subject of much debate, to leave the band. Hansen claimed that Helloween had become too big for him to handle, although the group's troubles with financial issues and the record company most likely played a part as well. He proceeded to do some studio work with Blind Guardian. Eventually, Hansen decided to form his own project with long-time friend Ralf Scheepers from Tyran Pace. This two-man project grew into a four-man band with the addition of Uwe Wessel (bass) and Mathias Burchard (drums). Thus was Gamma Ray born, bearing a sound understandably close to that of Hansen's former band, Helloween.
One of notable features is that their style is very non-uniform and there's much experimentation, thus e.g. Insanity and Genius may be to one's taste, but Power Plant not, or vice versa. This was especially noticeable in the first five albums, which had at least one member different from preceding album, but the style still changes with each album.
- Kai Hansen - Vocals & Guitar (1989-)
- Henjo Richter - Guitar, Keyboards (1997-)
- Dirk Schlächter - Bass (1990-)
- Dan Zimmermann - Drums (1997-)
- 1990 - Heading for Tomorrow
- 1991 - Sigh No More
- 1993 - Insanity and Genius
- 1995 - Land of the Free
- 1997 - Somewhere Out in Space
- 1999 - Power Plant
- 2001 - No World Order
- 2005 - Majestic
- 2007 - Land of the Free II
- 2010 - To The Metal
- 2014 - Empire of the Undead
Gamma Ray songs include:
- "Lust for Life"
- "One With The World"
- "Last Before the Storm"
- "Rebellion In Dreamland"
- "Beyond the Black Hole"
- "Send Me A Sign"
- "Into The Storm"
- "To The Metal!"
- Audience Participation Song: "Heavy Metal Universe", from Powerplant, is transformed into pure pantomime live, with the audience being divided into thirds to sing various sections, along with a call-back section that keeps getting higher and longer until Kai is the only person in the room who can do it without dying. "Blood Religion" and "To The Metal" are following the same path.
- Bowdlerisation: "Your Turn Is Over", from Insanity & Genius, has the following lines in the booklet:
Think I better keep an eye on you
- Yet in the song itself, these are the sung parts:
Think I better keep an eye on you
- Break Up Song: "Leaving Hell", from Land Of The Free II.
- Conspiracy Theorist: It's pretty obvious from the lyrics and album covers.
- Casanova Wannabe: "Who Do You Think You Are?", from the Who Do You Think You Are EP and the Sigh No More remaster, mocks this trope.
- Cover Version: "Exciter", "Victim of Changes", "Long Live Rock 'n Roll", "It's A Sin" and "Angel of Death". Also the various Helloween covers they've done live, such as "Save Us", "Victim of Fate", "Future World" and "I Want Out".
- Covered Up: "Look At Yourself", "Return To Fantasy", "Gamma Ray" (from where the band got its name) and |"Heavy Metal Mania".
- Days of the Week Song: "Opportunity", from Land Of The Free II.
- Epic Rocking: Up to fifteen minutes with "Heading For Tomorrow", from Heading For Tomorrow, but eight-minuters are more common, such as "Rebellion In Dreamland", from Land Of The Free.
- Grief Song: "Afterlife", from Land Of The Free, is dedicated to Ingo Schwichtenberg, the late drummer of Helloween.
- Heavy Meta: The gloriously cheesy "Heavy Metal Universe", from Powerplant, and "To The Metal", from To The Metal.
- Heavy Mithril:
- "Space Eater", from Heading For Tomorrow, may be foreshadowing the above. It seems inspired by Galactus.
- Somewhere Out In Space deals with space themes, somewhere between Ray Bradbury and Stargate. This would be followed by Iron Savior. "The Winged Horse" won't be out of place in Standard Fantasy Setting. "Lost in the Future" is post-apocalyptic.
- Powerplant starts with "Anywhere in the Galaxy" and goes on to "Razorblade Sigh", which is hard to pin down, but it's definitely somewhere here.
- What does the name Empire of the Undead tells us? The first song is "Avalon", too.
- Humans Are Warriors: "Anywhere in the Galaxy" -
Gaze at the stars, the glowing god of Mars
- The Jimmy Hart Version:
- Some of Gamma Ray's songs have been accused of being slightly familiar. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden appear to be Gamma Ray's favorite sources of inspiration.
- The main riff of "To the Metal" will certainly remind a Judas Priest fan of "Metal Gods".
- Rise's intro will remind some people of "Fear of the Dark", or some more remote prototypes.
- The Japan exclusive "One Life" has a very similar part to "Cyanide".
- Love Hungry: Empress.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Real World", from Land Of The Free II. Although it depends on your world-view (can be seen as a reasonably aggressive form of some Buddhism teachings, for one):
God is an illusion and there ain't no paradise!
- "Hell Is Thy Home", from Majestic:
Hell is thy home!
- Or singing about the Apocalypse (or Rapture?) to the happy bounce of "Gardens of the Sinner", from Powerplant. They're a happy bunch.
- "Armageddon", from Powerplant:
And now, my brothers,
- "Hold Your Ground", from Heading For Tomorrow:
Come to plague me,
- Also, "Blood Religion", from Majestic, a happy bouncing with a dark vampyric lyric.
- "Empathy", from To The Metal:
Take me down to the place below
- Money Song: "Money", from Heading For Tomorrow, it's about a person with ideals arguing with another who may seem as a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
- The Noun and the Noun:
- Insanity and Genius (both the album and the song)
- "Rich and Famous", from Sigh No More
- "Father and Son", from Sigh No More.
- The Noun and the Noun: Insanity & Genius
- Our Vampires Are Different: "Blood Religion", from Majestic, is all about this.
- Refrain From Assuming: "Fight!", from Majestic, is sometimes referred to as "Carry On".
- "Wings of Destiny", from Powerplant - as in, "Sad Wings of Destiny"?
- "Fight" contains the following lines, both of which come from the songs "The Wall" and "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas.
The path I've chosen now has led me to a wall
- Skyward Scream: "Razorblade Sigh", from Powerplant.
- Step Up to the Microphone:
- Dirk Schlachter is the one singing in "Your Turn Is Over", from Insanity & Genius.
- Prior to becoming a full-fledged vocalist, Kai sung "Heal Me", also from Insanity & Genius. Until then, he was a backing vocalist.
- Take That:
- The Japan exclusive "Wannabees" (one of the bonus tracks for To the Metal) parodies elitist attitudes.
- The Rockstar Song "Rich and Famous", from Sigh No More, is one against Money Songs and similar aspects of the rock star lifestyle.
- Tomato in the Mirror: "All Of The Damned", from Land Of The Free.
I see a face in my mirror on the wall,
- "Future Madhouse"
Then you get up and look at the mirror
- Welcome to The Real World: "Real World", from Land Of The Free II, invokes the trope's name in the lyrics.
- The X of Y: Mostly between Land Of The Free and No World Order, plenty of titles such as "Wings of Destiny", the eponymous "Land of the Free", "The Guardians of Mankind" and "The Heart of the Unicorn".
Misc tropes (videos and other stuff)
- I Am the Band: Kai is the band's Dave Mustaine, as he's the one who compose almost every song of the band, and is the most recognizable member of it.
- Futuristic Pyramid: Heading For Tomorrow, Somewhere Out In Space, No World Order and Land Of The Free II, among the examples.
- Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition:
- The digipack version of Land of the Free II subverts this, as it proudly proclaims "Limited First Edition" on the cover, yet it doesn't have anything to be limited for. Technically, it represents the first pressing of the album and is a way to tell apart the first and second/third/etc. pressings of LOTFII, despite having no functional difference.
- To The Metal, on the other hand, plays this straight, offering up a limited hand-signed version with CD and vinyl that went out of print Short As Hell afterwards.
- Long Title: The live album "Hell Yeah! The Awesome Foursome! (And the finnish keyboardist who didn't want to wear his Donald Duck costume) - Live In Montreal!"
- Mascot: Fangface, who appears on their album covers, as well as the cover of the first Helloween album and EP.
- Non-Appearing Title: Powerplant.
- The Pete Best: Although it would be difficult for many fans to recognize every other member aside of Kai Hansen, (and Ralf Scheepers, to some extent, because he went to form Primal Fear) some members are more notorious than others, especially those who played before Land Of The Free was released:
- Former drummer Matthias Burchardt is the best example of this trope in the band. He only played in Heading For Tomorrow and the Who Do You Think You Are? EP.
- Former drummer Uli Kusch subverts this. Even if he only recorded an album with the band, (Sigh No More) he went later to join Helloween and record the first four studio albums with Andi Deris, (Master Of The Rings, The Time Of The Oath, Better Than Raw and The Dark Ride) before co-founding Masterplan with Roland Grapow. He's also notorious in that he's the only member of Gamma Ray, aside of Kai himself, who played with both Gamma Ray and Helloween.
- Another example of the trope is former bassist Uwe Wessel, who played bass in the first two albums (Heading For Tomorrow and Sigh No More) before leaving and fading into the shadows.
- Real Men Play Pink Guitars
- Recycled in Space: To some extent, the band themselves, having started off with often very political themes to their music and then gradually transformed into sci-fi theming by the time Somewhere Out in Space was released. That continued for a few albums and then dropped away again. Considering that some members changed after each album on their first through fifth, it's not so surprising. Iron Savior could also be considered a space-themed brother band to Gamma Ray, having had fully three quarters of Gamma Ray's membership in it at one point.
- The Rival: Helloween. Originally not on very friendly terms, the bands now tour and even play encores together.
- Shout-Out: The booklet designer for To The Metal must be a Warcraft/World of Warcraft player, given the use of the same font as the menus and even the yellow and white scheme of such.
- Start My Own:
- This is how Gamma Ray started. After quitting from Helloween, Kai Hansen went to work on some other thing (such as producing Blind Guardian's first album) before forming the band.
- Ralf Scheepers went to form Primal Fear with several members of Sinner after failing for an audition to be Judas Priest's singer.
- The Workaholic: Kai Hansen. At some point, he was in THREE bands at the same time (working with Avantasia, Gamma Ray and Iron Savior) and spent as much work on Gamma Ray as he did in other bands!
"Heeeeere in Dreamland we will not obey... THE MASTERS!"