Gamma Ray - Blast From The Past

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Noise Records
Catalog Number: N 0332-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 121:14:00

The one thing that separates a Gamma Ray "Best of" from most is that the quality of the songs - selection aside - won't change from the studio releases. This is mostly because the German melodic metal band has put out such a strong group of recordings, it is virtually impossible to find a weak track. Hence, the best of is no better than the studio releases.

Blast From The Past is an incredible deal. 2 CDs and over 2 hours of music for the price of a single CD. On top of that, the packaging is awesome. It comes in a foldout digipak case with a lengthy full color booklet. There's at least half a dozen cool painting/graphics interspersed with band photos. In many ways, the packaging alone is worth the cost of the CD.

Now for the music. Gamma Ray is an offshoot from the 80s German metal band Helloween. Tired of what Helloween was doing at the time, Kai Hansen left the band in '88 to embark on a solo career. However, the people he surrounded himself with convinced him to form a new band, hence Gamma Ray.

The earlier studio albums with a different line up have been re-recorded for the Best of and sound as good (in sound quality) as later work. The songwriting on their first few albums is not quite as good and therefore disk one is slightly inferior to disk two. Here's a band that gets better with each release. Like with most prog metal bands, the songs vary from speed metal, to lengthy and spacey instrumental passages and the occasional epic. Gamma Ray, as per their name, has a decidedly SCI-FI approach to song themes.

Basically, three songs are taken from each studio release with a bonus track on CD 2 recorded directly for Blast From The Past.

The stand out track on CD 1 is "Heading for Tomorrow" from the CD of the same name. It's a 14 minute epic that begins as typical metal but drops into a very lengthy, atmospheric instrumental refrain. Brooding bass and key licks with slowly building guitar.

The rest of CD 1 is vintage and well played melodic metal. The songs tend to blend together unless you sit and concentrate on each. As background music, Gamma Ray, like most prog metal, does tend to sound the same.

CD 2, however, is far more varying and virtually every track stands out. The nine minute "Rebellion In Dreamland" starts things out in grand style. Tracks 2 and 3 also rock well, providing ample proof that Land Of The Free, the source CD, is one of the 90s best prog metal studio recordings.

Things slow down for the bonus track, "The Silence", which stands up to Gamma Ray's high standards.

The three tracks from Somewhere Out In Space are also outstanding and lean more into the realm of Arena rock. Gamma Ray was going more commercial for that release, but they never did so at the expense of their edgy metal roots.

The band's last album, Powerplant, was a little patchy in some places, but the songs represented here are classic. Especially outstanding is the capper, the nine minute "Armageddon" which closes off the set with power and style.

Blast From The Past is a great way to introduce yourself to Gamma Ray if you haven't heard them. It's a clear reflection of how strong the prog metal scene is in Germany and it showcases some of the genre's best work.

If you are a Gamma Ray fan, I recommend it, if only for the exceptional packaging.

CD One: Welcome (0:56) / Lust For Life (5:25) / Heaven Can Wait (4:29) / Heading For Tomorrow (14:59) / Changes (5:28) / One With The World (4:48) / Dream Healer (7:34) / Tribute To The Past (4:46) / Last Before The Storm (4:56) / Heal Me (7:34)

CD Two: Rebellion In Dreamland (8:46) / Man On A Misson (5:43) / Land Of The Free (4:36) / The Silence (6:28) / Beyond The Black Hole (6:00) / Somewhere Out In Space (5:26) / Valley Of The Kings (3:50) / Anywhere In The Galaxy (6:35) / Send Me A Sign (4:05) / Armageddon (8:50)

Kai Hansen - vocals & guitars
Dan Zimmermann - drums
Dirk Schl?chter - bass
Henjo Richter - guitars & keyboards

Heading For Tomorrow (1989)
Sigh No More (1991)
Insanity And Genius (1993)
Land Of The Free (1995)
Alive '95 (1996)
Somewhere Out In Space (1997)
The Karaoke Album (1997)
Powerplant (1999)
Blast From The Past (2000)
No World Order (2001)
Skeletons In The Closet (2003/2004)
Majestic (2005)
Land Of The Free II (2007)
Hell Yeah! Live In Montreal (2008)

Heading For The East (VHS/DVD) (1991/1998)
Lust For Live (VHS/DVD) (1994)
Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: August 1st 2000
Reviewer: Richard Zywotkiewicz

Artist website:
Hits: 1390
Language: english


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