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The attraction of power metal for me came more from the modern-sounding, heavier albums like Helloween's 'Better Than Raw', Stratovarius's post-Tolkki releases, and Gamma Ray's 'No World Order'. The problem with power metal came for me when I ventured back into those bands' catalogues and found some rather weak and overblown heavy metal albums that left me with very few of the things I had come to love. Helloween's 'Keepers' albums are not all they are cracked up to be, Stratovarius had good albums in the late 90s, but their first couple of releases were slow and gloomy, while Gamma Ray turned out to be a different band entirely, which pissed me off at first and made me listen to 'Sigh No More' and 'Heading for Tomorrow' with a sour expression.
The style of the first Gamma Ray albums were not really centered around power metal at all, more frequently drawing inspiration from classic metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, plus a host of other, less intense, rock bands of the 80s. Yes, I am thinking of Guns 'N' Roses, Aerosmith, even Van Halen, and some of the stadium bands. The problem with this formula for me is that there are several songs on both early releases that just don't suit my tastes at all, while the themes and lyrics are sometimes so broad and generic that I want to erase the idea from my mind - seriously, 'Free Time', 'Money', 'Father and Son'? For me, the songs with more energy and invention are where the band sounds best, both from a musical and vocal point of view. Ralf Scheepers, for me, is a worse vocalist than Kai Hansen, especially if you've heard his performance on 'Somewhere Out in Space' or 'New World Order': he has some boring vocal lines and a generally average voice at slow or mid-pace, though when the band start to rip, he gets to show off some rather powerful lungs.
The production on this album has been slated by a few reviewers and, imperfect though it may be, I don't mind it too much despite my usual preference for powerful sounds and emphasis on guitars. The drums aren't annoying, neither in the way they sound (not too slappy, not too cardboard) nor in their patterns, which are usually upbeat and reasonably interesting, and it's good to actually hear the bass for once, especially in songs when the guitars aren't doing that much. The riffs are lacking though, there's no avoiding that fact. There are songs like 'One with the World', where chugging and keyboards replaces any actual note patterns, while I find myself in a state of general amnesia about most of the riffs here, not to say they are all bad. The solos are, as expected, the high point of the album, but the pace of several songs is not calculated to put me in a good mood. 'Changes' is one of the most coasting songs I've heard from Gamma Ray and an awful choice for opener, while 'Father and Son' is a ballad that tries to make itself exciting with acoustic and electric solos, which simply make the overall song seem poor and the solos out of place.
There are two songs that I really like, which are 'As Time Goes By' and 'Dream Healer': the former is exactly the reason I bought this album, because I thought Gamma Ray could sound edge-of-the-seat exciting and alive when they add some pace and conviction; the latter isn't so fast, but it doesn't need to be, simply oozing class from the sinister build-up to the flowing Maiden-esque lead to the quieter mid-section and the thunderous conclusion. I'm also rather partial to 'Start Running', another quick power metal song, and '(We Won't) Stop the War', which sounds more like a slightly funky rock song (the post-chorus riff reminds me of Red Hot Chili Pepper's 'Suck My Kiss') and it's totally out of place but has a certain momentum and attitude that rocks like a good-time song.
In total, 'Sigh No More' isn't a cohesive album and isn't what I would call power metal. About half of it has the Helloween influence you might expect, while the other half is completely off the wall and occasionally very boring. It doesn't play well from start to finish and certainly won't satisfy everyone, but there are several good songs that are worth visiting regularly, as well as some trash to forget.
Kai Hansen, after leaving Helloween, decided that he wasn't just quite finished with music yet. He mainly formed Gamma Ray to finish up some of the remaining ideas he had left over from Helloween and ended up releasing their debut "Heading For Tomorrow" with a lot of those ideas. This album, however, seemed to go in the exact opposite direction that Kai had always been known for.
To start, let me just say that there is very little value to this album whatsoever. The production is completely wrong, the lyrics make no absolute sense, and the music is even more dull except for maybe two tracks.
Musically there is little value whatsoever here. Whenever a worthwhile riff is actually written, it sounds like a blatant Judas Priest ripoff. When original material is actually written, the direction goes nowhere. I'm not sure if the band themselves are to blame for writing boring, uninspired music, or if it was the engineer (who is also ironically a long time producer for Helloween and Gamma Ray on select albums, so I may have to go with the former) for tracking this album so horribly. The only time this album really gets interesting is around "One With the World" which seems to be the first fully worthwhile track on the album while the album itself mainly builds up with hits and misses throughout the earlier tracks. I've found myself more than often skipping tracks because they're not just simply poorly written, but actually annoying at times.
Throughout half the album, the rhythm pretty much remains a constant rock beat with a heavily distorted guitar playing over it. The drums and bass are pretty much going through the motions throughout the entire album. Only occasionally having moments of glory at the intro or a small interlude in the middle of tracks that hold no relevance to the music itself but rather a pointless show of ability that goes no where.
In the middle of the album we have a ballad which is the predecessor to the turning point of this album. It continues in a very slow pattern that follows the simple: Verse, bridge, chorus/repeat. Standard power ballad.
After biting your tongue hard enough to get by the first five tracks which do occasionally have some great moments, like in "Changes" and "As Time Goes By" you will get to "One With the World" which is the true turning point to the album. The only problem is that it sounds like you've just turned on "United" by Judas Priest from the start with better riffs and a better chorus. The rest of the album pretty much carries off a heavy Judas Priest influence that's almost literally plagiarizing, but more well-written.
My main issue with the production for this album is that it makes everything sound so flat. Everything is audible, and I've heard much worse production, but usually a low production is acquired to give the music a stronger feeling and an idea of more energy given off by the band with a more clear sound. But everything just sounds completely dull, even in some of the best parts of the album. With such boring songwriting, a remaster couldn't even save the rest of the album from making you want to hit "skip" throughout the first five tracks.
Most of these songs have overdriven hard rock sound, except Rich And Famous and One With The World, which are on the borderline between rock (hard rock) and heavy metal (classic heavy metal), (We Won't) Stop The War which has some jazz elements and Dream Healer which is the only 100% intense heavy metal (classic heavy metal) song with darker tone. Rich And Famous has cool aggressive riff which could have been more powerful with more distortion, and if they put louder guitar tone while mixing it in the studio. Same thing for One With The World, 'cause that could have been another heavy metal song, but overdriven guitar tone and decreased volume, with keyboards moment decreased chances of being heavy metal song. Father And Son and The Spirit have acoustic guitar touch, and create progressive feel. Progressions are notable in most songs, and it depends on their structure.
For example: Changes has slower tempo, but ending blazing riffs appear, and they put lots of aggression. Father And Son changes the mood from slow, acoustic ballad with piano into much more aggressive with blazing riffs, and that song is power ballad as a whole. One With The World is notable because of blazing riffs made of repetitive power chords which are powered up when faster parts come, and that combination with drums is absolutely killer. Dream Healer is full of dramatic changes in mood, ambient and tempo. Other lesser progressions are related to variations in tempo like in Rich And Famous. Besides lots of bloody amazing riffs, Kai and Dirk made amazing guitar solos almost in each song, with Gamma Ray's signature technical guitar work. Although Changes is updated version of demo song Heroes, lyrics are changed while riffs and epic, majestic neoclassic guitar solo ares till here.
Rich And Famous, besides good combination of riffs and leads, has technical solo, and As Time Goes By and Dream Healer as well. Technical doesn't mean soulless shredding, these guys have lots of feel for their music. Just listen to One With The World, and hear that pleasant technical solo which perfectly fits mood of the song, and Father And Son with excellent acoustic guitar solo. Besides guitarists, bassist Uwe did great job too, and his work is very notable in Changes, (We Won't) Stop The War, Start Running, As Time Goes By and Dream Healer. He follows the drums very often, but he had some soloing, nice lines in some parts etc. Ralf is one of the best singers of heavy metal music, so naturally he sounds fantastic in each song. Highlights of his insane high-pitched performance are Rich And Famous, As Time Goes By, Father And Son, One With The World, Start Running and The Spirit.
Good sides of this release:
Besides outstanding electric and acoustic guitar work, drums and bass guitar are equally impressive. Perfect vocals are not unusual for Gamma Ray, they always had top-notch singers. Lyrics are well-written, and describe the problems which were caused by New World Order, and other things in life which are difficult because of those bastards. Almost all of them are kick-ass sing-along songs.
Bad sides of this release:
This one could have been masterpiece studio album, but (We Won't) Stop The War Weak is boring, not impresive and not special at all. It could have been more energetic, with more heavy metal elements, not cobination of jazz and rock.
Changes, Rich And Famous, As Time Goes By, Father And Son, One With The World, Start Running, Countdown, Dream Healer and The Spirit.
I love Gamma Ray to death, but “Sigh no More” is my fucking nightmare. Like an abortion that somehow slipped through the cracks, this album never stood a chance, no sir. Before they were juggernauts of power metal, Gamma Ray was somehow squeezing by with Ralf Scheepers and the plague he brings along with some bastardized take on power metal which dipped to its lowest point here, and they thankfully turned it around with the mediocre “Insanity & Genius,” and then the much-needed exile of Scheepers. However, I’d rather drink piss from Lars Ulrich’s pimp goblet than acknowledge Kai Hansen’s involvement in this crime against decency. Every Gamma Ray record sounds different, sometimes in varying degrees, of course. Well, “Sigh no More” is the band’s open-armed dive into generic hard rock/heavy metal, or the let's-jackoff-the-MTV-crowd album, and yea, it blows. Some might tell you it’s underrated or unfairly judged by those meanie metal elitists, but that’s bollocks. This just sucks.
Unlike “Heading for Tomorrow” which at least attempted to progress the power/speed metal roots of Helloween, “Sigh no More” takes two steps back. If I said this sounds like Poison or Aerosmith half the time, you’d probably call bullshit, but I kid you not: this is loaded with regurgitated rockers that could level mountains with their shitness. Hell, the songwriting remains so dull, predictable, and embarrassing that I can’t think of a snazzy metaphor to compare it to. There’s never a blast of fresh air from the novice structuring and half-assed chorus of “Changes” to the insipid abomination of a ballad that is “Father and Son,” and song after song fails to become memorable, intelligent, or even remotely listenable; just the same hard rock trash recycled without mercy. Pretty much the whole scope of creativity was stupefied to sound like Poison or some similar hard rock garbage, no joke.
It quickly becomes an exercise of one’s patience. Listen to something with flare like “No World Order” or “Somewhere out in Space” and then try sitting through the bath of poo that covers the plodding “One With the World” and those useless percussion additions, or perhaps the fan-favorite “Rich and Famous,” which is so musically and lyrically stupid that I’m sure I drop four I.Q. points every time I hear it. The infamous Ralf Scheepers once again delivers a mediocre vocal performance that is often mired by the metallic soundscape and his lackluster chemistry within the group, and Kai Hansen’s guitar work looks rushed and lacking. There are some semi-passable numbers, particularly the flashy NWOBHM touches on “Start Running,” although the song is still not Gamma Ray-tier despite its neatness. “Dream Healer” unsurprisingly endures its legacy as the album’s best song, using dark and perplexing compositional pieces and sensational guitar work to make it a special tune; Scheepers doesn’t sound too shabby either. Hell, it may be one of the finest fossils of the Scheepers era.
But then I hear something like “Countdown” and I realize “Sigh no More” deserves the verbal abuse, the neglect, the burden of carrying the title of Gamma Ray’s weakest record by a longshot. Obviously, it’s an absolute disaster of an album, no other way to put it. Thankfully Kai Hansen turned the boat around, but this testament of excrement reminds us of how painfully awful Gamma Ray was in their earlier days. My only advice: don’t ever listen to this album, especially if you’re trying to understand the awesomeness of Gamma Ray. You will hear this stuttering, calamitous junk and quickly lose control of your bowels, which will make you sigh, sigh, and sigh some more.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
It pains me to see such a contrast. On one hand, we have absolutely amazing songs. One With the World, Rich and Famous, Changes, Start Running, and Father and Son are all top tier power metal. In fact, One With the World is my favorite Gamma Ray song. I’m so glad Kai re-did it. The solo on the Sigh No More album sucks compared to the redone version. Speaking of better solos, only *that* song had a better re-done solo. Changes and Rich and Famous are amazing without the re-do. Each of the songs listed above is classic in its own unique way, which sets the bar high for anyone to compete against.
Changes is a bad choice of a song to open up with. It is really an avant-garde taste. People who listen to Arcturus (I’m talking La Masquerade Infernale here, not their debut) will find this quite exquisite for them. I’ve not heard a song like it done ever. Really hard to describe... it mixes power metal with a psychedelic side, and somehow a really fun solo molded in there somehow. Dream Healer (a song later on) expands upon this otherworldly feeling to the extreme, but takes it too far in some cases. There is really huge Judas Priest ripoff (I mean influence, sorry) occurring within Dream Healer. It is like Gamma Ray’s rehash of Sad Wings Of Destiny, the album by Priest. Of course, half the songs on here have an after-taste of NWOBHM in there, but some of these songs really are so original, they’re untouchable. I’ve mentioned One With the World already, but Rich and Famous is easily the best sing along ever, and it’s quite nice to see a really fast 15 second double bass run by Uli. Besides that though, he really shines on Insanity and Genius (which has tons of stuff going against it), too bad he didn’t go all out here.
Father and Son is another avant-garde type song. Really chord/arpeggio based with a country’ish feel, it seems like something that would fit on Load/Reload [Metallica, for those that don’t know]. The song utilizes blue scales with some deep, interesting—but overused—lyrics. Most people seem to rail against this song, but under the proper atmosphere can be a home-run. Most of this album is a home run (!) until we get towards the end. That weird psychedelic taste just starts to totally hijack the album. Kai and Ralf must’ve been dealing LSD with acid-laced pot when they made this. The album literally shifts from catchy power metal, to “Doom Power Metal.” I would call it doom-power-metal, though others might disagree. Now I never have and never will do drugs, but it would be really interesting to see the effects of someone stoned while listening to the latter half of the album. Strangely enough I could see a similarity between that and doing the same under a Black Sabbath setting.
The album art work kicks ass, but the last 3 bonus songs suck dick. I can’t find any redeeming value on them so far, so they will be left out of the calculations. I don’t even know how to attain the re-mastered version since they still market this album. Good job producers! Thinking one step ahead there... aren’t we? Regardless of that, the amount of properly done songs kicks total ass, and there is any doubt, go find it on youtube. There is a video by the band in a desert for “One With The World”, and it’s pretty good.
Because, this is a huge let down from their debut album, Heading For Tomorrow. There is hardly any great power/speed metal moments on this album. Apparently, Ralf Scheepers wrote the majority of the material on this album, and it shows. Not only is he an annoying singer, but he is a pretty mediocre songwriter as well, and he's the main reason why this album is so mediocre.
The majority of songs on this album sound like an attempt, and I do mean, attempt at mixing power metal and 80s hard rock/glam. While the power metal moments on this album are good, the glam moments on this album range from mediocre to absolutely atrocious. Don't get me wrong, I love glam metal. it's one of my favorite genres of metal and music as a whole. Bands like Poison, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, and Skid Row are great and show a more fun and laid back sense of heavy metal. However, this band should not be playing glam, there are not at all good at playing it. There attempts at playing glam are so silly, incoherent, goofy, and stupid, that you cannot take it seriously, more to less enjoy it.
The songs on this album are split in between two categories: decent/good power/speed metal, and stupid, goofy, watered down glam/80s hard rock. The formal containing Rich & Famous, As Time Goes By, Start Running, and Dream Healer. Then, the latter contains Changes, We Won't Stop the War, Father and Son, One With The World, Countdown, and The Spirit.
The power metal songs are pretty decent. As Time Goes By is the best of this bunch, and the best song on this album. It wouldn't sound to out of place on one of Gamma Ray's later releases, as it's fast with great riffs. This song is pretty great speed metal. Rich & Famous is pretty good as well. It's nice and catchy, and sort of sounds like I Want Out. These are the two best sogns on this album. Start Running and Dream Healer are pretty decent as well. There not exactly good songs, and Dream Healer tends to get pretty boring at times, but their solid, and at least better than the majority of songs on this album.
The other half of this album is pretty atrocious. As I stated before, the majority of these songs sound like an attempt at playing 80s hard rock. The best of these songs is Changes which is actually pretty decent. It has a pretty nice groove to it. However, the other songs range from mediocre to horrible. Countdown sucks so bad that it makes glam metal sound like a joke. It suffer from a retarded chorus and the song is just way too silly for it's own good. Hell, this makes Quiet Riot's Critical Condition album look like a masterpiece, it's that bad. One With the World also suffers from this though it is slightly better. Father & Son is a poorly done hair ballad which is really nothing special. It's not bad, but it's still pretty damn boring and mediocre. We Won't Stop the War would be alright if it weren't for yet another stupid ass chorus.
For the most part, this album is pretty boring, and thus is Gamma Ray's worst album. It has it's moments, but they are few and far between. The only really worthwhile song on here is As Time Goes By. Most of the other songs on here are a poor attempt at glam metal/80s hard rock. Twilightning also mix power metal and 80s hard rock, but they are at least way better at doing it. However, this band certainly isn't. Avoid this album, unless you are completist, and if you at least want some good glam metal, listen to something like Skid Row or even Poison. However, don't buy this album. Download it instead, and enjoy the few decent momets it does have.
It takes a die hard fan to dive into this album again after so many years and try to find those rare good moments. Yeah, the nineties were poor for all of us. All the great band from the eighties were starting to sound like shit. From ‘Tallica to Maiden to even Napalm Death. Also after their decent debut, Gamma Ray would rapidly deteriorate stylewise. (fortunately Hansen saw the light again in '95)
No I do not think this album is underrated. Trust me I’ve had this album since it came out and I played it a lot over the years. It never grew on me. It actually has gotten worse with each spin. It also got worse from the retrospective point of view each time the band released a new album. Just listen to any other Gamma ray album and you will have to admit: This is their worst together with Insanity and Genius.
The first album still reeked of Kai Hansen domination. Speed metal, power metal and those catchy midpaced pounding sing-a-long anthems. So what on earth was the band thinking on this album? Let’s do our best to sound the least like anything Kai Hansen? Well, they did a great job then.
Come on, this album has almost nothing to do with power metal. Most of it is blatant MTV friendly metal and hardrock! Okay, so there are a few real metal moments like “As Time Goes By” and “Dreamhealer” but that’s about it. Ohw yeah, “Start Running” is also a cute up tempo NWOBHM tune.
“As time Goes By” is speed metal in the lightest form. No heavy material like for instance the Walls of Jericho stuff but at least up tempo with some cool riffs and memorable vocals lines and ditto chorus. The production however is mediocre and very thin, damaging the song. But hey, look at the credits to the song: Hansen/Sielck ? No wonder it sounds so much better than 90% of the rest of the album.
“Dreamhealer” is the best song here. It is a dark pounding metal song with some great melodies, nice dynamics and eerie atmosphere. As said “Start Running” has a nice tempo and sweet NWOBHM riffing and feeling to it. Not a mindblowing song, but very entertaining. Here we can hear Hansen in form again.
Well these three good songs are about all that’s enjoyable here. The rest of the songs are MTV proof second rate rock and mediocre hair metal. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like some hair metal and I even own some albums by Extreme (excellent guitars) and Cinderella (nice country touches and Guns ‘n’ Roses approach). The songs here however cannot compete with the actually good hair bands. From all these songs the mediocre “Changes” is the best one.
“Rich and Famous”, “Father and Son” and “The Spirit” are by far three of the worst songs ever written by Gamma Ray. Ohw hell, “Stop the War” and “Countdown” are utter crap too.
If you’re into power metal, just get “Dreamhealer”, “As Time Goes By” and “Start Running” and please forget about the rest of this album! If you’re into rock and hair metal, forget it as well, there are numerous better albums available than this (such as Pornograffiti, Long Cold Winter or No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims). Three good songs can’t save an album.
There has been a good deal of chat amongst the casual/occasional Gamma Ray observer that this is an underrated album, to which I respond, if you listen to the other albums this band released you’d have a hard time continuing to hold this view. This is actually one of the most poorly produced power metal albums that I have every heard in my tenure as a fan. The drums are way too fucking loud for starters. I admit that Uli Kusch is an amazing drummer, but there is such a thing as having too much reverb on the percussion kit. The guitars are extremely thin sounding, and the bass is also a bit too loud. But in addition to the obvious problems with the production, there is also a good deal of trouble with the songwriting on here.
Suffice to say, Kai Hansen himself had stated that he planned on hanging it up after recording the music of the first Gamma Ray album, as he intended only to get the remaining songs of his early Helloween days out of his system. By a rather unsurprising twist of events (the debut album was very well done), Kai’s phone was ringing off the hook with requests for more of his unique brand of fast melodic metal. Unfortunately, Kai decided to overdo it on his second studio effort and ended up with a heap of almost completely unrelated songs that somehow are supposed to carry a theme of world unity and peace.
We have some solid power metal tracks on here that are obviously worthy of praise. “Rich and Famous” is a rather lyrically humorous and musically catchy rocker that bears a bit of similarity to the Helloween classic “I want out”. “As time goes by” is an amazing speed fest that features some of Ralf Scheepers’ most extravagant vocal acrobatics, as well as some solid guitar riffing. “One with the World” is also a solid metal anthem, although it is one of many tracks on here that suffers from an overloud drum presence. “Start Running” features some amazing bass work, and yet another set of inspired guitar riffs and some decent solos. “Dream Healer” is somewhat of an eastern influenced epic that has some very dramatic moments, although the vocal tracks tend to drown out the rest of the music at times.
The rest of the music on here is all over the place, as it seems that Kai Hansen and the others were intent on trying to create something progressive, and failed miserably in the process. “We won’t stop the war” has to be one of the goofiest sounding 80s rock songs I’ve ever heard, owing mostly to the cliché blues riffs and the thin guitar production. Hey Kai and Uwe, Aerosmith called and they want their B-side songs back. “Changes” meanders all over the place, not to mention having an extremely uninspired chorus that can’t really be separated from the verses. “Father and Son” features some quasi-inspired acoustic guitar wankery, but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. Fortunately on subsequent releases Gamma Ray elected to leave the acoustic guitar driven Power ballads to more capable bands in that department such as Angra. “Countdown” is an utter bore fest that drags down the pace of the album between 2 of the better songs on here. And the grand finale “The Spirit” completely falls flat, in addition to having extremely corny lyrics, the boys of Gamma Ray decided to end the album with a slow fade out of a cheesy and completely generic chorus. You will take note that no Gamma Ray releases post Scheepers end this way, and for good reason to.
To prospective buyers, this is one Gamma Ray album that I am not particularly proud of owning, it was almost a complete waste of money. If you go for good music and can get past the production flaws, I could value this at perhaps $5. But for production savvy folks, I suggest either steering clear of this release and picking up Blast from the Past (which has most of the better songs on here completely re-recorded) or acquiring it for under $3 and utilizing the skip button often.
With 1990's Heading for Tomorrow, Kai Hansen continued crafting the well liked power metal sound he had helped innovate. There was little change in the formula he used, and as a result, it sounded very similar to Helloween's Keeper albums. Gamma Ray had a successful tour after the album was released, and decided to stick around a little longer. In 1991, the same year Helloween recorded their first post-Hansen record, Gamma ray released their second effort, Sigh No More. The album was not exactly praised as much as Heading for Tomorrow, and today the jury seems to be out on the album. Some call it one of the band's best works, while others label it as boring and forgettable. In my opinion, it fits somewhere right in the middle.
In a way, Sigh No More was still alike Helloween's Keeper albums, and in a way, it grew to become different. While past elements are still present on the album, while listening to them, they feel stronger and more thought out. As should be expected in Kai Hansen's writing, there are plenty of melodic passages, where he and new guitarist, Dirk Schlachter, can impress listeners with creative and fun riffs that have become the standard of the band. Songs like Dream Healer show that the band can incorporate many changes to the music without making it sound sloppy or boring, as both songs effortlessly change from slower, lighter tracks, to powerful speed metal cuts, and back. In other songs such as, As Time Goes By and The Spirit, Gamma Ray takes a more straight forward attempt at power metal, and is very successful.
Unlike some of the past few records that Kai Hansen has been involved with, Sigh No More does not contain an epic like Halloween, Keeper of the Seven Keys, or Heading for Tomorrow. Instead, we have a more varied album, with more attention being placed on the rest of the album. Instead of one mega-epic, Gamma Ray has decided to craft shorter songs that add more depth to the album. Yes, Sigh No More feels more like a complete album than Heading for Tomorrow, and the listening experience is that much better. Another thing I liked about Sigh No More is the humor is a lot more subtle. Unlike Heading for Tomorrow, there are no "money-money-money-money-money-money" moments that ruin the song.
While vocalist Ralf Scheepers sounded great on the debut, on Sigh No More his singing is even better. His vocals give off less of a happy go lucky feeling than on Heading for Tomorrow, and the music feels a lot darker here, than it does on former cuts like Heaven Can Wait. Scheepers' sounds a lot more like Judas Priest vocalist, Rob Halford on this release. Be it his screams during the chorus of Dream Healer, or his cleaner singing style, he sounds almost dead on at times. Of course, this definitely affects Gamma Rays music. As Ralf sings with a lot of authority in his voice, which when combined with the aggressive vibe the guitars are showing, makes the bands sound very powerful. As Time Goes By is an excellent example of this quality, especially during the catchy chorus.
Though metal historians (if such people exist…) will not likely cite Gamma Ray's Sigh No More as a very important album, it certainly deserves your attention. The album takes Gamma Ray's established sound and gives it a harder edge, as seen in songs like (We Won't) Stop the War, or Dream Healer. Overall, Sigh No More is a more focused effort from the then German quintet. I'm not so sure how easy it is to find, so if you see it in stores, make sure you pick it up.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
This album is no Heading for Tomorrow and not as good as the later albums with Kai on vocals. To be quite honest, the first time I listenend Sigh no More it kind of bored me: no power/speedmetal like Powerplant, no escapistic lyrics and no Kai Hansen behind the microfoon (at least not on leadvocals). The album was put somewhere in the same corner as Queensryche's Empire. Thank God I relistened these albums after a few months to rediscover them, because they both deserve it.
There is no big epic like Heading for Tomorrow to be found (Dream Healer gets close, but is too short to be a real epic). The rest of the songs are more hardrock than heavy or powermetal with the exception of As time goes by and Dream Healer. This doesn't mean they are bad after all, in fact most of them like Changes and Start running are really great. The only real downpoint is Rich & Famous, which is in my opinion a little too happy for this album.
The guitarsolo's are great as always and Ralf's vocals are quite good, I start to like him more than, say, Halford (no, this isn't blasphemy, I think Halford's overrated).Uli Kusch' drumming is heavy and firm and Uwe Wessels basslines are creative like on most Gamma Ray albums. The lyrics deal most of the time about the Gulf War and aren't bad, I just happen to like the fantasy/SF related themes more.
Sigh no More is a good, if not great album and should be (re)listened by more people. Absolute highlights: Changes and As time goes by
Wow, this album has really grown on me since I first reviewed it six months ago. Back then I had only heard the album eight times, which proved to be way too early for a review. Now, I've heard it at least 15 times and the time has come to update my review with a higher score.
I can imagine what many people think when they first hear this album. "OMFG THIS ALBUM SUCKS IT'S SO GODDAMN BORING". Then they trash it and never listen to it again, and when somebody ask what they think about it, you know what kind of answer they get. And of course, many people listen to these guys and never give the album a chance. Because of such ignorant fools, this album ends up being forgotten by many, and that's truly a shame. Yes, this is the weakest Gamma Ray album, and yes, it's certainly a letdown after Heading For Tomorrow, but does that mean it sucks? God, no.
The album opens up with "Changes", which is a perfect opener for this album. It's slow, but by all means great. Ralf's vocals shines throughout the whole song, and the guitar work is just as you'd expect. Nice riffage and a short, but excellent solo. The songs speeds up after a while, and that's when it really gets great, with an excellent chorus at the end that always makes me sing along like there's no tomorrow. Really a well written song that belongs in the "Gamma Ray Classics" category, and it's probably the best song on here. Get the Lust For Live DVD for an even better version. Next up is "Rich & Famous", a song of the more catchy type, like Heaven Can Wait, just not as good. It's still great though; it's actually too catchy for your own good, and it's impossible to sit still when you listen to it. Really funny lyrics too. Just what you'd expect from Kai, and Kai only. This is the kind of song only Kai Hansen could have written. Oh yeah, great solos too, and I love the use of double bass towards the end. Simply put, an instant classic, and it really sounds like a Gamma Ray song. The same goes for the next song, "As Time Goes By". This is one of the fastest songs on the album, and it's got a taste of power. While this is far from a power metal album, this song is definitely the most power metal song on here, and it wouldn't sound too out of place on Heading For Tomorrow. It's also very catchy, with a nice chorus and some excellent solos (as always). These three songs make an excellent start to this album.
"(We Won't) Stop The War" is one of the songs that have really grown on me since last time. I said it was one of the weakest songs on the album last time, and that may still be true, but it's really a well done song. It's just nothing special, like the first three songs, but it definitely has its moments. Then it's time for a balld, named "Father And Son". I have to admit that I didn't care much for this one in the beginning, but it really grew on me and now I love it. It's got a very nice emotional feeling and that's what makes it so good. Also, it's very different from all the other Gamma Ray ballads, but that just makes it unique, and unique is good. Well, it just gets better, cause next up is "One With The World". This one is a powerful anthem with strong verses and an excellent sing along chorus. After a while, it speeds up and we get som excellent solos of the kind you would expect. A really good song and it's still a concert favorite today. Then it's back to full speed (or at least as fast as it gets on this album) with "Start Running", and this is definitely one of the best songs on here. The intro riff is very cool and the whole song is filled with trademark Gamma Ray elements such as speed, power, catchiness and great guitar work. Unfortunately, the greatness takes a little break after this song. Although "Countdown" can be catchy now and then, it's pretty weak in general and I can honestly say it's the weakest song ever performed by Kai & Co. That's not saying much though, but there's really nothing great about it. As Agonymph said, get the vinyl if you can (or cassette for that matter), as this song is a CD bonus.
Now "Dream Healer" is an interesting song, and it's another one of those songs that have really grown on me since last time. I take back whatever I said about this song being boring, except for that "I see red, I see blue... part" about four minutes into the song. Everything else is great though. It has a nice, soft intro and before each verse there is this really lovely lead-melody. The first verse may start boring, but it gets better after a while. At least the chorus is great and after two verses and choruses we get some excellent solos. The song slows down for the boring part after that, but it speeds up again and gets really great towards the end. That "listen to dreams.. part" is probably the best part of the song. With its 6 minutes and 23 seconds, this is the "epic" song of the album and on vinyl and cassette, it's also the album closer. The end of the album is close, but first we gotta listen to "The Spirit". What a lovely song this is. It's not very catchy, but it has got this happy feeling throughout the whole song that makes it so enjoyable. Nice use of acoustic guitars too, and an excellent solo as always. Not to mention the short but terrific chorus. A perfect way to end this gem of an underrated album.
That's it. Overall, this is a great album and there's only one song on here that can be considered "weak" compared to the rest, but that really doesn't ruin the album. Seriously, people, Gamma Ray haven't always been about kickass power and blazing speed. You can't put on this record for the first time and expect another Powerplant. Do I put on Britney Spears when I want to listen to Iron Maiden? No. Instead, you can look forward to some nice traditional metal and hard rock with a taste of classic Gamma Ray now and then. Listen to this album with an open mind and do yourself that favor not putting it away if you think it's boring the first time. Give it 5-6 spins, and you'll most likely end up loving it.
This is the second full-length by Gamma Ray, and it's quite underrated. The first time I listened to it, I wondered what had gone wrong. But by giving it a couple of new chances, it certanly grew on me. It's not as good as Heading for Tomorrow, or the later albums. It's more quiet, and not as fast, and there's less quality in the songs, but it's still a pretty good album. The production is pretty flawless, but the drums sometimes sound a little weak.
For the line-up they changed drummer (Uli Kusch taking over for Mathias Burchardt), and a new guitarist (Dirk Schlächter) came in. It's still Kai Hansen on guitars, Uwe Wessel on bass and Ralf Scheepers on vocals.
The album opens up with "Changes". It's quite good. A real rocker. It's slower than your average Gamma Ray-song, but it doesn't mean it's a bad song. The short solo is well-played. And the part towards the end of the song is the best part of the song. It's really catchy and the classic Gamma Ray shines through. Next up is "Rich & Famous", and is one of my favourite Gamma Ray-tracks. It's catchy, and fun. A little faster too. And a great chorus, that makes you want to sing along to it. Gotta love this song. The solo is excellently done, as always, and adding another guitarist was a good idea.
The third track, "As Time Goes By", is another rocker. It's quite fast, catchy and a little closer to the Gamma Ray we all know and love. Lovely chorus, and a cute solo, very classic Helloween/Gamma Ray, with both guitar playing. Too short, though. "(We Won't) Stop the War" is another slower track. It opens with a tiny bass-intro, and continues as a catchy rock-song, with some jazzy stuff thrown in. Yet another good solo (as always). It's a decent track, and the worst one so far in the album.
"Father and Son", the fifth song of the album, is a ballad, and it's a good one, as all of Gamma Ray's ballads. It's got nice acoustic guitars and excellent singing. A calm, and soothing song, perfect for those days you're not in the mood for blazing speed. Excellent solo-playing, and even the solo is acoustic. Towards the end it goes into a nice rock-riff with a small solo-part over. "One With the World" opens with a catchy drum-part, and goes into more classic-sounding Gamma Ray. It's a good, song, maybe a little to repeating, but it's not a bad song. Good solo, and after the solo it speeds up, and it turns really catchy. Sing-along chorus' is always fun, until someone laughs at my singning.
"Start Running" is one of the best tracks on the album. Pretty fast, very catchy, and pure fun. As always Scheepers is a very good vocalist, and the solo is good, as usual, and now it's both guitarist playing too. Excellent song. "Countdown" is a rock-track. It's got the usual catchyness, but I find it kinda boring. Nothing special about it.
Then it's time for the albums longest song, "Dream Healer". It's supposed to be the album's epic, but I find it rather boring. It's starts slow and speeds up to the first chorus, and it goes catchy. But it's still a pretty boring song, except for the excellent solo (Is there one bad Gamma Ray-solo out there?). Towards the end it speeds up, and the last minute or so of this song is actually quite good. But there's nothing special about it. "The Spirit" is the last track of the album and is another rock-track. This one's actually pretty good. A good closer on an album, and it's a neat sing-along tune, with the always good solo.
--- Bonus Tracks on remastered version ---
These songs will not count on the review-points, but I'm going to write them down anyway, because they're songs on the album's remastered edition. So I'll review them, but they don't count in on the albums rating, therefor I will give it a 1-10 rating per song.
First is "Heroes", and is actually "Changes" with another, funnier intro, and different lyrics. Still the same good song, nothing more to say about it. If you need more, scroll up to the part about "Changes", because it's basically the same song. [9/10]
Then there's a pre-production version of "Dream Healer". So now we get a three minute longer version of an already boring song, but now it doesn't sound as good, because it's a pre-production version. [2/10]
Finally it's "Who do You Think You Are?", a good rocker. Catchy drumbeats, fun lyrics. Nice solo-playing, as always. Very good song. [9/10]