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Should have Gone for a Better Tomorrow - 77%

DesecratorJ, February 27th, 2019

Don't get me wrong, I have been a fan of Kai Hansen's work in Helloween for the past ten years or so, but my approach to Gamma Ray has always been a whole other story. The first time I heard the band was a bit after I experienced the Helloween stuff, and I did not like it as much as the latter band. Sure, they were still ahead of their time along with many other bands of the German scene, plus, the band nowadays is also considered one of the biggest modern power metal band. However, it is definitely not because of their early material as Gamma Ray really started to become popular when Kai Hansen took back the vocal duties in the "Land of the Free" album in 1995. Although I never really dug much of the band's material, I still liked some songs here and there. But of course, the old school sound was not there anymore and I went to listen to bands like Scanner or Heavens Gate which I liked better in this genre.

Even if I have never been big into Gamma Ray, the first album reviewed here "Heading for Tomorrow" definitely was the one I played the most, in large part due to it being the closest follow-up to Helloween's late 80s material. Released in early 1990, this album saw a different approach from lead composer Kai Hansen. While the music is still mostly power metal, the material here is also mixed with some classic heavy metal and hard rock influences. The general vibe that I got from listening to this album is also quite mixed, the songs are less focused on fast tempos and has a more mainstream sound. I don't know if it was intended by the band, but in general, the music is more accessible even if Helloween were already starting to get into that same mood in the last part of the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums. Featuring nine tracks, "Heading for Tomorrow" does not have that much material on it, considering the first track "Welcome" being an introduction and the last self-titled 14 minutes of length song. I thought at first that it was an epic song like "Halloween" or "Keeper of the Sevent Keys", but it's not quite that. It has some good passages, somewhat cool atmosphere and guitar solos, but in no way as memorable as the other songs mentioned above.

Through all the album's content, we still have some cool tracks such as the power metal "Hold Your Ground" that reminded me of Helloween actually. A not so bad song called "Space Eater" also brings something interesting like an impressing vocal performance by singer Ralf Scheepers. The guy is a great singer, unleashing incredible high-pitched screams. However, I always favored Kai Hansen's vocals or those of Michael Kiske whatsoever. If we forget about some of the awful lyrics on the album, the track "Money" has a cool vibe with its rather simple fast-paced riff. Of course, it has a catchy chorus with some additional vocals by Kai Hansen that adds a cool effect. The album also contains two popular Gamma Ray tracks that I actually like. The first one being "Lust for Life" mainly because of its high level of energy and intensity with cool guitar riffs and solos in addition to the great vocals. The second track is "Heaven Can Wait" and kind of sound like Helloween's "I Want Out", to me at least. However, I still liked the mood displayed in that song, despite its more mainstream sound.

The album was also recorded in the same studio as all the bands mentioned in this review, thus having a similar production sound to these band's records, which is great. Overall, if you expect something as intense and effective as Helloween's work, you might be disappointed. However, the good songs on this album are actually great to listen to, depending on the mood you feel. Let's just say that you don't listen to a song like "The Silence" when you're angry or feeling aggressive, but still, the song is decent. Casually, "Heading for Tomorrow" is a nice album to listen to, but you will most likely get tired after a short period of time. I would recommend this to die hard fans of power metal or people that really like Kai Hansen's work.

Favorite tracks:

Heaven Can Wait
Hold Your Ground
Lust for Life

Heading for yesterday - 67%

gasmask_colostomy, September 29th, 2015

Uh, the beginnings of Gamma Ray. Really, something I think I'd mostly rather forget. The first great album that Kai and co managed to put their name to was 'Land of the Free', and I might even quibble that that wasn't quite up to the standard of the three that followed: but what were the first three albums? All had different problems, from the incohesive mess of 'Sigh No More' to the hit-and-miss experimentalism of 'Insanity and Genius', plus this one, 'Heading for Tomorrow', which is slightly better, though nothing to celebrate. Considering that Helloween's first EP was sprung upon the world in 1985 and that Kai Hansen was present on that release, 'Heading for Tomorrow' sure does sound dated by comparison, as if these guys had taken a big step back into the mid-80s, ignoring all the progress that Kai had been a part of.

The effect aimed for here is arguably much less extreme than Helloween's early work, featuring just a little of the speed that made them so exciting and few of the power metal manoeuvres that appeared at the time of 'The Keeper of the Seven Keys'. Instead, we get more mainstream heavy metal and even some hard rock and stadium rock. In the first place, you can hear how much Kai had been grazing on Iron Maiden, first of all taking Ralf Scheepers along for the ride, what with his Bruce Dickinson-sized mouth and comparable soaring tone, then pinching a few riffs and several solos from the Londoners (there's one in 'Space Eater' where you start to wonder if Dave Murray is guesting), plus that big blatant song called 'Heaven Can Wait' that errs a bit too close to the line between reference and theft.

When the Maiden influence is blended with speed metal, as on 'Lust for Life', it tends to work very well, but the other songs sometimes remove the intensity and incorporate some less flattering elements. 'Free Time' is dire, especially the basic melodies and almost pop-rock riffs, while 'The Silence' tries to be too plaintive with its plodding piano verses; the latter is significantly too long, kicking into a faster section at the 4 minute mark, yet still not progressing to anything particular - another Dave Murray solo and terrible stadium rock drums. Oh, and 'The Silence' has an excruciating Broadway-style ending that actually does rhyme "together" and "forever" more than once. Then there are moments where the musicianship is totally awry, like the verses and chorus in 'Hold Your Ground' that have altogether too much drumming and not enough guitar or melody, as well as ill-suited happy-clappy vocals. That said, the song isn't a complete failure, displaying an interesting signature riff that includes some kind of percussion (it can't be cowbell can it?) and a creative and exciting solo section. There are other moments when the experiments pay off: 'Money' dodges most of the cliches of its theme with great rhythms and a kooky melodic sense; 'Space Eater' has some fun moments at mid-pace; the title track goes above and beyond a few times, yet can do nothing to truly give the album something of note.

Sometimes I like albums that throw ideas around and end up with a few risks taken, some interesting surprises, and one or two noses out of shape. However, 'Heading for Tomorrow' actually sounds more like a band misfiring, starting to move in several promising directions and a couple of awful ones without really finding what they wanted. Knowing that this was planned as a Kai Hansen solo album makes sense of this character, though I'm thanking the gods of heavy metal that he didn't go down that road, since we would probably have missed a lot of great music on the way. The biggest problem with this album is actually not the sense of scattered ideas, it's the dated feel that those ideas have accrued over the past 25 years. I'm not often snooty about time, yet some of the keyboards on here, some of the riffs, and quite a bit of the attitude has been left in the dust and sound rather silly now. That means I can only listen to this album in certain moods, such as when I'm relaxing on Sunday afternoon, when I'm tired in the evening, or when I'm bored of too much heaviness from other metal bands. It doesn't sound awful, but that's so unsatisfactory: the music should beckon the mood, not the other way around. In addition to the faults mentioned above, that issue means that 'Heading for Tomorrow' can only ever be alright.

Diversity with a capital D - 95%

kluseba, August 17th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, 2CD, earMUSIC (Reissue, Remastered, Anniversary edition, Digipak)

On their debut full length release, Gamma Ray write diversity with a capital D and offer one of the most vivid European power metal albums in history. You can hear and feel how much fun these musicians had while recording this record and their common joy is simply contagious. This comes as quite a surprise since band leader Kai Hansen had gone through difficult years following his departure from influential genre veterans Helloween. This release was originally planned to be a solo record but Kai Hansen disliked the idea and decided to start a new band. Despite this decision at the last minute and a somewhat unstable line-up, the chemistry between the involved singers and musicians sounds great. Kai Hansen wrote several memorable songs that easily outmatch the first steps of Helloween after his departure. His melodic signature guitar play is memorable and his few backing vocals already show his talent as a front man even though he isn't the lead singer on this output yet. This role is performed by Ralf Scheepers and even though I'm still having some troubles with his high-pitched vocals in his current band Primal Fear, his performance on "Heading for Tomorrow" is controlled, diversified and grounded in an accessible, energizing and enjoyable way. The pwerful rhythm section around bassist Uwe Wessel and drummer Matthias Burchardt fits well in as well without taking too much space.

The final result delivers everything a genre fan could desire. Juvenile up-tempo tracks such as the heavy opener "Lust for Life" with its tight rhythm section meet catchy mid-tempo stompers with lower vocal performances such as the hit "Heaven Can Wait" with its melancholic guitar melodies. Lyrically, the band offers both a thoughtful sense of social criticism in the chaotic over-the-top smasher "Money" and simplistic statements as in the catchy party anthem "Free Time". The whole mixture is garnished with a few successful experiments that keep any trace of repetition away from this killer album. "Space Eater" comes around as a surprisingly dark mid-tempo stomper with a dominating bass guitar play and a careful hint at progressive influences to evoke a slight science-fiction atmosphere. On the other side, the band offers one of the greatest power ballads ever written in both rock and metal genres with the epic and touching "The Silence". The reissue that honours the twenty-fifth anniversary of this milestone includes more valuable bonus tracks that could have easily made it on a regular album if its quality wasn't so constantly elevated. Only the silly quasi-instrumental "Lonesome Stranger" is a failed attempt at humorous radio play.

Funny enough, the only weak point of this album is what should be its centerpiece and absolute highlight in form of the epic title song "Heading for Tomorrow". The track is fourteen and a half minutes long and that's definitely between five and eight minutes too much. Granted, the track includes a few glorious melody lines and epic vocal parts but the song goes somewhat nowhere and includes several redundant minutes that only stretch the song and harm any kind of potential momentum. It's still an average tune and not a complete disaster but on an otherwise truly consistent, emotional and gripping record, this overambitious and overrated tune simply falls off.

Collectors and occasional fans should definitely grab this reissue since it includes a detailed booklet, a lovely improved cover artwork, a better remastered production and a bunch of great bonus tracks even though the karaoke versions of some tracks are somehow pointless. You will hear and see that Gamma Ray isn't a boring side project or uninspired copy of Helloween but rather a consequent high-quality continuation of that band by one of Germany's most gifted guitarist and song writers of the eighties and nineties.

A Great Start - 82%

Black_Metal_Elite, September 20th, 2008

All the band members play their role perfectly on this release. Being the first release, not much is really expected of the band—but it is delivered. With Kai Hansen at the guitar, usually nothing can go wrong. The melodies are solid, the solo’s both catchy and hard to play, and the drums being usually sub-standard for power metal. I mean, it’s more varied than most bands, but nothing really sticks out. It gets the job done, and I guess that is all that matters. Most of us are probably used to Dan’s drumming from the later albums (though he decided to tank it lately... let’s have another Somewhere Out In Space!).

The first half of the album is classic. All the songs have some form of a catchy riff to keep you hooked. Besides the intro, the first song kicks it into gear as soon as possible. Unlike the other songs though, the solo seems to go on and on. It drags forward way more than other songs, though never loses its spark. Most of the solos on this record tend to fit just right and end at the right time: Not too much wanking, not too little fun. While we can hear the guitar and solo’s clear, the bass is somewhere in there. Every Gamma Ray album has some form of bass, and even though most start up albums tend to lack the effects due to cash reserves—they’re 100% present here.

Variety is present on this album. Catchy mainstream rocking songs like “Heaven Can Wait” are contrasted with metal masterpieces like “Lust For Life”. In fact, one of the best ballads ever created by Gamma Ray is “The Silence”. It is done almost perfectly, just Ralf sort of quirks up some vocal lines in the song. Other than that, the instrumental impact of the song is unbelievable. The redone version fixes Ralf’s tone, but takes away from the instrumental a bit while adding a Christmas feel. If they incorporated that into the song on Heading For Tomorrow, while leaving out the screw up’s, this would be among the top ballad I’ve ever heard.

One thing that annoys me is how “The Silence” leads right into a really abrasive song. It ends on a very ‘beautiful sad’ hybrid note, but goes right into really stupid lyrics. “Come and (something) me, rape and take me.” What the fuck? Who made those lyrics. I’m almost sure Ralf did, but I could see Kai being just as *hilarious*. It clashes very badly with the end of a song. It is much like going from a clean polished song to a really run down cloudy black metal release. The contrasted difference is too large to be properly put together. Though, once you are passed those songs, we arrive at a 14 minute behemoth of a song, the self titled. The first ten minutes are amazing, but it should have really ended there. You don’t even know 10 minutes has passed, but after that magical mark, it is like you don’t want to hear anymore. The extra four minutes drag on longer than a cow pulling you across asphalt. Naked. If Kai was to just end it there, the world would be a much better place.

All in all, the bonus songs are pretty cool, but Sail On sounds 100% plagiarized from Styx. If you want primitive power metal with all the hooks and solos, this album is for you.

When variation turns into inconsistency - 70%

morbert, April 16th, 2008

When this album came out it was of course compared to what Hansen had achieved earlier with Helloween. When Helloween themselves released Pink Bubbles Go Ape it obviously was compared with the Keeper albums but this Gamma Ray debut as well! In those days the average verdict in many magazines was Heading For Tomorrow – Pink Bubbles 1-0. Retropectively I have to disagree now. Pink Bubbles grew on me and Heading for Tomorrow is mostly collecting dust these days.

Not that “Heading for Tomorrow” was bad. Far from it. It was just that Gamma Ray really came to life in 1995 with Land Of The Free (and Somewhere Out In Space later on) almost making me forget that they released some albums earlier as well. After all these years I still play “Lust for Life” and “Hold Your Ground” once in a while since these songs are simply briliant. Are they really briliant? Yes they are. These two are the kind of songs Kai Hansen was famous for when he was still in Helloween. Fast, melodic, catchy.

Only two things to complain concerning these two songs and that is about the performance, not the composition. First of all the bassplayer seems absent. Nothing even slightly notable happening in that department. Secondly the production is rather thin, as said the bass is gone, drums are too clear and the guitars could have used some more body as well. Thirdly the lead vocals are good but not great (Hansen himself or Kiske would simply sound better).

Problem with Ralf Scheepers is the nasal tone in his voice. Of course he is better than a lot of other vocalists in the genre but when playing with Kai Hansen one might expect even better. Then again, Andi Deris was an even worse choice...but that's another band..ahem.

Well, that’s two songs from the album. “Heaven Can Wait” is a simple track that is based upon the same idea as “I want Out” but the use of some keyboards here makes it a bit cheesy. The later re-recorded version on “Blast From The Past” is so much better guitarwise and vocally. Also I must also mention the fact that I hate this song having exactly the same title as a well known Iron Maiden classic. Why did they do this?

Okay, another personal favorite here is a rather silly tune but too cute to be ignored. We’re talking “Money” here. First of all, if you don’t hear the obvious Queen-influence you must have missed something in your education. Even though the song might have silly lyrics, the quality of the composition is pretty good. The song mixes Queen with metal and broadway and I still find it an enjoyable piece.

The song “Heading for Tomorrow” was reportedly a very early Helloween song. It should have stayed that way or a lot more sections of the song should have been rewritten. There are indeed some nice ideas here but not enough to entertain one over 14 minutes. Kai Hansen should have written a new and better epic or compressed the ideas here into an 7 or 8 minute tune. He wrote the mightly 'Halloween' for crying out loud so he should’ve been able to pull it off better than this.

It’s songs like “Space Eater” and “The Silence” that fail to keep my attention. I know a lot of fans really dig “Space Eater” and the band even kept playing this song live for some years but with the exception of a few enjoyable riffs I still find the composition as a whole bloody dull! “The Silence”, well a lot of people hate this song. And with good reason. Opening with cheesy Michael Bolton melodies. Yuck. I don’t care if it gets heavier near the end. The beginning has ruined it already.

The Uriah Heep “Look At Yourself” cover is funny but nowhere near the original. The thin production really damages this tune. The original version from 1971 (!) is heavier than this! Also the Ralf’s vocals really fall short. He sounds too thin.

So even if the album holds only a few really bad songs it unfortunately also holds just two songs that are extremely good and I still like to play. So from that point of view as a whole not a very memorable Gamma Ray album. Beats the crap out of Sigh No More and Insanity & Genius though!

Heading For An Early Death - 28%

GuntherTheUndying, April 10th, 2008

Being fresh out of Helloween, Kai Hansen had one thing in mind: make a tribute band paying homage towards his previous valor. Sadly, this is what Gamma Ray was about when Ralf Scheepers and other goons nobody remembers joined Hansen’s effortless project, essentially resulting in “Heading For Tomorrow” in 1990. Now when I had my first Gamma Ray experience with “Land of The Free,” I was blown away, and arriving at this destination blew me right back to my initiation phase; honestly reaching into opposite ranges of emotion. Truth is, “Heading For Tomorrow” suffers a similar fate to that of “Road of Perdition” when Tom Hanks sees Daniel Craig fucking around, and quickly puts a bullet in his head without him having a clue. In other words, this feces-absorber was already deceased before it even knew death was in question.

Posing as a brainchild of a former Helloween mastermind, “Heading For Tomorrow” dances on an opposite spectrum promoting the enemy of substance. It doesn’t take perfect hearing to notice Kai Hansen’s epic conjurations on Helloween’s first set of legendary records diminished into rehashed versions of his grand speed/power metal diamonds without venturing into the exciting atmosphere he could easily reproduce in years prior. Lacking the incredible attitude and potency of tunes like “I Want Out,” Hansen plunges into simple, expected riffs lacking memorable qualities such as speed or strength; solos usually found misplaced, boring, or simply unnecessary toward whatever fleeing musical direction; useless harmonies trying to ride off Helloween’s set of synchronized magic, and several other bugging attributes, all of which can be found in his guitar playing alone. As for percussion, it has no real purpose besides dishing out easy bass-snare patterns, along with an absent set of fills or variety. Essentially, “Heading For Tomorrow” is the poster-child for generic power metal; a dull release showing you exactly what you’ve been shown a million times before. Thanks Gamma Ray, but I’d rather listen to my parents having sex.

But of course, Ralf Scheepers’ terrible vocals act as a poor addition to these bland songs, often times hammering in the last straw of patience. Really, he’s the total package when it comes to being a shitty vocalist: we’ve got sloppy notes, poor pitch control, annoying whines, sub-par wails, and a naturally bad voice known for its average tendencies all in one session. Ironically enough, Ralf’s lackluster usage of his waste-of-tissue larynx is nothing compared to the childish, agitating lyrics found throughout a number of the disc’s “chirpy” anthems. Most noticeably, we have “Money” and a fork-in-eye abomination entitled “Free Time. Both are gems soaked in elephant piss:

“It only makes me sick and makes the people turn to fools.
It only gives you power and, power makes the rules.
Don't wanna be an asshole that sits on dollar bills.
Ha, ha, ha, I know you'll take it no matter how you feel.” – Money

"The sun goes down, we're gonna see a movie.
How happy life could be without any work.
There ain't no doubt we're gonna have a party,
'Til Monday morning, no one can disturb.” – Free Time

I’m left wondering who shall accept these writing credits: Kai Hansen, or Pee-Wee Herman. Just another one of life’s eternal mysteries, I suppose.

It’s rather ironic how Gamma Ray is often considered a fundamental enterprise in the general fertilization of power metal’s sound and imagery, because they openly bow before all those annoying, repetitive plagues like mindless sheep during “Heading For Tomorrow” and the stupid content within; not a warming gesture at all, if you’re looking at them for material greatness, of course. Whether it was Scheepers receiving a nice shoe in the ass or Hansen finally getting a grip on his writing abilities, Gamma Ray has gone on to do bigger and better things, yet I must say this album has only proven to be a shallow atrocity in a sea of greatness. As a matter of fact, you can honestly skip over “Heading For Tomorrow” and the remaining Ralf Scheepers-era records and still feel like a true Gamma Ray fan; it’s not like you’re missing much to begin with.

This review was written for:

A solid debut, nothing more. - 79%

IWP, February 11th, 2008

This is where Gamma Ray started out. After Kai Hansen left Helloween, he wanted to form his own band to rival the power metal giants known as Helloween. He then recruited Ralf Scheppers and several other members, and thus Gamma Ray were formed. The ending result is this album known as Heading For Tomorrow.

For the most part, this album is pretty damn good. About the only thing really wrong with it is the fact that it just sounds just to damn silly at times, and Ralf Schepper's voice can get pretty fucking annoying at times. He just sounds too silly to take him seriously as a power metal singer. This gets even more aggravaiting when the band attempts ballads. The album is split up in three groups:

-The truly awesome classics. Lust For Life, Heaven Can Wait, and Freetime.
-Good songs. Space Eater, Hold Your Ground, Look At Youself, and Heading For Tomorrow.
-Absolutely mediocre and useless. Money and The Silence.

First, the classics. Lust For Life is some good ass power/speed metal with a nice solo. Heaven Can Wait and Freetime are two nice fun songs to listen to. Heaven Can Wait is very catchy and has a nice chorus, and Freetime could honestly pass for a glam metal song. Seriously, if they replaced Ralf with Bret Micheals or some other hair metal singer, this song would definently pass for glam. Knowing this, since I actually like glam metaI, I fucking love this song! At least I would love this song, if it weren't for Ralf's annoying vocals. It's still pretty damn great despite that though. It's just fun and catchy all the way through.

Hold Your Ground is fast paced, but not quite speed metal. It has a very happy and at times silly atmosphere. The title track is good, though it's just too overlong. They could've cut the length down by five minutes.

Then, we come to the two mediocre songs. First, Money. Why they even made this song is beyond me. I mean, it's fast and all that, but it sucks. Kind of like Helloween's Rise and Fall, it suffers greatly from being too damn silly and mediocre. The chorus is so damn rediculous, but then once it gets to that "MONEYMONEYMONEYMONEYMONEYMONEY" part said very fast and squeeky, you just wonder what the fuck this band was thinking. This song sucks, and it should've never seen the light of day! Then, Silence is just a boring ballad, nuff said.

In conclusion, this album is pretty good, and itshits on their next two albums, especially Sigh No More. However, I'd recommend Gamma Ray's later releases, as they have gotten way better once they gotten rid of Ralf Scheepers. However, this album is still worth getting, as it has some godly moments. They certainly were heading for tomorrow, and tomorrow would be better for this band.

Boldly Heading for Tomorrow. - 91%

hells_unicorn, October 25th, 2006

A lot of debate has taken place over the death of metal in the early 90s. Why did it happen? What caused it? Was it inevitable? I prefer to ask a more basic question, such as did it actually happen? And after going over this album, as well as releases made by bands from 1990 to 1995 such as Angra’s “Angels Cry”, Blind Guardian’s 3 stellar releases during this period, Kamelot’s releases, and the rise of newer bands such as Nocturnal Rites I can say affirmatively that the alleged death of metal was a myth.

The NWOBHM died in the mid-90s, and Thrash metal was dead on arrival in 1991, but this does not hold true for the rest of the scene. In the case of the Helloween created blend of speed and melody, we almost saw an end to it, and I would argue that Kai Hansen’s departure from the fold saved Power Metal and allowed it to recover in the 90s. Helloween created 2 amazing albums with Michael Kiske at the helm, but unfortunately they were about to be placed into a creative box by their own success, as the mainstream and the recording industry don’t hold artistic liberty in the highest regard. Kai left the band because he didn’t want to be boxed into the Keeper of the Seven Keys label, and had he stayed the band would have self-destructed and bands like Blind Guardian would have been left to try and keep the sound alive without the originators of Speed Metal at their helm.

If you say to Kai Hansen that he was responsible for keeping melodic metal from dying off, he would probably laugh at the thought, as I don’t this is what he concerns himself with on a day to day basis. He has always been a self-empowered artist, and he creates because he wills it, not because others will him to. This album, on all levels, is the material manifestation of Kai’s will to finish what he had started long ago with his former band mates in Iron Fist. One of those band mates included producer Piet Selick who would later start his own band and fulfill that very same promise with his music. Why are we still in the midst of a revolution of melodic speed/power metal you ask? Because the amount of credibility that these guys carry with them can inspire legions of musicians to create similar acts of greatness. I can only pray that should my band make it into similar prominence, that we are worthy of the road that these guys have paved.

The significance of this album is not that it is the leap into the amazing speed driven power metal that occurred gradually after the exodus of Ralf Scheepers, but in that it is a solid Helloween style release in a time when there was no Helloween to speak of. Essentially Kai took the Helloween sound and freed it from the chains that had been placed on it by the quick success of the Keeper albums. And while this album is not quite as stellar as those were, it stands strong and challenges the conventional wisdom of the time that heavy metal was on it’s last limb. And as it was cut in a similar vain as that of the Keeper albums, it is necessary that this album be compared to them in judging it’s value.

The production on here is a slight step down from the Keeper releases, particularly in terms of the drums, which are large sounding enough but don’t have the same punch to them that Ingo Schwichtenberg was able to command from the kit. The bass is not nearly as active, although in subsequent releases the role of the bass would expand quite well. And as for the guitars, Kai handles all the duties and does an incredible job, although there is a lack of variety in the soloing as a result.

The songs on here, in many cases, are right in line with the Helloween style as it developed in the mid to late 80s. “Welcome” is a classic intro in the same vain as “Initiation” off the first Keeper album, and has been used as an overture to every Gamma Ray concert since. “Lust for Life” and “Heaven can Wait” are both your classic melodic and up tempo rockers in the Helloween vain, the former being very similar to the “Walls of Jericho” material. Other songs such as “Hold your ground” and “Money” are fast and more punk-like songs with some rather ridiculous lyrics, similar to “Rise and Fall”, they are fun but not very thought-provoking.

Other songs sound completely removed from the Helloween catalog, and vary quite a bit. “Free Time” is a metal anthem similar to something Twisted Sister would come up with, and bears some similarity to a few later Gamma Ray releases. “Space Eater” is a rather lyrically comical homage to the slower metal sound of bands like Accept. “The Silence” and the title track are both old tracks written back when Helloween had Piet Selick was in the fold and there was no such thing as Power Metal. Essentially both of these songs were penned in a time when the NWOBHM was a rather undefined and highly experimental genre, particularly in the case of Iron Maiden, and this group of up and coming German metal heads brought their own brand of musical intrigue to it. “The Silence” is a very epic ballad loaded with some rather amazing moments. The structure is a bit asymmetrical at times, but it is highly climactic in nature and highlights a varied vocal performance by Ralf Scheepers. The title track is a long-winded metal anthem with one of the most memorable acapella intros I’ve heard, bands like Queen come to mind as sources of inspiration for it. The rest of the song is a collection of rather memorable riffs, in addition to a great vocal interchange between Kai and Ralf. Both of these songs are the source for every experimental leap made by any power metal band, and as with those leaps, we can credit the variety of the current fold of power metal acts to the NWOBHM. The Uriah Heep cover is also very well done, and is an early example of how many power metal bands would bring older songs, either metal or non-metal, into the power metal genre.

In conclusion, this is an early manifesto for what 90s Power Metal would become, and is a must have for all fans of the genre. Hammerfall, Dragonforce, Power Quest, Nocturnal Rites, Labyrinth, Heavenly, and every other band to come out of the metal rebirth of the mid to late 90s owe a great deal to Kai for keeping the scene alive and hungry for this kind of music. For me the value of this album is high as it has influenced me on many levels in my music, but it has great musical value to the metal fan as well. When the ignorant masses continue to vomit out the tired platitude that “Metal is Dead”, remember the way Kai and others fearlessly took things in stride, and headed on for tomorrow. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a piece of metal history.

Chapter 1; Heading for Tomorrow - 96%

Wingly, March 3rd, 2005

Heading For Tomorrow was recorded in the same studio as Hellowen's Keeper-albums and produced by Kai Hansen, former guitarist, vocalist and founder of Helloween, now with his new band Gamma Ray.

Teaming up with Ralf Scheepers on vocals, Uwe Wessel on bass and Mathias Burchardt on drums, as the first line-up of Gamma Ray.

The production is quite good, as I would expect from perfectionist Kai Hansen, but naturally it's not perfect. The guitar-playing is excellent, and so is the vocals. Same thing with bass and drum. It's all excellent playing, throughout the album.

First off is the Welcoming-track, with a quite obvious name; "Welcome". It's a good track, nearly a minute long, with both acoustic guitars and riffs, good bass-playing and excellent drumming. A truly majestic introduction to Gamma Ray. And just after it's done it explodes with one of the best Gamma Ray-tracks ever made; "Lust for Life". It's fast, it's heavy, there's great singing, guitaring, bassing and drumming. The speakers explode, along with your brain when this bursts out. It's extremly catchy, and with a perfect solo-section lasting for about two minutes. If this doesn't make your bloodflow increase, nothing will...

After the great opener, comes, "Heaven can Wait". Yes, you guessed it. Yet another great song. This isn't quite as fast, but it's still pretty catchy, and with fun lyrics. After this it's "Space Eater", and it's a good song, but nothing really special, except the usual good playing of the band and the singing of master-vocalist Ralf.

Then it's time for one crazy song; "Money". This makes me want to dance. It's extremly catchy, happy and funny. People call it ridicolous, but it really grows on you, and now I love it. Not really much else to say about it, except the hilarious Mickey Mouse-army (as someone said). It's so incredibly fun. Whee! This song is followed by the first ever Gamma Ray-ballad; "The Silence". A perfect ballad, and as Kai4prez said, it contains one of Scheepers best vocal-performaces on the album, and with Gamma Ray in general. There's no verses or choruses. Just continuing, and I think it's a good way to write a song.

After yet another excellent song, another excellent song starts. "Hold Your Ground" is very catchy, and another fun song. As Kai4prez said the "Freeze me up"-parts are quite perfect, and this track will most surely make you smile and feel good. After this it's a cool rock-track, "Free Time". And I wonder why people call it bad, just because it's a rock song. That alone doesn't make it a bad song. It's actually a un-bad song, in every way. Probably my favourite rock-song of all time.

Then it's time for the albums monster-song. The titletrack; "Heading for Tomorrow". With it's fourteen minutes and thirty seconds it's the longest track on the album. It's a good song, but the middle section is just too long and boring. It's not needed at all. It's probably Kai's try to make a longer song than with Helloween, and he did it. But the middle section could have been cut with several minutes. This draws the album back a couple of points.

Then it's the Uriah Heep-cover, "Look at Yourself", that closes this terrific debutalbum (unless you're listening to the japanese release or the remaster). This is a well done cover-song, and a good closer to the album, but nothing to rave about.

--- 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 out is "Mr. Outlaw" wich is fun and catchy speed metal, with the always excellent playing of the band, and the good singer. With an terrific solo-section, with both guitar and bass. [10/10]

Then it's "Lonesome Stranger". This isn't typical Gamma Ray. It's a cowboy-instrumental with a spoken intro. Good song, with lots of acoustic guitar. [8/10]

Then it's the final one; "Sail On". It's a rock track. And it's a good rock track.
But this is isn't really terrific. But it's still quite good. [9/10]

An Excellent Debut Album - 97%

Kai4prez, February 6th, 2005

After dramatically leaving Helloween, Kai Hansen teamed up with Ralf Scheepers and formed Gamma Ray. It was a shame for him to leave Helloween after their best album, but knowing how great this album is, and what the future would bring, it was probably not so bad after all. Kai entered the studio with his new band, and the result was their debut album, Heading For Tomorrow. And what a debut album. Let's take a closer look at what this album has to offer.

This is not a flat out power/speed release like Powerplant or Somewhere Out In Space. You can find a bit of everything on this album. It opens up with an intro, "Welcome", which is one of the best intros I have heard. Many albums have forgettable one minute intros, but this one here is great and it sets the mood for the album perfectly. When the intro is over, you're hit directly in the face by the killer speed tune "Lust For Life", which is known by many as one of the best songs by Gamma Ray. It's fast and melodic, but also very catchy. The gitar work is excellent on this one, with a solo section in the vein of "Ride The Sky". Kai sure doesn't fail on this one. "Heaven Can Wait" is a bit slower, but much more melodic. You can't fail to sing along to this chorus, and the post-chorus is very lovely. I think this song shows how good a vocalist Ralf can be. I really love his voice on this song, and I can't understand why so many people bash him. Ah well, that's their problem and not mine. "Space Eater" follows, and this is more like a traditional heavy metal tune. It's the slowest and heaviest song on the album, but this one doesn't fail to be both melodic and catchy either, and we get to hear another style of singing from Mr. Scheepers. He's a good vocalist. I love him. Get over it.

"Money" is the craziest song ever, and I guess this is Kai's attempt to make an even weirder song than "Rise And Fall". Obviously, he succeeded. I didn't like this song very much the first couple of times, but thankfully it grew on me and now I love it. It's just so damn weird and funny that you can't help but loving it. And did I mention how catchy it is? Yes, I said catchy once again, and that's not a lie. This whole album is extremely catchy, and that's why I love it so much. The lyrics are a bit silly, though. Kai probably wrote this song in anger after getting screwed and ripped off a lot of money from the sales of the Helloween-albums. Next we have the best Gamma Ray ballad ever, "The Silence". This song is unique because of the way it's built up. There are no verses or chorus, just different parts through the whole song, and every one of these are extremely well done. There are no proper words to describe this song, so you just have to listen to it and find out for yourself. This song also contains some of Scheepers best vocal performances, and especially in the beginning. "when you're drowning.... when you're freezing..." ah, wonderful.

After this amazing ballad, we're back to full speed with "Hold Your Ground", which also happens to be very melodic and catchy. I love that whole "freeze me up" thing. Nice guitar work in this song as well. The solo sections are amazing. But the best part of the song is the instrumental part after the last chorus. The song fucking explodes in your face there, and it gives me the perfect Keeper-feeling. This song would fit perfectly on one of the Keeper-albums. Hell yes. "Free Time" is next, and it happens to be a very underrestimated song. It's somewhat similar to "Heaven Can Wait", just slower and not so heavy. This is more traditional hard rock than metal, but why would that matter? The song is well done, with a nice melody and a lovely chorus. Excellent solo too, although it's not done by Kai.

But the album is not over yet. It's now time for the longest song on the album, and the longest song in the history of Kai Hansen, namely the title track, Heading For Tomorrow. This is nothing but an epic masterpiece, filled with great vocal parts, instrumental parts and tempo changes, just like Halloween and Keeper, but this one is very different in many ways. There's really nothing negative to say about the song, but the interlude part after the first verses is a bit long, as mentioned in another review here. This is not a big deal, though. It's still a masterpiece, and you couldn't have found a better way to conclude the album. Well, there is one more song, "Look At Yourself", but this is a bonus track, so it doesn't count as the album closer. It's a Uriah Heep cover, and it turns out pretty good, as they managed to keep the Gamma Ray sound through the whole song. I honestly haven't heard the original, and I though it was just another Gamma Ray song the first couple of times. The instrumental part rules.

Well, that's it. What we have here is an album filled with great and unique songs, and it will never let you down. There are no fillers or boring parts, just plain awesomeness. And did I mention how catchy this album is? All the songs have these special moments where I just can't help but sing along, and it makes me so happy. Yes, this is a happy album, maybe except for the title track. I've seen people point out Land Of The Free, Somewhere Out In Space and Powerplant as Keeper III, but seriosly, can anything get moe Keeper than this? Sure, Ralf is no Kiske, and there's no Weikath on this album to play the trademark guitarduos with Kai, but other than that, nothing fails to give me the correct Keeper feeling with this album. It has all the kinds of songs you would expect on a Keeper album. Killer speed tunes, slower but catchier songs, some heavier stuff and of course the epic closer. If you love Keeper II, you will most likely love this, just don't expect to be totally blown away the first time. Give it some time and let it grow on you, and you will most likely end up loving it like I do. And don't forget the fact that this is a debut album. Debut albums usually don't get any better than this. Like the title says, an excellent debut album.

A Great Debut Album - 90%

Serj_Arto, October 18th, 2004

Heading For Tomorrow is Gamma Ray first album. A lot of bands would kill to have a debut album like this. The album has its weak points but also has many of the greatest songs in the band’s history. Kai Hansen produced it himself and it was recorded in the Horus Sound Studio, the same studio in were Helloween recorded the Keepers, and Gamma Ray achieved the same feeling.

“Welcome” – This intro is a great hymn. Acoustic guitar strings along with heavy guitar riffs, strong bass and drums, all along with orchestral strings to make this track an epic intro.
“Lust For Life” – This is a speed metal track, fresh and optimistic. This song would perfectly fit on any Helloween album (specially the Keepers). The acoustic guitar touches and the (long) solo are just awesome. One of the very best Gamma Ray’s track ever.
“Heaven Can Wait” – If I have to use a single word to describe this track it would be: FUN. The music is fast and funny. A great but simple solo hits you in the face to make this a great song. It has the same vibe as Helloween’s “I Want Out” (written by Hansen as well) but the backing vocals on the chorus are stronger.
“Space Eater” – Mid-tempo and heavy track. The lyrics are its weak point, “Don’t use drugs” (not so) hidden message sounds like my old school teachers.
“Money” – The song was meant to be silly and fun, but instead of “Heaven Can Wait”, this track was forced to be fun and the real vibe was lost. Silly and some kind of stupid is what Money is. The music is fast and frenzy and the singers duel is not so bad at all, but the lyrics are crap!
“The Silence” – I really enjoy metal music’s speed, aggression, power, attitude and even violence, but sometimes even the metallians have to get some time to just enjoy a beautiful ballad, and The Silence is a very beautiful ballad, with enough metal on it to not be confused with a pop music ballad. Ralf Scheepers’ voice and singing on this track is just epical. This track has an additional bass played by Dirk Schlächter, due that he wasn’t a band member at that time. Choirs are great too!
“Hold Your Ground” – This track is fast, but heavier than “Lust For Life”. This song has been so much underestimated, but in my opinion it’s one of the best tracks in the album. The “Arabian” guitar clip on the interlude was a very good addition to the song. Great and enjoyable!
“Free Time” – In a normal day listening this album, I would skip this track. Maybe you can hear it when your optimistic mood helps you to forget that this is a rock track. This is a Ralf Scheeper’s song, and I’m glad the only one. The solo was played by Tommy Newton, the album’s mixer.
“Heading For Tomorrow” – In the same line as “Halloween” or “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” tracks. The intro is great, the riffs are strong but its weak point is the long, very, very long interlude, and sometimes I get the thought that the interlude’s meaning to be is to become a longer track that the near fourteen minutes Helloween track “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” written by Michael Weikath by the way. Great track either way.
“Look At Yourself” – Is a Uriah Heep cover. Kai Hansen said that Helloween always had the idea of recording this track, he accomplished it just great.

Heading for tomorrow, not yesterday - 79%

MetalReaper, September 24th, 2004

1988-89. Bad times for Helloween... The guitarist and founder Kai Hansen left the group to form his new band Gamma Ray at their finest hour. A shock to the fans and the band, indeed. Hansen wasn't happy about the fact that Helloween had become big. He formed Gamma Ray with ex-Tyran Pace-vocalist Ralf Scheepers. Scheepers was originally meant to be the Helloween's lead singer, but Michael Kiske was chosen instead of him. The duo quickly recruited some members to their new band and started the recordings of their debut, Heading for Tomorrow.

There are many similarities between the Heading for Tomorrow and earlier Helloween albums. The music is overall mid-tempo at minimum and fast. Some parts of the album were written by Hansen in the early days of Helloween! Hansen has written most of the album's material. If the band would change their name to "Helloween" and their singer, no-one wouldn't notice.

Heading for Tomorrow's starts is just perfect. Intro is instrumental "Welcome" like the intros on Helloween albums. "Welcome" leads to the best track that Gamma Ray had made that far (Not a difficult mission, because this is a debut) "Lust for Life". Fast in all terms the song is absolutely one of the best songs that Gamma Ray has ever made. The song is a straight relative to Helloween songs like "Ride the Sky", by being at least as fast but not so heavy. There are plenty solos, which is actually excepted from the guitar hero like Hansen. The main solo is very long, about one-to-two minutes long. When "Lust for Life" finally ends, "Heaven can Wait" comes in. It's fast but not as fast as it's predecessor. A typical heavy metal anthem with a short one guitar solo compared to "Lust for Life".

"Space Eater" is far more heavier by more aggressive guitar sound and mightier drums. Scheepers changes his vocal style a bit. He sings lower at one point and then higher on the other. I think that Scheepers's whole vocal range is shown here. The problems start to arise in "Money". Tempo rises, but guitar riffs are silly and Scheepers sings like he's just going crazy. Vocals are split between Scheepers and Hansen, what makes this sound like dialogue. After brilliant guitar solo, it would be sure that the song doesn't get even more crappier. But it does. The "humorous" Mickey Mouse-army opens their mouths and you don't know should you laugh or cry. This is clearly a somekind of pastische of some musicals. The song is humorous, what doesn't suit Gamma Ray at all and it is a prototype of legions of songs that crappy power metal bands will make. "The Silence" is a ballad, what isn't a good type of song for Gamma Ray too. Song sometimes sounds like a christmas special. This isn't a AOR band goddamned! The tight riffing in the end doesn't save this piece of shit.

"Hold your Ground" is heavy, fast and angrier. Some goofy vocal melodies doesn't make this better. Guitar solos reminds me of numerous Helloween songs. This represents the better side of this album. "Free Time" lightens up the album's depressive atmosphere a bit. Both lyrically and musically, the track sounds like some tracks I would prefer "Party-metal", which I mean many traditional heavy metal and hard rock bands of the 80s singing about women, parties and fast cars. The song is written by Scheepers, and it differs from every other track of the album. Guitar riff is very simple and lyrics are ordinary with lines "my girl" and "hit the road". The joy of the track is short-lived, because of the epic, 14-minute title track coming in next.

The opus's name is "Heading for Tomorrow" logically for a title track. The mixture of Queen's "The Prophet's Song" and Judas Priest's "Sinner" creates the song's main riff. The similarities between Helloween's Keeper of the Seven Keys part I-track "Halloween" are stunning. the track starts like it, it has a silent mid-section, and then it explodes with a new riff. The track is partially scary, which isn't a bad thing at all. The main riff changes few times, giving some variety to the track. A perfect end to the album (my vinyl version ends here).

So what we got then? We have a powerful debut from a powerful band. Some tracks are tremendous, some are extreme crap. This album isn't a very good entity. Some tracks surely won't fit the pattern like goofy "Money" and rocking "Free Time". The album is still worth a purchase.