A power metal band formed by ex-Helloween guitarist Kai Hansen, Gamma Ray has risen up to become one of the premier bands in the genre. With the 1995 concept album Land Of The Free, Gamma Ray became internationally-known, touring with bands like Iron Maiden and Stratovarius. Throughout it all, Hansen has embraced his past work with his former band, playing Helloween hits at live shows, and even touring with the band in late 2007/early 2008.
Kai Hansen left Helloween after the touring cycle for Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II ended, and immediately went to work on his own band. Recruiting vocalist Ralf Scheppers, bassist Uwe Wessel, and drummer Mathias Burchardt, Hansen formed Gamma Ray in 1988.
The band released their debut Heading For Tomorrow in 1990. After this, Dirk Schlächter joined Gamma Ray as a second guitarist, and Uli Kusch replaced the departing Burchardt. This lineup recorded 1991’s Sigh No More before further changes hindered the band. It would be a few years before Gamma Ray would achieve a stable line-up.
Scheepers Leaves Vocalist Ralf Scheepers left Gamma Ray in 1994 as the band was working on new material. Hansen decided to step behind the microphone, in addition to being the guitarist. Hansen was not an amateur vocalist, as he sang for Helloween in the early years of the band.
First Big Break:
1995’s Land Of The Free was a huge hit worldwide with power metal fans, and got the band more exposure than ever before. At this point, one more line-up change was in order, when the rhythm section departed. Schlächter moved to the bass position, Dan Zimmermann became the drummer, and Henjo Richter took Schlächter’s guitar spot.
The rest of the 90’s were a strong period of time for Gamma Ray, with the band releasing a consistent volume of material. 1997’s Somewhere Out In Space, 1999’s Powerplant and 2001’s No World Order kept Gamma Ray in the spotlight, with their fan base increasing with each release.
Tour With HelloweenIn 2007, Gamma Ray toured alongside with Helloween in Europe, the first time that Hansen had done anything substantial with his former band since his departure. The tour was a major success, and showed Hansen playing alongside Helloween many times during the tour.
If You Like Gamma Ray, You Might Want To Check Out:
Current Gamma Ray Band Members:
Kai Hansen - Vocals, Guitar (Helloween, Iron Savior)
Henjo Richter - Guitar, Keyboards (Avantasia)
Dirk Schlächter - Bass
Michael Ehre - Drums
Former Band Members:
Ralf Scheepers- Vocals (1989-1994)
Uwe Wessel - Bass (1989-1992)
Jan Rubach - Bass (1992-1996)
Mathias Burchardt - Drums (1989-1990)
Uli Kusch - Drums (1990-1992)
Thomas Nack - Drums (1992-1996)
Dan Zimmermann - Drums (1997-2012)
Gamma Ray Discography:
1990 Heading For Tomorrow (Noise)
1991 Sigh No More (Noise)
1993 Insanity And Genius (Noise)
1995 Land Of The Free (Noise)
1996 Alive ’95 (Noise)
1997 Somewhere Out In Space (Noise)
1999 Powerplant (Noise)
2001 No World Order (Metal-Is)
2003 Skeletons In The Closet (Metal-Is)
2005 Majestic (Sanctuary)
2007 Land Of The Free II (SPV/Steamhammer)
2008 Hell Yeah! The Awesome Foursome Live In Montreal (SPV/Steamhammer)
2010 To The Metal (Earmusic)
2011 Skeletons & Majesties (Armoury)
2014 Empire Of The Undead (Armoury)
Land Of The Free
Gamma Ray’s fourth album was their first major success, one that garnered the band critical acclaim. Opening with the epic “Rebelling In Dreamland,” Gamma Ray takes the listener on a sonic journey through soaring vocals and out-of-this-world soloing. While Scheepers was a solid singer, Hansen brought something special to the table. The band would release a sequel to the album in 2007, but it couldn’t match up to the high expectations of the original.