Every time I look down my list of bands I’ve done in this Metal for Friday series I’m sometimes amazed by what I’ve left out–some of my all-time favorite bands that, whenever I think of posting a song by them, I think, “Oh, I must have done them a hundred times, I should think of something else.” I was looking at the list this morning to see the last time I posted a song by Gamma Ray, one of the crown jewels of Germany’s (and the world’s) power metal treasures, and I was shocked to see I’ve never done them. So, if you haven’t ever taken a listen to this immensely awesome band, here’s the best introduction you’ll ever have: “Somewhere Out in Space,” one of their most iconic songs, from their 1997 album with the same name.
Gamma Ray was the brainchild of guitarist Kai Hansen, one of the giants in European power metal, who was a key member of the band Helloween. In 1988 he left the band and went on his own, forming Gamma Ray. Clear, powerful vocals are a signature trait of power metal, so the band originally tapped Ralf Scheepers, who has one of the most impressive clarion voices in metal history and was, from the beginning of his career, often favorably compared to Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford. Scheepers parted company with Gamma Ray in the mid-90s and the band’s fourth album, Land of the Free, was the first in which Hansen himself took over vocal duties. It was a huge success. That paved the way for Somewhere Out in Space, which many fans believe is their all-time best work. It’s the song that got me into Gamma Ray, which remains one of my all-time favorites. Where many power metal bands tend toward embracing fantasy themes, Gamma Ray is firmly rooted in outer space and science fiction, as this song shows.
I’ve seen Gamma Ray live more times than I can remember, usually at Wacken Open Air, but I also saw them in their first-ever show in the United States at the ProgPower Festival in 2002. They put on an amazing, energetic, crowd-pleasing show each time. Probably in future Metal for Friday installments I’ll showcase some of their live performances. If you like this song, you won’t be disappointed!
Shabbat Shalom and have a terrific weekend! \m/