Album reviews: GAMMA RAY – Sigh No More/Heading For The East

GAMMA RAY - Sigh No More/Heading For The East

earMUSIC [Release date 25.09.15]

Another anniversary edition, Gamma Ray’s second album Sigh No More was originally released back in 1991. It came out just as grunge was starting, although metal bands were never hit as much as the hair metal brigade by grunge.

This 2 CD edition has the original album on disc one, plus two live songs, one of which ‘Sail On’ was only on the original Japanese release. This album had a lot less instantly catchy songs than the debut album, bar the catchy chorus on ‘Rich And Famous’ which could easily have slotted onto the debut album.

The band did some epic metal on ‘Dream Healer’, plus a rather good slowie in ‘Father And Son’, the strongest song on the album along with ‘Changes’. Plenty of fast and furious guitar solos with the dog bothering vocal range of Ralf Scheepers. I must admit this album has stood the test of time and I prefer it more now than on its original release.

The second disc has a couple more live versions of the album songs, plus ‘Blast From The Past’ versions of some songs (this was the album of re-recorded earlier Gamma Ray songs with Kai Hansen singing on them). There are demo versions as well, again with Kai Hansen on lead vocals.

If you don’t have this on CD no excuse now as this re-issue has plenty of extras to tempt you in. Gamma Ray, along with Helloween, have been and remain at the forefront power metal/speed metal and rightly so based on this album.  ****

Heading For The East is an interesting one for fans as this was previously only available on VHS video and this is the first time it has been available on CD. Recorded mainly for the Japanese market, who kept many a metal and melodic rock band in business through the grunge filled early/mid-90′s, the sound recording is not bad at all.

Split over two discs the setlist is made up mostly of the band’s then recently released debut album ‘Heading For Tomorrow’. Great live versions of ‘Lust For Life’, ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and ‘Money’. ‘Free Time’ features some call and response with the crowd and extended solo spots, it does seem to lose its way a bit this one.

There are some Helloween songs to fill out the set, including a storming run through ‘Ride The Sky’, although the band’s version of ‘I Want Out’ sounds a little lacklustre. One for the fans and a decent live set to sum up the band at the start of their career.  ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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