Gamma Ray – Heading For Tomorrow
Heading For Tomorrow
“So, Mr. Hansen, you just scored three classic speed metal albums in a row, what’s next?”
“Well Kylie, I’m going to quit Helloween and start another band with Ralf Scheepers!”
I really can’t think of why Kai Hansen would want to start a band from scratch after Walls Of Jericho and the two Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums; it’s not like Helloween’s Pink Bubbles Go Ape was terribly different from Heading For Tomorrow from a musical standpoint (say what you will about Pink Bubbles… title and artwork, though), and certainly not on the level that would warrant a “creative differences” press release. But c’est la vie.
Heading For Tomorrow isn’t a bad album, per se, but it, along with Sigh No More and Insanity And Genius, totally pales in comparison to the first three Helloween albums and the next three Gamma Ray albums (Land Of The Free, Somewhere Out In Space, and Power Plant). Heading For Tomorrow is certainly the best of the three Ralf Scheepers albums, but really, this album would be so much better off with Kai on lead vocals (and possibly with Michael Weikath writing songs). Just listen to “The Silence ’95” from the Land Of The Free reissue (maybe a bad example, since it’s still not that great) or “Rich And Famous” from Power Plant.
Of course, there are a few gems here. “Lust For Life” and “Heaven Can Wait” are definite classics; both are in the Helloween single vein and are catchy as hell, a la “Future World” and “I Want Out.” Perfect poppy speed metal that made Helloween so great. The epic “Heading For Tomorrow” is more mid-tempo than “Halloween” or “Keeper,” but is still the highlight of the album (other than the kinda lame “Hey, hey you!” part in the middle). “Hold Your Ground” is solid, but suffers a bit too much from Ralf going into Gene-Adam-with-less-talent spell, but is still a fun little romp (this is the song from Heading For Tomorrow that could have used a rerecord with Kai on vocals, not the sub-par “The Silence”). It’s a good thing that these four songs make up 60% of the album content because…
The rest of the album runs the gamut from Keeper filler to the awful “Money” and “Freetime.” You’d have a hard time trying to sell me Ralf’s vocal quality when I can whip out the “Money” trump card, which is about on the level of bringing a knife to a fist fight. Gone from the filler tracks is the deliberate goofiness that made “Dr. Stein” and “Rise And Fall” classic Helloween tracks, and instead we get songs that are unintentionally goofy (but not in the epic “Kings Of Metal” sense that makes so many Manowar songs awesomely bad) and totally unmemorable.
While this would be a decent debut album for a group of up-and-coming musicians, it’s place among Kai Hansen’s catalog is lost in the shuffle. Why Kai chose to spend three albums wandering in a No Prayer For The Dying-esque Dearth-Of-Idea-Land is beyond most, but at least Kai got out of his funk by 1995.
Kylie’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5