Reviewed and live pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Guest contributor: Ulrika Henriksson
Here comes a review of this years edition of Getaway Rock Festival in Gavle Sweden. The festival was jammed with good music like In Flames, Nashville Pussy, Deep Purple, Behemoth, Testament, System Of A Down, Lamb Of God and Iced Earth. The festival was packed with good people that didn’t seem to mind the constant rain during the first day of the festival. Unfortunately, couldn’t we be there all three days because of a broken camera caused by too much rain and moisture but read about Friday at the festival down below.Read the rest of this entry »
Hellish Rock Part II:
HELLOWEEN & GAMMA RAY
Pakkahuone Tampere Finland
The 30th of March 2013
The leading names in German power metal conquered Finland yet again with Hellish Rock Tour Pt II. Hellish Rock Pt II will be crisscrossing the global the whole year, in Europe, Asia, etc. All the three gigs on the Finnish soil were totally packed as over 4000 people had arrived to witness Gamma Ray and Helloween on the stage again. Both the bands truly enjoy a loyal and even a bit of a fanatical following amongst the Finnish metal fans. That could be witnessed at the Tampere show, when the venue was nearly to explode when over 1000 fans had crawled in. Therefore, moving to any side was more or less a “mission impossible” task. The night was definitely full of triumphant power metal as both Gamma Ray and Helloween delivered a fistful of power metal with catchy melodies.
German band Helloween is one of the pioneering forces and most successful bands in the power metal world and its related subgenres. The band was originally formed in 1984 by Michael Weikath, bassist Markus Grosskopf, vocalist/guitarist Kai Hansen and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg. Their early albums KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I and KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS II, which featured vocalist Michael Kiske, are considered masterpieces of the genre. The band went through a large number of changes during the late 80’s / early 90’s. Hansen left in 1988, formed his own band Gamma Ray and was then replaced by Roland Grapow. Kiske and Schwichtenberg were out of picture in 1993 and they were then replaced by drummer Uli Kusch and current vocalist Andi Deris (ex-Pink Cream 69). The renewed lineup re-established the bands popularity and the album THE TIME OF OATH (1996) still remains as their best-selling album to date. Despite the continuous success, the band went through another set of changes starting in 2001. Today the band consists of Deris, Weikath, Grosskopf, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Dani Loble. This line-up has released altogether 4 studio albums and it seems that Helloween is now even more popular than the so-called “heydays” in the mid 80’s. Three sold out shows speaks for itself when the band arrived to Finland in late March as a part of massive “Hellish Rock II” tour which also featured Gamma Ray. In Helsinki we were fortunate to sit down with the bands guitarist/founding member Michael Weikath and discuss about various topics including the current tour, the latest opus STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL, Helloween’s 30’TH Anniversary and re-union rumors… Read on!
We are happy to announce the release of GAMMA RAY (Official) “Master Of Confusion” on March 15th, 2013!
‘Master Of Confusion’ and ‘Empire Of The Undead’ are the first two new studio songs by Gamma Ray to be released after the successful studio album “To The Metal!”
With its 60 minutes of pure and raw Gamma Ray, “Master Of Confusion” is a great way to wait for the new album, scheduled for the end of 2013.
In addition to the brand new studio song, “Master Of Confusion” features a second new studio track: ‘Empire Of The Undead’, showing the heavier side of the band, with an explosion of energy and pure Gamma Ray sound at its best.
The release is not free from tasty rarities: a brand new studio cover versions of British Glam Rock band Sweet (‘Lost Angels’ – “the reason I have joined a band many years ago”, stated Hansen) and a hidden treasure of NWOBHM (‘Death Or Glory’ by Holocaust).
German power metallers GAMMA RAY have confirmed that they will release a new EP called Master Of Confusion on March 15 via EarMUSIC. The EP is actually close to an album as it has a length of 60 minutes, including two brand new songs, plus two covers (HOLOCAUST, SWEET) and six live tracks.
There will be a new album later this year so yes, it’s kind of a teaser and a perfect tool for the upcoming tour, which starts later this month. More news will be announced shortly.
Long-running German metallers HELLOWEEN are offering up track-by-track commentary of their entire new album each day for the next 13 days. Straight Out Of Hell, is due for release in North America on January 22nd.
Check out the first track description, ‘Nabataea’, below:
Helloween recently released the official video for the first single from Straight Out Of Hell. The six-minute opus for ‘Nabataea’ develops on several levels, including 3-D animation at motion picture level. The legendary kingdom Nabataea provides the atmospherically dense reference for the strong first release from Helloween’s new album.
Helloween have documented how this future could look like, or rather sound like, on Straight Out Of Hell. It’s a work full of speed and toughness, with optimism and great joy of playing, featuring complex arrangements, strong hooks and plenty of catchy melodies. Or, to let the facts speak for themself: 13 mostly fast-paced songs that turn out to be impressively multi-layered and will completely delight all Helloween fans, due to the different songwriters Andi Deris, founding members Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf, and guitarist Sascha Gerstner.
Weikath: “Straight Out Of Hell is the consequent development of the two albums before. 7 Sinners was recorded more or less in the wake of Gambling With The Devil, while the new songs are a continuation of the 7 Sinners directives, only a little less doom bound and noticeably more positive. These songs will kick even the laziest listener’s ass.”
Helloween’s guitarist is referring to tracks such as ‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’, ‘Far From the Stars’, ‘Church Breaks Down’, the title track (written by bass player Markus Grosskopf), and the straightforward ‘Years’ – all of them racing through the terrain at full speed. In addition, there is the complex and passionate ‘Burning Sun’ by Michael Weikath, which Deris refers to short and sweet as “one of Weik’s highspeed masterpieces” (the limited edition will feature a special Hammond version in memory of DEEP PURPLE’s recently deceased organ player JON LORD). ‘World Of War’ by Sascha Gerstner convinces with thrashy guitar riffs, demonstrating Helloween’s impressive virtuosity.
Deris: “What’s so special about this band, is the fact that we were always allowed to do anything we wanted, or – even if we allegedly weren’t – did it anyway. Even the at the time slightly tabooed The Dark Ride initially earned us negative reviews, but ended up with multiple Gold Awards. That’s the kind of freedom you feel on Straight Out Of Hell as well – we didn’t let anybody or anything put pressure on us.”
But Helloween wouldn’t be Helloween if Straight Out Of Hell would not feature the band’s other, slightly more groovy side as well. With ‘Waiting For The Thunder’ Deris has – in his own words – contributed “a rock song reminding of the old PINK CREAM 69 tunes”. Gerstner lets off steam on ‘Asshole’ and complements the album with “Hold Me In Your Arms”, a wonderful ballad, providing the desired antithesis to the otherwise extremely energetic record. Speaking of energy: the determination that has always been an integral part of the Helloween camp was captured perfectly by their producer Charlie Bauerfeind at the band’s own MiSueno studio in Tenerife. Bauerfeind consciously created a raw sound, keeping the edge of Helloween’s new songs and working without computer-controlled devices.
“With a world-class drummer like Dani Löble in the studio you don’t need click tracks or computer support”, Markus Grosskopf praises his drummer. “Thanks to Dani, the whole album breathes pure authenticity, which distinguishes Straight Out Of Hell from lots of other artists’ productions. In addition, the new album sounds more compact and homogeneous than 7 Sinners has, and is one of the fastest releases in Helloween’s history.”
Also, there are significant differences in a number of topics Helloween tackle on Straight Out Of Hell. The best example of the ability to think outside the box of pure metal cliché is their first single release ‘Nabataea’, which Helloween’s singer wrote during a holiday. The song is about the legendary kingdom, located in today’s Middle Eastern region, where the first real democracy existed over 3000 years ago. The secret Nabataean city Petra, hidden behind a cliff scenery and only discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, is the origin of many myths and legends.
Deris: “We took the liberty to tell this exciting culture’s whole story, although the song therefore lasts more than seven minutes. Truth be told, if there had been more to tell, the track would have been even longer.”
Straight Out Of Hell tracklisting:
‘World Of War’
‘Far From The Stars’
‘Waiting For The Thunder’
‘Hold Me In Your Arms’
‘Wanna Be God’
‘Straight Out Of Hell’
‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’
‘Church Breaks Down’
Limited Edition bonus tracks:
‘Another Shot Of Life’
‘Burning Sun’ (Hammond version) – dedicated to Jon Lord
The Hellish Rock Tour in 2007/2008 featured HELLOWEEN and their very special guests GAMMA RAY, which played 95 shows in 34 countries and left ecstatic metal fans in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America in their wake. Hellish Rock Tour Part II has been announced and will start in February 2013 in Europe and go around the globe, once again featuring Gamma Ray.
Dates for Russia and Japan have now been confirmed. They are as follows:
1 – Moscow, Russia – Arena
2 – St Petersburg – Kosmonavt
5 – Tokyo, Japan – ZEPP
6 – Yokohama, Japan – Blitz
7 – Tokyo, Japan – Shibuya AX
9 – Osaka, Japan – IMP Hall
10 – Nagoya, Japan – ZEPP
Previously announced dates for Europe, featuring SHADOWSIDE as support, are as follows:
Legendary German power metallers GAMMA RAY will unleash Skeletons & Majesties Live as a two-CD set next month via Eagle Rock imprint Armoury Records. Set for North American release on December 4, 2012, Skeletons & Majesties Live is a near two-hour magnum opus spanning the band’s history and includes classics as well as tracks which were under-represented to date. A DVD version will be released stateside in January. Skeletons & Majesties Live was recorded and filmed during the band’s 2011 European tour at the legendary Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland and is the first properly HD-filmed live video production of the band’s epic 20+ year career.
“The [2011 released ] EP, Skeletons & Majesties, is practically a continuation of our Skeletons In The Closet concept, in other words: new versions of songs which didn’t receive the attention they deserve, as well as unplugged versions of some of our classics,” notes founding vocalist/guitarist Kai Hansen.
The DVD offers up a thoroughly gripping performance, from the dynamic openers “Anywhere In The Galaxy” and “Men, Martians And Machines” to the furious finale/Helloween cover “Future World.”
As a special bonus, to accompany the Hansen-penned Helloween classic on stage, GAMMA RAY enlisted the services of former Helloween frontman Michael Kiske. In addition, Kiske can be heard and seen on “Time To Break Free” and “A While In Dreamland”.
The release of Skeletons & Majesties Live will mark the beginning of an eventful 2013 for GAMMA RAY: After Hansen stayed true to his word and spent 2012 concentrating mainly on his second band, Unisonic, he and his three colleagues, guitarist Henjo Richter, bassist Dirk Schlächter and new addition, drummer Michael Ehré (the Firewind/Love.Might.Kill drummer has replaced Daniel Zimmermann, who left the GAMMA RAY fold on friendly terms) are now focusing exclusively on GAMMA RAY once again. A co-headlining European tour with Helloween has been scheduled for March and will also mark the arrival of a new GAMMA RAY studio recording. Stay tuned for release dates and further details.
“GAMMY RAY will have top priority in 2013,” comments Hansen, “and Skeletons & Majesties Live is the perfect harbinger of this!” Skeletons & Majesties Live Track Listing:
01. Welcome (Intro)
02. Anywhere In The Galaxy
03. Men, Martians and Machines
04. The Spirit
05. Wings Of Destiny
07. Gamma Ray
09. Time To Break Free
10. Rebellion In Dreamland (Acoustic)
11. Send Me A Sign (Acoustic)
02. Dethrone Tyranny
03. Watcher In The Sky
04. Hold Your Ground
05. A While In Dreamland
09. Future World Skeletons & Majesties LiveDVD Track Listing:
01. Anywhere In The Galaxy
02. Men, Martians And Machines
03. The Spirit
04. Wings Of Destiny
06. Gamma Ray
08. Time To Break Free (w/ Michael Kiske)
09. Rebellion In Dreamland (acoustic)
10. Send Me A Sign (acoustic)
11. Dethrone Tyranny
12. Watcher In The Sky
13. Hold Your Ground
14. A While In Dreamland (w/ Michael Kiske)
18. Future World (w/ Michael Kiske)
Who doesn’t remember the crazy “Hellish Rock Tour” in 2007/2008? HELLOWEEN and their Very Special Guests GAMMA RAY played 95 shows in 34 countries and left ecstatic metal fans in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America in their wake! Those who didn’t have the chance to be there, can now breathe in deeply and make the ‘Remake’ twice as unforgettable! The conditions are right: Booking wires are running red-hot for the “Hellish Rock Tour Part II”, which will start in March 2013 in Europe and go around the globe, once again featuring GAMMA RAY. Watch out for the full-on ‘Metal Ax Made in Germany’ and you can start betting on what kind of awesome final Weikath, Deris, Grosskopf & co. together with Hansen have come up with this time!
Michael Weikath: “The atmosphere on stage and backstage was very special last time, we will be repeating the party and are looking forward to the tour already!” … and his former companion Kai Hansen adds: “‘The Hellish Rock Tour’ definitely was a highlight of our band’s history, we’ll absolutely go wild once again!”
The below update on the departure of Daniel Zimmermann has been posted to the band’s official site www.gammaray.org:
You might have heard it through the grapevine already or asked yourself why Dan didn’t play on the recent shows this year.
We are very sorry to announce that since January 2012 Dan has left GAMMARAY to change for a more settled lifestyle that doesn’t take him away from home so often.
Here’s his statement to all of you:
Thank you very much for your never-ending support and the countless magic moments with you during the last 15 years. You are the best !!! (Eh kloar)
Being the drummer of Gamma Ray was an eventful, exciting, challenging and very emotional time and I would never want to miss it.
Now it is time for me to try out new avenues.
Stay Metal forever in eternity
We have waited with an official statement to leave open the chance for a change of heart and because we didn’t really want to start an official search for a new drummer.
Meanwhile, the guy who has played all the shows with us this year has grown so much into the band that now we can proudly present him as our new drummer,
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome …..
Mr. Michael Ehré !!!
Gamma Ray 2012
Michael is already known in the scene for his work with “Uli Jon Roth”, “Metalium”, “Firewind” and his band “Love Might Kill” where he proved that he is not only a great drummer but an excellent songwriter aswell.
We have already started working on new material for the next GAMMARAY album together and we are very much looking forward to enter this new era of the Rays with a fresh wind in our sails and go around the world together with a new, hopefully killer album.
Here’s a recent interview with Kai talking about guitars, amps, modern technology and a bit about Gamma Ray (approximately from 8:15 onward). The new DVD should be out in August, September, October… in autumn. And apparently, Kai checks GR’s Facebook posts, Amazon comments, Myspace….
The self-titled debut studio album from UNISONIC — the band featuring former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween) alongside guitarist Mandy Meyer (Asia, Gotthard and Krokus), bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafiriou (both of Germany’s Pink Cream 69) — will be released in North America on May 22, 2012 via Eagle Rock imprint Armoury Records.
Unisonicwas recorded at ICP Studios in Brussels, Belgium. The offering features 11 tracks, plus a bonus live version of Helloween classic “I Want Out” only available on the domestic edition, cover art by Martin Häusler (Meat Loaf, Gotthard, Helloween, Motörhead) viewable HERE, and marks the first musical union between Kiske and Hansen in 23 years!
Unisonic Track Listing:
2. Souls Alive
3. Never Too Late
4. I’ve Tried
5. Star Rider
6. Never Change Me
8. My Sanctuary
9. King For A Day
10. We Rise
11. No One Ever Sees Me
12. I Want Out (Live)
Check out the band’s video for album opener/anthem “Unisonic” below. The clip was directed by Häusler in Heidelberg, Germany.
UNISONIC released its debut EP, Ignition earlier this year. After the addition of Hansen to the group’s lineup in early 2011, UNISONICcontinued the songwriting process for its debut release, incorporating Kai’s talent for writing great anthemic rock songs into its existing material. Hardly Keeper Of The Seven KeysPart 3, the UNISONIC collective effortlessly fuse the many sides of heavy music they know and love. The band’s music is versatile and takes a broad approach to heavy rock without sacrificing the power and strong, catchy melodies that characterized the band members’ previous projects.
UNISONIC: Michael Kiske – Vocals Mandy Meyer – Guitar Kai Hansen – Guitar Dennis Ward – Bass Kosta Zafiriou – Drums
The following updates comes from Gamma Ray’s official Facebook page
unfortunately we are forced to deliver the bad news that Henjo Richter had a bike accident and broke three ribs and the collarbone, so he will not be able to play on the cruise. Since we couldn’t find a replacement and did not want to cancel the show and leave our fans disappointed, we have decided to play the show nevertheless and give our longtime live keyboarder Mr. Corvin Bahn (Crystal Breed) some extraspace and a distortionpedal for his organsounds. So if you’re on the boat and around 1:45 am hear something that sounds like Deep Purple playing Gamma Ray songs, its us. Hope you’ll enjoy this ‘Show beyond the ordinary’ .
German power metal veterans Gamma Ray, with legendary Kai Hansen at the helm, have been confirmed for the Sweden Rock Cruise, sailing from Stockholm October 6th-7th! The line-up for the Sweden Rock Cruise is thereby complete and looks as follows:
Kai Hansen is one of the most iconic and influential characters in heavy metal history. As the founder and leader of Germany’s legendary Helloween he all but created one of the 80s’ most recognizable sounds, giving life to the new genre power metal. Upon leaving Hellowen, the guitarist teamed up with future Primal Fear vocalist Ralf Scheepers – Gamma Ray was born. The band picked up where Helloween left off and has continued to produce one classic album after the other since 1990, most recently “To the metal” in 2010. Since “Land of the free” (1995), Gamma Ray’s arguably most heralded album, Kai has also re-assumed vocalist duties. Follow-up and major break release “Somewhere out in space” (1997) introduced the classic line-up completed by Dirk Schlächter (bass), Henjo Richter (guitar) and Daniel Zimmermann (drums). This cruise is extremely proud to present one of the most celebrated bands on the metal scene, and one that never fails to bring down the house.
Today AOL Music portal Noisecreep is hosting a stream of the powerful GAMMA RAY anthem, “Brothers,” along with an interview with band frontman Kai Hansen. Check it out HERE!
While not a new track from the band, “Brothers” is the second track from the band’s upcoming release, Skeletons & Majesties, a collection of older and rare GAMMA RAY songs being re-released as part of this special fan-based promotion for the band, including a full-on karaoke contest where fans can enter to actually appear on the next GAMMA RAY album! Check out the details for the contest and more at this location.
Skeletons & Majesties is set for release in North America via Armoury Records/Eagle Rock on May 31. Review copies of the record are available now, and more interviews with GAMMA RAY will be announced in the coming days.
Stay tuned for much more updates on GAMMA RAY over the coming months as the band prepare for their upcoming Summer tour where they’ll be filming in HD for a brand new live DVD/CD to be released later in the year.