Gamma Ray - Somewhere Out In Space
Noise Records
Melodic Power Metal
15 songs (73:38)
Release year: 1997
Gamma Ray, Noise Records
Reviewed by Kyle

A handful of power metal bands in the 80’s and 90’s, when at their peak, followed a path of releasing two albums consecutively that would be cemented in the future as staples of the genre, paving the path for future greats from bands that take the established sound and push it even further (Though in most cases, these bands are little more than copycats). Helloween did it with Keeper Of The Seven Keys parts one and two; Blind Guardian did it with Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations From The Other Side. Gamma Ray, in 1997, became another famous band to follow this formula, by releasing Somewhere Out In Space after their 1995 masterpiece Land Of The Free. While LotF is a classic in its own right for being such a damn good album on a whole, its follow-up features some of the greatest songs the band ever produced.

This review is very difficult to write, because it’s so hard for me to do Somewhere Out In Space justice using only words; the grandiose quality of the melodies, the variety of songs found within, and the way the album feels like a big budget sci-fi movie that’s been somehow morphed into metal music simply can’t be described. The opener Beyond The Black Hole and Guardians Of Mankind (I believe this is sort of a spiritual sequel to Helloween’s Guardians, where Kai Hansen sung) are the two catchiest songs on the album, both being high-speed power metal chargers with extremely infectious choruses; just listen to Beyond The Black Hole when you’re having a horrible day and, like the band, you’ll instantly be looking towards tomorrow as well. Other tracks follow a more traditional heavy / power metal blueprint, like Men, Martians And Machines, Lost In The Future, and Watcher In The Sky (Which was recorded by Iron Savior yet still appears here because of Hansen’s involvement in the band). Both Men Martians And Machines and Lost In The Future display Gamma Ray’s affinity for taking random, famous themes and injecting them into the music in a manner that’s both silly and skillful; The former incorporates the 5-note tune from the end of the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and the latter makes bizarre use of the song Oh! Susanna by placing the main melody before the guitar solo.

Most of the rest of the songs… well, they can’t really be compared to anything else because they can only be described as a product of Gamma Ray’s own unique style. The title track, one of my very favorites from the album, is a mixture of speedy power metal, thrash metal, and mystical melodies that GR is very well known for; the choir on the chorus will occasionally send chills down my spine when I hear it. No Stranger (Another Day In Life) gives us the best of both worlds, being an epic power metal track on the verse and nearing ballad-levels of glory in the chorus. Valley Of The Kings is also highly deserving of attention, being one of the biggest, most memorable songs of Gamma Ray’s career; I consider this to be the pinnacle of the band’s established sound, the standard to which all songs they produce can be compared. Pray is a very hopeful-sounding ballad that would be very difficult to pull off without Kai’s high-pitched voice; I don’t really consider this to be a power metal song, but that’s part of the beauty of Gamma Ray: They can make any song they damn well please and, chances are, it will end up sounding amazing. As feminine (I can’t really say sappy) as that song is, any ballad haters will surely be pleased with the track that follows, Winged Horse. Wow… what an epic song. The riffing is simply classic, the melodies are utterly memorable, and the band has hardly ever sounded better. This is considered one of GR’s greatest songs by their core fanbase, and for VERY good reason. One last song that I must make note of is Shine On, a very happy sounding song that manages not to sound overly cheesy at the same time. In the latter part of the song, it transforms into a ballad, while keeping the same core melodies that were displayed earlier. This song really deserves more attention for being such an unconventional and catchy track, but admittedly, it is overshadowed by some of the other greats on Somewhere Out In Space.

Though Shine On would’ve made for the perfect album closer, Return To Fantasy comes next and, unfortunately, ends Somewhere Out In Space on a worse note than it could’ve if this track had been placed somewhere else. A great song, sure, but it doesn’t stand out too terribly much and doesn’t end the album on nearly as grand a note as Shine On would’ve. But hardly any album is perfect, and a classic album certainly doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to achieve this status. It does, however, have to be very close, and Somewhere Out In Space lies on the very fringes of perfection. While not as solid overall as Land Of The Free is, SoiS provides us with a slew of great songs, and the most essential songs of any Gamma Ray record. If you’re a fan of power metal of any kind, you NEED to own this; if you haven’t listened to the band before, than this is the perfect place to start.

Killing Songs :
All, but my favorites are: Beyond The Black Hole, No Stranger (Another Day In Life), Somewhere Out In Space, Valley Of The Kings, The Winged Horse, and Shine On
Kyle quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Gamma Ray that we have reviewed:
Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead reviewed by Andy and quoted 78 / 100
Gamma Ray - Skeletons and Majesties reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Gamma Ray - To The Metal! reviewed by Kyle and quoted 79 / 100
Gamma Ray - Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome - Live In Montreal (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Gamma Ray - Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome Live In Montreal reviewed by Pete and quoted no quote
To see all 15 reviews click here
4 readers voted
Your quote was: 98.
Change your vote

There are 6 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:08 pm
View and Post comments