HELLOWEEN

"Straight Out of Hell" (SPV / Steamhammer; 2013)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Ah, Helloween. When you need a power metal fix and nothin' else will do, cue up Helloween, morph into your best heavy metal face and power stance and don't forget to point to the sky or to your imaginary fans as you hit the high notes. This is the fourteenth disc from these German head wreckers, 1985's "Walls of Jericho" started it all and who knows where it will all end. I hadn't listened to Helloween in a long time, it must have been since last October (that was a joke for those whose synapses are still firing).

"Straight Out of Hell" is aptly named because these guys strike with a metal hammer and keep pounding your ears into submission. Andi Deris has a great metal voice when he soars to the high notes, the lead and rhythm guitars and drums create a huge wall of sound that moves closer and closer to your unknowing existence and then they mow you down with an awesome assault. Most of the songs start fast, gallop along and end with a blast, just the way power metal should. The more things change it's good to know that Helloween will never be swayed. Solid power metal is what they're about.

Helloween aren't just about doom and gloom. They have a side that shows tribute to the fallen musicians who moved them. The track "Wanna Be God" is dedicated to Freddy Mercury of Queen and "Burning Sun" is dedicated to Jon Lord. Both tracks are awesome in their own right. Every power metal band needs a ballad and "Take Me In Your Arms" fills the script here. Helloween also have a track titled "Asshole" which could be an anthem for everybody who is annoyed by that certain someone within the lyrics. I can see the crowd getting into this track. It's catchy because its true. Rough Edge rates by guitarsaws, I give this one 3 1/2 evil Jack-o'- lanterns (on fire!).

Helloween: Andi Deris - vocals; Michael Weikath - lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals; Sascha Gerstner - lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals; Markus Grosskopf - bass, backing vocals; Daniel Loble - drums.

For more information - http://www.helloween.org.

"Gambling with the Devil" (SPV / Steamhammer; 2007)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Incendiary power metal band Helloween strike back with full force on the 12-track "Gambling with the Devil." 

Despite the band falling off the metal map on previous releases, songs like "Heaven Tells No Like" and "The Saints" sharpen their metal focus and find the unit sounding as strong as ever. 

Reverting back to the power metal devices that brought them the accolades and praise from the metal community (not to mention that which they had a hand in creating), songs like "Kill It" -- a kick ass power metal anthem -- make this CD a nice addendum to the Helloween catalog. 

If you still play "Keeper of the Seven Keys" or dig Blind Guardian and Hammerfall, now's the time to reacquaint yourself with the trailblazing Helloween.

For more information, check out www.helloween.org

"Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy" (SPV / Steamhammer; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You'd think it would be virtually impossible for Helloween to strike lightning again with their "Keeper of the Seven Keys" concept. The band's lineup has changed so often and so dramatically over the years (infusing them with new talent and, hence, new attitudes and directions) that the chances of Helloween picking up where "Keeper Part 2" left off (back in 1988!) didn't seem very likely.

Then again, that's what separates the legends from the other bands.

"The Legacy" is an instantly addicting collection of epic songs, rolling with irresistible melodies, powered by a huge guitar sound and produced to sound more like an event rather than just a heavy metal recording. Everything here hearkens back to the band's glory days, from the bigger-than-life songwriting, to the sophisticated storytelling, to the mammoth production values. If "Bat Out of Hell" songwriter Jim Steinman were to write a rock opera for heavy metal, it might sound something a little like this.

Then again, that may not be a fair comparison. "The Legacy" doesn't sound like any other band so much as Helloween and what I mean by that is that the CD sounds like you'd expect a Helloween CD to sound like. That may sound like an odd statement but previous Helloween albums have been met with criticism and disdain because they steered away a bit from the "classic" Helloween sound. "The Legacy" doesn't. Instead, it re-visits it, builds on it, and becomes an album that is worthy of the name "Keeper of the Seven Keys."

Don't ask me whether "The Legacy" is as good as "Part 1" or "Part 2" of the original "Seven Keys" saga. It's been too many years between and any analytic comparison would not only be illogical, it just wouldn't be fair. Suffice to say that this CD isn't a desperate attempt to cash in on a past success. Rather, "The Legacy" stands on its own and is a worthy new chapter in the "Seven Keys" saga. And that's no faint praise.

There is one minor complaint and that's that "The Legacy" probably could have been released as a single CD set rather than a double. Of course, then you'd probably have to delete the "Mrs. God" video that appears on Disc 2 and, depending on your point of view, that may or may not be something you'd want deleted.

Finally, I must point out one of the CD's highlights, "Light the Universe." This haunting, complicated duet is buoyed by the presence of Candice Night of Blackmore's Night, whose voice gives the piece an engrossing depth.

Helloween: Andi Deris - Vocals; Michael Weikath - Guitars; Markus Grosskopf - bass; Sascha Gertsner - guitar; Dani Loeble - drums.

For more information, check out www.helloween.org

"Rabbit Don't Come Easy" (Nuclear Blast; 2003)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Helloween, the seminal metal band that blended power, prestige and a touch of cheese in the '80s, have returned, and it feels so good. 

Arguably the Godfathers of power metal, these German powerhouse's latest CD comes equipped with twelve tracks of in-your-face, unabashed metal that will have you digging  through your closets looking for the spiked wristbands and denim jackets in no time. Majestic as ever - and perhaps even more powerful due to a guest appearance by Motorhead's Mikkey Dee on the drums - "Rabbit Don't Come Easy" proves that Helloween is still able to pound out gallant, galloping metal and to get their fans' fists pumping in unison. 

Helloween's 16th (!) album finds the band still 100% metal after all these years. For more information, check out http://www.helloween.org.

"Treasure Chest" (Sanctuary/Metal-Is; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I've never understood why Iron Maiden became so uber-popular when a band like Helloween never did. Sure, Helloween have their own following and they sell plenty of CDs and concert tickets, but they've never became the superstars that Iron Maiden are. I'm not dissing Maiden here, but I am curious. Maybe it's because Iron Maiden has Eddie.

That confusion doesn't fade any after listening to "Treasure Chest," a stunning collection of 29 Helloween songs clocking in at almost 160 minutes ("We intended to pack the capacity of the CDs to the very limit," says founding member Michael Weikath). Slap this CD into your player and see if you don't agree. 

Helloween play the same kind of fast metal that Iron Maiden does but you'd never confuse the two. Their sounds, although similar, are easily told apart. Helloween seems to be the more melodic of the two, although their pure metal power is never diminished. In fact, if Helloween has one thing up on Iron Maiden, I'd say it's the band's consistency. Their older stuff sounds as good as their newer stuff and vice versa. Can't really say that about Maiden's classic "The Trooper" and their new "The Wicker Man."

Put together by the bandmembers themselves, "Treasure Chest" spans Helloween's entire career, and features five remixes by producer/engineer Charlie Bauerfeind ("Murderer," "Starlight," "Ride The Sky," "Keeper of the Seven Keys" and "Dr. Stein"). Also included is an extensive history of the band with rare photographs and, more importantly for you metal historians out there, a family tree that traces the band from its days as Gentry to Helloween/Gamma Ray. There's also a complete discography which really pisses me off because it makes me realize how much Helloween music I don't have!

My hunch is that if you're not a Helloween fan, you will be by the time you finish listening to just the first disc of this set. If you are a Helloween fan, you're gonna want "Treasure Chest" for your collection. By the way, this CD is also available as a limited 3-CD set with 11 additional tracks.

For more information, check out www.helloween.org

"The Dark Ride" (Noise International; 2000)

Reviewed by TBJ

I can't say I was ever a Helloween Fan. I've only heard the "Keeper" albums and they just reminded me of a gentler version of Iron Maiden. Something I've always complained about power metal was the fact that - aside from a few noteworthy bands (Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, of course) - they were all too "happy" for my tastes. Metal is supposed to be pissed off, isn't it?

I always thought of Helloween as a cliché Merry Metal band, up until this release. They have converted me. I mean, the poppy melodies are still there, but there is just something about the music that just grabbed me. Maybe it's Andi Deris' surprisingly gruff vocals (in some parts), or those twin guitar harmonies, or hell, maybe the album cover is their best yet!! I don't know, it just kicked my ass all over the place from the first notes of "Mr. Torture" to the epic "The Dark Ride."

It seems the men in Helloween have found a whole new meaning to their existence. They have updated their sound without losing any of their trademarks. This is a tough feat, but I say they just might have succeeded. Producer Roy Z has helped beef up the guitars, heavy up the drums and bass, and help Andi Deris explore many other sides of his already fine technique. 

I know some people will always say "the old ones are better," but a far as I'm concerned, "The Dark Ride" is an almost classic and they have made me a believer, and I just can't wait for what they'll come up with next.

Helloween: Andi Deris (Vocals); Michael Weikath (Guitars); Roland Grapow (Guitars); Markus Grosskopf (Bass); Uli Kusch (Drums)

For more information, check out www.helloween.org

"Metal Jukebox" (Sanctuary/Metal-Is; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It seems like very metal band out there has released, is releasing or is planning on releasing a CD containing a batch of covers as a nod to their influences. While some are very good, some are very bad and, sadly, most are kinda boring.

"Metal Jukebox" definitely never falls into the bad or boring category, but it seldom slips definitively into the good category either. It's a very  competent recording - a band like Helloween can't help but display their impressive talents - but it lacks any real punch, either. It almost seems like the band is trying to hard to be respectful to the acts whose songs they are covering. A little twist here and a punch there would have enhanced the CD.

Don't get me wrong - it's a kick to hear Helloween cover Jethro Tull, Faith No More, Cream and Abba(!). The band's cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" is probably the best you're going to hear outside of Bowie himself and their version of The Beatles "All My Loving," with its kick-ass Helloween guitars and bass throbbing away in the background, is very cool. But, if you're new to Helloween, I'd stick with some original material first (especially the incredible "Treasure Chest" best-of collection), then maybe go back and re-visit "Metal Jukebox" later. If nothing else, "Metal Jukebox" is fun to listen to. 

The choice of songs covered is worth noting, by the way. Helloween didn't just choose hits that would be instantly recognizable to their fans. They took a few chances as well. A complete tracklisting follows:
1. He's A Woman - She's A Man - Scorpions
2. Locomotive Breath - Jethro Tull
3. Lay All Your Love On Me - Abba
4. Space Oddity - David Bowie
5. From Out Of Nowhere Faith No More
6. All My Loving - The Beatles
7. Hocus Pocus - Focus
8. Faith Healer - Alex Harvey
9. Juggernaut - Frank Marino
10. White Room - Cream
11. Mexican - Babe Ruth

Helloween: Andi Deris - vocals; Michael Weikath - guitars; Roland Grapow - guitars; Markus Grosskopf - bass; Uli Kusch - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.helloween.org

"Keeper of the Seven Keys - Part 2" (Noise International; 1988)

Reviewed by Keith Guillotine

This is the second of two albums which the band originally wanted to do as a "double album." Noise International, however, didn't think it was a good idea and made the band release the CDs separately.

In my opinion, I think the record label was right. Although Part 2 is considered the band's best known/popular album, I don't think it's quite as good as the first. However, it still rocks! This 1988 release is much longer (over 16 minutes more music) than Part 1, which is probably why it's  considered better. Let's face it, more great music for the money is usually "better."

Just like Part 1, the guitar work is outstanding throughout the entire CD. It's hard driving, loud, and what European Heavy Metal should be.

Once again Michael Kiske shows his dynamic vocal range. I guess if I had to compare him to someone it would be Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson.

Track 9, "I Want Out," is my favorite on this one. Don't ask me why. It's a long, psychotic (20 year) story on my part and the Editors at Rough Edge won't give me the space. {Editor's note: Keith, we're willing to sell you the space. Give us a call!}.

Helloween: Ingo Schwichtenberg - Drums; Michael Kiske - Lead Vocals; Kai Hansen - Guitars/Backing Vocals; Michael Weikath - Guitars/Backing Vocals; Markus Grosskopf - Bass/Backing Vocals.

Find out more about their music at www.helloween.org

"Keeper of the Seven Keys - Part 1" (Noise International; 1987)

Reviewed by Keith Guillotine

I'm going to start out by talking about my favorite song on the album - "Halloween." (By the way, there is a warning on the label that basically says that if you spell the song 'Halloween' with an "E" and the band 'Helloween' with an "A" that you will immediately be turned into a big ugly  half-price-selling pumpkin!)

Anyway, the song "Halloween" is well over 13 minutes of hard driving, European Heavy Metal at its best. There are excellent solo licks by guitarist Kai Hansen all through this classic, especially at the end. And Michael Kiske's singing ability shines on this track, as well as throughout the rest of the  album. The video for this song is pretty bizarre as well.

The hit for this CD, however, was "Futureworld." It too rocks with excellent guitar riffs, but - in my opinion (and morbid mind sense)- it takes second stage to the above.

Keeper Of The Seven Keys was the band's landmark release and was a worldwide success. It even did well here in the US.

The band wanted to do a double album with this, but the record label said no. So they added "Part 1" to the title and released this CD.

These guys started in 1979 and are still going strong today. Released in 1987, this album is by far one the best albums put out by any band, anywhere.

Helloween: Ingo Schwichtenberg - Drums; Michael Kiske - Lead Vocals; Kai Hansen - Guitar/Backing Vocals; Michael Weikath - Guitar/Backing Vocals; Markus Grosskopf - Bass/Backing Vocals.

For more information on the band and the history of this CD check out the official Helloween website at www.helloween.org

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2013 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jul 2017 13:44:31 -0400.