Helloween
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I


5.0
classic

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
November 8th, 2009 | 114 replies


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Undoubtedly the greatest power metal album ever released. You don't even need to listen to any other power metal albums, because they sound exactly the same as this except not as good.

After their self-titled debut EP and first full-length Walls of Jericho, Helloween was going to experience a change, and a big one at that. Co-founder and creative leader Kai Hansen, who had been handling both vocal and lead guitar duties up to the band’s first two outputs, experienced strain and felt he could no longer bear the burden of two departments. Stepping away from the microphone, Hansen and his fellow band mates went looking for a brand new singer.

Little did they know that this was going to radically reinvent their sound.

For a very interesting twist of fate happened to overcome Helloween. As they went looking for a vocalist, one particularly caught their interest: the then-18-year-old Michael Kiske. Being already in a band called Ill Prophecy, Kiske initially turned down the band’s request to be their new front figure, although he eventually yielded to the temptation of fame and success, which he very well might find in the more established band.

But Kiske was not in the slightest bit similar to Hansen. Where the former had employed a very raw tone, Helloween’s newest addition completely turned the tables. He was an operatic-sounding singer, very similar to the likes of Bruce Dickinson (probably able to reach some even higher notes than him, but inferior as far as range and intonation are concerned), and with him, Helloween was already sounding like an immensely different band.

That doesn’t mean the instrumentalists were doing their tricks over again, however. In fact, the band’s first release with Kiske, Keeper of the Seven Keys (Part I) was going to be a genre-founding milestone. In order to eventually achieve such influence, Helloween began incorporating more melody and less gruffness in their sound, moving away for their early NWOBHM inspirers. Adding to this the brand new vocals, it is the first Keeper is where this band truly began to play what would become known as power metal.

And Keeper I is not just one of the first and founding power metal albums. It accounts to the genre’s very classics, and has been far more often put superior in comparison than it has been equalled or bested. Keeper Part I may actually just be THE quintessential work in its field, and that is for a great number of reasons.

For starters, Hansen’s compositions are nothing short of formidable. Responsible for almost all of the material on the album, he knows how to enthral the listener with catchy riffs, melodies and harmonisations, silly but funny lyrics and impressive shredding solos. Variation is abound in enough measure, and the order of the tracks is well-placed. Although Keeper runs at only 37 minutes, all of those are made full use of by the band, who luckily chose not to bother with decent but irrelevant material to fill up the gaps. The album's main portion is fitted between the less-than-two-minute intro and outro, Initiation and Follow the Sign, respectively. Those obviously fail to fall into the essential category, but serve their purpose extremely well in the context of the album. The real opener I’m Alive leaves no doubt about the actual quality, opening with a shredded riff that has an indescribable power in it. The rest of the song sums up the features of the album very nicely: Kiske’s high vocals, which are very impressive, especially during the chorus, catchy melodies and harmonies, a pounding drum beat provided by the underrated Schwichtenberg and over-the-top soloing. In short, Keeper Part I has everything a classic power metal album needs.

The remaining 5 tracks each hold their own and never fail to keep up the consistency. Next to the mainly Hansen-penned material, both Kiske and Weikath get their shot at a song, A Little Time and A Tale That Wasn’t Right, respectively. The former, which takes a more real-life lyrical perspective than the fictional-themed songs dominating the album, turns out to be an undisputed highlight, with its vocals (including the brilliant thickly-accented backing vocals during the chorus) providing the main appeal. The latter is a ballad, and while perhaps the weakest track present (once again showing Weikath’s inferiority to Hansen’s writing talent), it is about as great as a ballad from the genre gets. The only complaint is that Kiske might have wanted to consider stepping away from his operatic style for the song, as the vocals get too dramatic for the song's own good.

Twilight of the Gods is positively upbeat, and Future World is insanely catchy, but Helloween leave the best for the last: the mega-epic Halloween, clocking at more than 13 minutes. Without doubt, it is the band’s very best creation of their career, and also one of the genre’s. The iconic ‘AAAAAAH, it’s Halloween!’ chorus, the best guitar interplay and solos on the album, the continued silly lyrics, it all comes together in this very, very well-executed song (best part: starts as soon as Kiske sings ‘It’s shining on meeeeeeee!’). Fitting as it is, their almost title track truly defines and epitomizes Helloween.

It is almost a shame then, that they would also reach their peak so early, only with their second full-length. We would get a so-called sequel, of course, but due to Hansen’s lesser and lesser involvement with his band, that would turn out to be an major disappointment, leading to the eventual demise of what was shortly one of the best bands in power metal. Part I of Keeper of the Seven Keys still proudly stands as that band’s ultimate legacy, and that will remain so. An essential album for any metal fan.

Yoda recommends:

Halloween
I’m Alive
A Little Time
Future World


- Michael Kiske ~ Lead Vocals
- Kai Michael Hansen ~ Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Michael Ingo Joachim Weikath ~ Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Markus Grosskopf ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Ingo Schwichtenberg ~ Drums




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user ratings (604)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
facupm (5)
Power Metal's best...

sonictheplumber STAFF (3.5)
Keeper of the Seven Keys is a good album, but not the classic that it's hailed to be....

Mike Stagno EMERITUS (4.5)
...

peruviantrooper (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I promised you the Keepers, and the Keepers you will get.

Summary borrowed without permission from rasputin's Nightfall in Middle-Earth soundoff.

Greggers
November 8th 2009


2375 Comments


I always enjoy reading your reviews Nag, nice work

LepreCon
November 8th 2009


4150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Never got into Helloween, but have been meaning to for some time. Your reviews are dead-on accurate so perhaps I will use your opinions as a guide for getting into bands I have yet to try. Pos'd

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you both. And as for you Conor, I didn't like them at first either. Listen to this one some more and you might change your mind. Plus, seeing as you like both Priest and Maiden, you should like this.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2009


8387 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

awesome review as always, and I'm finally happy to say these words towards your review Nag: I'm gonna check it out!

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

FINALLY.

I thought the day would never come.

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gents, I have just earned my first neg because some bloke did not like my summary.

It was meant as a joke, mate.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2009


8387 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah Nag, it's almost midnight here so i won't get it today, but I'll get it tomorrow for sure. I'll get back to you about it in a couple of days.

also, what the FUCK Userword? you do know the criteria is is the review well written, not if you like the summary. Goddamnit people are dumb.

XulOnerom
November 8th 2009


1818 Comments


^ You negged an excellent review just because he had an enthusiastic summary?? What a turd. I'll give my pos.

I actually prefer Keeper Part II and The Dark Ride over this one (actually TDR is my fav power metal album), but this one is excellent, even if Ky Kiske's voice is a bit annoying at times. Helloween is one of the very few power metal bands that I like

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok then.

FOR EVERYONE'S ATTENTION! THE SUMMARY IS TO BE TAKEN WITH A GRAIN OF SALT!

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2009


8387 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well I don't think everyone who reads that will know it's a joke. Especially if they never read that ass-hat Rasputin's ratings.
oh just get your head out of your ass is all I can say

XulOnerom
November 8th 2009


1818 Comments


I think the summary is actually pretty true. Most power metal bands sound like Helloween, but not as good. I wish I could give you another pos just for the summary alone

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Or maybe I should tell the mods about the fact that Userword doesn't quite comprehend when to neg a review.

And yes Xul, but that's pretty logical because they basically invented the genre.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2009


8387 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

if you want to bother then why not. I mean, it's at least good he took the few seconds of his life to say why he negged, but that may have just been the most idiotic reason to neg, I have ever read.

hydeyomoney
November 8th 2009


934 Comments


just be happy you got your first neg this late in the game dawgie.

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Metalstyles speaks the truth.

Why thank you Userword, you are too kind for pointing that out. I'm sure you could have negged for that little typo if you hadn't already for the summary.

TricksterGRex
November 8th 2009


2087 Comments


and userword continues to prove he is the worst poster with the gayest taste in music on the site

XulOnerom
November 8th 2009


1818 Comments


I think it says somewhere in the site that the mods won't remove a single neg, no matter the reason, so it's a shame.

Also, in the future, every single person looking to get into power metal will look at your review and read the summary. Then they will heed your advice without question and will avoid listening to any other power metal album. And thus this album will be the only power metal album that will sell copies in the future, thus leading to a worldwide economic downfall (because 64% of the world's economy depends on power metal album sales) that will in turn lead to some more bad shit happening... and thus, the human race will come to an end. Luckily, Userword negged this review, therefore preventing all this from happening

So, are you doing Keeper Part II???

hydeyomoney
November 8th 2009


934 Comments


its one neg, nothing to bitch about.

Nagrarok
November 8th 2009


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lol at that. And yes, of course I'll do Keeper II, will post tomorrow if I can find the time to write it. I will receive a rather... different rating.

And I wouldn't bitch about the neg normally, but it's the reason why he negged. If you think I deserve a neg, fine with me. But please base it on proper grounds.



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