Review Summary: Power metal that is actually pretty rad. In 2010, no less!
If Helloween concerned listeners by celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary with a very distinctly un-metal compilation (that is, an acoustic/symphonic reinterpretation of their classic songs), then 7 Sinners
should at least redeem the group in the eyes of even their ficklest listeners. And not just because it features a song titled "Are You Metal?" Rather, 7 Sinners
is a continuation of the recent successes that have made Helloween one of the most consistent power metal bands still around (which is all the more impressive, considering their turbulent '90s era).
Essentially, 7 Sinners
expands on the sound Helloween established on Gambling With the Devil
. While never abandoning the hook-filled, melody based material they have popularized throughout their career, 7 Sinners
amplifies the heaviness to a level one would not usually (ever) associate with Helloween. Compare tongue-in-cheek first single "Are You Metal?" with even 2005's tongue-in-cheek first single "Mrs. God". The difference is striking; where the former is a meek piece carried by frontman Andi Deris, partly due to its poppy structure and partly due to its pedestrian musicianship, "Are You Metal?" is hard-hitting and bombastic. Although keyboards somewhat take away from the heaviness, it's still unmistakeably more aggressive. "Long Live the King" takes it further, incorporating pounding thrash influences into the guitar work, along with the somewhat harsher singing style Deris has been utilizing since Gambling With the Devil
. It's nice to see that when 7 Sinners
does get heavier, it avoids aping Painkiller's brand of speed metal, which although wonderful, has been taken to the limit by Gamma Ray and Primal Fear. "Where the Sinners Go" sees Helloween explore a more mid-paced sound, based around chunky rhythms, while "Far in the Future" works in a massive instrumental break half way through the song.
It's worth pointing out just how cohesive Helloween sounds on 7 Sinners
. While previous post-Kiske Helloween seems to have depended on either instrumental or vocal prowess, but almost never both, 7 Sinners
sounds like a complete effort from the band. Even in the trio of more typical, melodic Helloween tracks, "Who is Mr. Madman?", "Raise the Noise", and "World of Fantasy", listeners are treated to perhaps the most balanced songwriting since the Keepersâ€¦
albums. Perhaps that's testament to Helloween's recent stability. They've maintained the same line up for five years and it's translated into three very confident sounding records, each which has improved on the last. And for a band that has been around since the mid 1980s, that's pretty good. For a power metal band, it's remarkable.