With their sophomore effort, Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt 1, German metal band Helloween helped set the foundation for the European power metal scene. Excellent tracks such as I'm Alive, Twilight of the Gods, and most importantly, Halloween showcased some of the genre's most important elements such as powerful, melodic riffs and leads, speed, and high pitched vocals. A year later, Helloween released the follow up album, Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt 2. Like its predecessor, the second Keepers album is hailed as a classic, even today. This new album was also very important in sending power metal off towards the right direction, and is very influential.
As both Keepers albums were supposed to be combined into a double album, the material starts up right where the Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt 1 left off. Majestic sounding harmonies and leads, fast riffs, excellent double bass, and high flying vocals are all able to call Keepers Pt 2 home, just as they did on the previous effort. This sound is performed with a great deal of expertise on songs like Eagle Fly Free, You Always Walk Alone, I Want Out, and of course, the monumental Keeper of the Seven Keys. Though it met little change from the previous effort, the music still sounds very fresh and enjoyable. The album's sound itself does not get tiring throughout its 53 minute length (54 if you include the minute-long intro song), something that negatively affects some future albums such as Pink Bubbles Go Ape.
As mentioned in the last sentence, Keeper of the Seven Keys is 53 minutes long, due to the addition of 4 songs. This is a step up from the 34 minutes that mad up the previous album. You certainly got you money's worth with Keepers Pt 1, but this album feels like a much better buy, with an extra 20 or so minutes tacked on. The longer song list on the album allowed Helloween to fool around in the studio, an opportunity they took advantage of. Everybody who knows Helloween knows they enjoy writing silly songs with silly lyrics and silly sound effects. The Walls of Jericho album had Gorgar (and the album's intro chanted "Happy, happy Helloween" over and over). Then there's the Pink Bubbles Go Ape album (Is any explanation needed? Just look at the album cover), Heavy Metal Hamsters off Pink Bubbles Go Ape, and even Mrs. God off the new album. The list goes on and on. Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt 2 contains two of these tracks, the annoying, bad Rise & Fall, and the classic Dr. Stein. I bet you don't need me to tell you which I prefer. Despite being more of a joke track, Dr. Stein is still a great song. Humourous lyrics mixed with some solid guitar work and very effective vocals help make this a memorable track. I'd have to say that this is probably my favourite of Helloween's outtakes.
Once again, Michael Kiske supplies the band with a superb showing, cementing himself further into heavy metal history. He delivers memorable performances on many of the songs, including Eagle Fly Free, Dr Stein, I Want Out, March of Time and Keeper of the Seven Keys. He is particularly strong on the choruses, where he is given the chance to let loose some longer, higher notes, which are insanely catchy. Much like the Bruce Dickinsons and Rob Halfords of the world, Kiske adds another dimension to the band's sound. Easily one of power metal's greatest vocalists.
Along with the Pt 1, Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt 2 is Helloween's claim to fame. It was their last album of the 80's and also their last memorable album for quite some time. In 1989, guitarist Kai Hansen left the band and went on to form the power metal powerhouse, Gamma Ray. Thank goodness for that decision, as Helloween went through some rough times in the early 90's, experimenting with a more hard rock-ish sound. It was through this period that fans clutched Helloween releases such as this very tightly. Overall, the band delivers with their third full length album, and is recommended to all.
Keeper of the Seven Keys
Eagle Fly Free
I Want Out
March of Time