Helloween
Unarmed


2.0
poor

Review

by Mikesn EMERITUS
April 3rd, 2010 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As much as Unarmed is a cool idea, it doesn't work.

Give Helloween credit, Unarmed – Best of 25th Anniversary isn't a mere re-release of the band's greatest hits. The concept itself isn't bad; it's a genuine stab at reimagining a handful of classic power metal songs. The album will undoubtedly be considered anathema by ultraconservative fans, as Helloween explore a variety of acoustic, symphonic, and "jazz-y" (as in, they have a saxophonist) stylings, but regardless, it's a respectable idea. Problem is, it doesn't work. The more cynical among us saw this coming; Helloween's experimentation on Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon was an utter failure. Given that those records were released almost twenty years ago, in a far more tumultuous time of the band's history, one couldn't be faulted for hoping it would be different this time around.

There's some good to be heard on Unarmed…, but unfortunately it's few and far between. That "Fallen to Pieces", off 2007's Gambling With the Devil, makes the smoothest transition shouldn't be much of a surprise. Although lacking the excellent metallic edge of the original, the acoustic arrangement compliments the song's ballad-esque structure rather well. Oddly enough, the same can't be said for the similar sounding "If I Could Fly"; Andy Deris' vocals are far too high in the mix, the strings lack substance and the song fails to convey any of the emotional power of the version from The Dark Ride. Where the new version "Fallen to Pieces" added to the original, "If I Could Fly" simply meanders around before ending.

Of the Keepers songs, only "Eagle Fly Free" is done any justice. The issue here isn't that power metal can't translate into other styles. Helloween just isn't very good at it. Much of "Future World" is over reliant on Deris, whose singing style doesn't fit the song, and the short instrumental break is too unsubstantial to make up for it. "Dr. Stein" is the opposite; the song's heavy usage of saxophone does not mesh well with the song's rocking (and goofy) vibe. It's certainly classier than the original, but considering how silly the original was, that isn't saying much. As for "The Keeper's Trilogy", well, symphonic power metal has always been terrible, and the seventeen minute medley consisting of "Halloween", "Keeper of the Seven Keys", and "King for a 1000 Years" does nothing to change this. Admittedly, the rearrangement of "Halloween" is fairly good; it maintains the track's creepiness and epic sounding structure. But the remainder is nauseatingly fruity in the way only symphonic metal gets, and at seventeen minutes it's almost unlistenable.

"Eagle Fly Free" is the embodiment of what Unarmed… should have been. Stripped down to acoustic guitars and light piano, the track perfects the unplugged dimension, while remaining faithful to the general mood of the original. This is something that Unarmed… ultimately lacks more than anything else. This isn't for any lack of effort; through nine of eleven songs, the results simply just aren't that good. For what it's worth, the only Helloween members featured on "Eagle Fly Free" are Deris and guitarist Sascha Gerstner (the remaining musicians are from rock band, Hellsongs). I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but it's interesting. But as much as Unarmed – Best of 25th Anniversary is a missed opportunity, it sure makes me want to listen to the originals.



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user ratings (63)
Chart.
2.6
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
bloozclooz
April 3rd 2010


1770 Comments


hey there's a cello in the album art! sweet

Willie
Moderator
April 3rd 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Oh god, I didn't know they redid all of the old songs. These guys need someone around to tell them when they're about to release something stupid.

Poet
April 3rd 2010


6005 Comments


had a feeling this wasn't going to be good.

Greggers
April 3rd 2010


2375 Comments


Knew this was gonna be Mikesn before I clicked

Mikesn
Emeritus
April 4th 2010


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Oh god, I didn't know they redid all of the old songs. These guys need someone around to tell them when they're about to release something stupid.
They could have used this through the better part of the 90s. At least this seems to be a one off project

Nagrarok
April 4th 2010


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Knew this was gonna be Mikesn before I clicked




Beat me to it.



Great work and all, I need not hear this after reading the tracklist and your review to see how bad it will be. Maybe a decent compilation from their first three albums would actually work.

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Haha, who else would review Helloween? Gambling With The Devil was actually really good and a big step up from anything they've done in, at least, the last ten years so if they keep following that album things should be good for them.

Poet
April 4th 2010


6005 Comments


Gambling with the Devil is the only album I really like anyways, so I'm actually looking forward to a new one.

sleepyhead
April 4th 2010


593 Comments


as much as i loved this band as a kid, i'm amazed they still shamelessly exist.

agree with the review. most of this is garbage and only keepers trilogy has some interesting parts but thats about it



Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Have you heard Gambling with the Devil? You might be surprised.

Poet
April 4th 2010


6005 Comments


listen to Heaven Tells No Lies specifically. That's my favorite song by the band.

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

My favorite will always be "Twilight Of The Gods" (from Keeper 1) followed closely by "Eagle Fly Free" (from Keeper 2). My favorite from Gambling… is "Paint a New World". I'll have to listen to "Heaven Tells No Lies" again because I'm not remembering it.

LepreCon
April 4th 2010


5451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually like this quite a bit but I can see why you don't like it

sleepyhead
April 4th 2010


593 Comments


of course, i own all their albums! you are right, Gambling with the Devil was a surprise as was The Dark Ride ten years ago (which deserves more recognition) but still...i dunno dude, their songwriting will never be as strong as it used to. A Kai-Kiske-Weikath reunion would be pretty awesome

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Kai can be a great songwriter, but his vocals will forever suck - and as Gamma Ray proves, his judgement of what makes a good song isn't always any better than his buddies in Helloween.

sleepyhead
April 4th 2010


593 Comments


objectively Kai's voice sucks, however i think it fits the songs perfectly in LotF. besides, i obviously meant Kiske to be lead singer (yeah i know his voice aint as good as it used to be, but still...) As for the songwriting, i agree Kai can be hit and miss...so we'd need to rely on Weiki..who is equally hit n miss!

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Isn't Weikath dead? Was he the bass player?

sleepyhead
April 4th 2010


593 Comments


noup Groskopf (spelt wrong) is bass player, Weikath is and always was guitarist and main songwriter (along with Kai up until Keeper 2). drummer, Ingo is the one that died

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2010


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Damn, my Helloween knowledge is more rusty than I thought.

sleepyhead
April 4th 2010


593 Comments


lol i forgive you, although they are (were) one of THE most important metal bands ever!!!



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