Review Summary: Controversial and much debated album by the masters of Power Metal. Is this a bad album? The proof is in the eating of the pudding.
When guitar player and founder of the band Kai Hansen left in 1989 and problems with record company Noise Records culminated, Helloween
was forced to change heading. One of the most debated and controversial Helloween albums was the result of this uncertain and unfortunate period. The cover art immediately shows the new direction Helloween chose on 1991's Pink Bubbles go Ape. The band not only exchanged the comic book fantasy style for a goofy, anti-metal imagery, but also the eccentric album title hints at a transition. Irony began to predominate fantasy, pop elements penetrated into the metal sound and ridiculous lyrics began to take over. Responsible for the art work was the well known prog rock designer Storm Thorgerson (Hipgnosis). His surrealist, nondescript design however does not match Helloween's style and is even misleading.
This is not a meek, sweet pop rock album as the art work suggests, but a melodious AOR/rock/power metal album released by one of the leading European pioneers of the genre. The signature epic, happy and abundant sound is still recognizable, but the edges are polished and smoothened, maybe to gratify new signed label EMI. Is this a bad album at the end? I don't think so, but according to the standards of such a talented and inspired band like Helloween we all know they can do better. I would like to rearrange the song order to categorize them in four parts, before concluding.
Top quality songs
: After the intro the hit single Kids of the Century
blasts off with a riff reminiscent of Judas Priest's 'Steeler'. This catchy song is compact, well written, energetic and would have suited one of the Keeper albums well. Kiske's captivating voice was still one of the best around in the metal world at the dawn of the nineties: controlled, emotional, varying and unique. Going Home
is a good up tempo metal song in the tradition of Iron Maiden and Scorpions. The funky bass section and intense, vigorous drumming are a welcome surprise on this album where vocals and guitars predominate. Lyrically this song picks up the theme of the weariness of a musician's life. One of the highlights is Someone's Crying
. This outrageous song with high ('Painkiller'-)speed drumming and penetrating riffing bears the true mark of a Helloween classic. Kiske's passionate bellowing sounds impressive, especially at the end of this song composed by Hansen's substitute Roland Grapow! The epic and ambitious Mankind
is a bombastic elegy about modern man's decadent life style. This song needs some time to be fully appreciated, to completely develop it's power.
: The up tempo plain rocker Back on the Streets
is not good, not bad, not ugly.
The pretty traditional The Chance
seems an uninspired power metal song.
: Pink Bubbles go Ape
. The title 'track' consists of Kiske singing a silly mocking folk song, good enough for an ironic smile and a wink. Heavy Metal Hamsters
is the most ridiculous song title ever in the genre, the pinnacle of tongue-in-cheeckness. This is Helloween's version of 'Have a Cigar', deriding the music industry and their excesses. The apathetic, derisory intention is almost unbearable great fun. On Your Turn
, a semi acoustic ballad, Kiske's performance is ok, but over all the song is meek and dinky, foreboding the future sentimental and commercial direction of the band.
: Number One
is a synth-laden, ultra catchy song with a New Wave-vibe characterized by repetitive drums and a sugary optimist atmospere. Although not a favorite of many fans, this really is a great pop-metal song. I'm Doing Fine, Crazy Man
. As the title already indicates, this is rock 'n roll in the vein of Guns N' Roses. A skin deep song you can skip or forget!
: this album is not as bad as fans and critics would like you to believe. It has it's moments of power & glory and it's inexcusable flaws and jokes. Consistency is not it's main characteristic, the album is unbalanced and sometimes pointless or uninspired. The performance of Kiske elevates the album above the average, but also the interplay of the guitar tandem guarantees the quality you may expect. With better (more serious) lyrics, appropriate imaginative cover art and less sugar & bubbles the album could have been a great one. Now it is only an average effort, floating between the all time classic Keeper II and pop album Chameleon.