Helloween
Helloween


3.5
great

Review

by Fernando Alves STAFF
June 17th, 2021 | 103 replies


Release Date: 06/18/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The celebration of two eras.

The announcement in November 2016 that Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske would rejoin Helloween for a world tour took the metal community by storm. At last, we would get to see once again on stage a substantial part of the line-up that wrote one of heavy metal's most iconic and influential chapters. And even though it would be impossible to reproduce the chemistry of old without the late Ingo Schwichtenberg behind the drum kit, the fact that Kai and Kiske would be back on stage with Markus and Weikath was cause for celebration. In this sense, the 'Pumpkins United World Tour' was a nostalgic experience for metalheads who, like me, grew up listening to Walls of Jericho and Keeper of the Seven Keys (I and II), both responsible for laying the foundations of speed and euro power metal. Out of the band's heyday, I would highlight Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II, which I regard as a masterpiece of the genre, on par with classics such as Powerslave or Operation: Mindcrime. There's a special kind of magic to this album that mirrors not only the soul of an era but also one of the happiest times of my life. Helloween aims to recapture that look and feel by reconciling human, musical, and technical aspects, either using Ingo's original drum kit or via its fully analog recording. This "back to the roots" revival and its bridging with the Deris-era are thus the ultimate goals of Helloween's new chapter.

This spirit of compromise was embodied in both singles that preceded the album's release. While 'Fear of the Fallen' emanates Deris-era's vibes, Kai Hansen's twelve-minute epic, 'Skyfall', harks back to Keeper of the Seven Keys' memorable title track. Despite their different approaches, both coexist peacefully in the same soundscape, just like two complementary tones that touch each other in the middle of the composition. Opener 'Out for the Glory' is another moment that takes us back to the eighties through its 'Keeper meets Walls of Jericho' formula, in which we can enjoy Kai Hansen's Jericho-ish vocals that contrast with the 'Eagle Fly Free-esque' chorus that predates it. This segment, along with 'Skyfall', is probably the album's most nostalgic moment and the template that, in my opinion, the band should have followed throughout Helloween. That is, the blending of different aesthetics in the same song. Something that would enhance some contrast while adding some audacity to the songwriting. Instead, we are faced with songs that express the individual character of each protagonist rather than a common feeling. Even knowing that reconciling several egos is no easy task, the producer must find a way to make it happen.

Despite my previous remark, it is important to note that Helloween has enough ingredients to please both old and new fans. While old-timers like me are sure to cherish a song like 'Best Time', which isn't too far off from 'I Want Out', or the ferocious chorus of 'Down in the Dumps'; younger listeners will gladly welcome tracks such as 'Cyanide' or 'Rise Without Chains' that mirror the best of the Deris-era, with the latter even featuring nuances of the band's classic period. The harmony guitar lines, and split solos, are also among the album's highlights as they effectively reflect not only one of Helloween's strengths but also their most recognizable trademark. And even the three-singer formula, which could have turned into something burlesque and cartoonish, works relatively well, much like the live outcome.

Overall, the lads did a good job, I can't deny it, but there is a difference between good and great; between what we expect and what we get. It's one of those inevitabilities that we must learn to live with. In addition to the lack of some creative flair or greater artistic audacity, there are some songs like 'Robot King' or 'Indestructible', which although not mediocre, have a rather trivial songwriting; and even a track like 'Down in the Dumps', that features a powerful chorus, has a relatively poor structure, relying basically on one big multisided chorus. At the risk of being unfair, I would say the album has some 'b-side' tracks that somehow undermine the overall result.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what each of us is expecting from this pumpkin gathering. Should nostalgia and sheer entertainment override creativity, passion, and artistic relevance? As far as I'm concerned, as much as I enjoyed seeing Kai, Kiske, and Weikath together again, I felt neither the magic nor the spontaneity of old, and to be honest, I didn't expect it either. The boys became men, and no longer possess the fire or enthusiasm that shaped their glorious past. However, this inevitability is by no means synonymous with mediocrity, since Helloween is indeed an enjoyable release that, to some extent, gathers the band's various chapters while simultaneously celebrating two eras. And even if the pumpkin magic isn't what it used to be, we should all rejoice, for one of heavy metal's most iconic collectives is back on stage, and I already have my front row ticket.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2021


16810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll have to say I expected a little more yet it's still a damn good release, and it's nice to see some of my heroes back together again.

The album comes out this Friday and will be available on all streaming platforms.

Digging: Cradle of Filth - Existence Is Futile

budgie
June 17th 2021


26824 Comments


now this is podracing

Poet
June 17th 2021


6097 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really need this to be good.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2021


15242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Considerably pumped for how good this is.

ChaoticVortex
June 18th 2021


1224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So glad to hear this is consistently good and not just a couple of tracks.

InFlamesWeThrash666
June 18th 2021


10217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very fun album



Dunno why they left Golden Times as a bonus track though. It's one of the best songs here

Digging: Every Time I Die - Radical

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2021


16810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't heard Golden Times or Save My Hide yet, they weren't included in the label promo. I'll check today.

Elynna
June 18th 2021


1019 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds very promising. I’ve always had a soft spot for this band.

Digging: The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus - The Gift of Tears

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2021


15242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

—consistently good and not just a couple of tracks—



No this is more or less across the board. The highs aren’t super high, but fuck me if they haven’t brought the goods here.

Elynna
June 18th 2021


1019 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Now this I can get behind. A seriously impressive return to form

Nerdurosis
June 18th 2021


525 Comments


this is absolutely their best in years, holy shit

valek
June 18th 2021


361 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice album, even if it is still power, wich doesn't have much room to surprise me nowadays, i enjoyed it.

Sowing
Moderator
June 18th 2021


39348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Never heard these guys should I start here

Digging: Biffy Clyro - The Myth of the Happily Ever After

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2021


16810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I would suggest you listen to the track 'Ride the Sky' (from Walls of Jericho) first, to get a taste of the guys' speed metal roots. Then take a peek at both Keeper of the Seven Keys (their masterpieces), and skip to The Dark Ride, to experience another period of the band (Deris-era).

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2021


16810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bonus tracks Golden Times and Save My Hide:

http://youtu.be/g4uAWJn3mWY

http://youtu.be/cSOqyZduU7E



Both solid. Early-MSG fans should take a peek at Save My Hide.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2021


16810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for reading.

DioFan05
June 18th 2021


25 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So I'm a really big fan of Helloween's prime era (especially Ride The Sky, Halloween, and I Want Out) and this was just a really good album. Seems like they're pleasing the fans on their way out, sorta like Maiden is doing. Which honestly, compared to what Metallica has been doing, I vastly prefer. Their best since Keeper of the Seven Keys II.

bloc
June 18th 2021


66629 Comments


This band showed up as my Moon Sign on Spotify so I think this deserves a listen

Digging: Lloyd Banks - The Course of the Inevitable

bigguytoo9
June 18th 2021


1149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I really enjoy Out For The Glory, Robot King and Skyfall off this album

Poet
June 18th 2021


6097 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I really need this to be good."



Thankfully it ended up being good!



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