Helloween – Helloween
Released: June 18, 2021
Michael Kiske | Vocals
Andi Deris | Vocals
Kai Hansen | Guitar, Vocals
Michael Weikath | Guitar
Sascha Gerstner | Guitar
Markus Grosskopf | Bass
Daniel Loeble | Drums
As with any band who has had lineup changes though their history fans all have their favourite. Dio era Black Sabbath v Ozzy era, Van Roth v Van Hagar or Paul Dianno v Bruce Dickinson v Blaze Bailey era Iron Maiden – just kidding no one prefers Blaze era Maiden… Helloween are no different. The masters and pioneers of the European power metal sound have had their share of line-up changes, but one thing every fan can agree on regardless who was lead vocals the band delivered some truly great music. They’ve never shied away from doing things their own way and getting the pumpkins united for a tour (and a song) was one thing, but this is a new era for the band.
Firstly, and most importantly this album is pure unadulterated 100% Helloween. The band have in the past strayed from the power metal path on occasion with varying degrees of success, not so this time. The first track Out For Glory is a perfect example of this. The united pumpkins collaboration is on full show with this Michael Weikath composition. The veteran guitarist gives a vehicle for each lead vocalist to shine. Andi Deris’ harsher style is in perfect contrast to the great Michael Kiske’s soaring smooth operatic vocals, throw in the triple threat NWOBHM galloping guitars courtesy of Weikath, Sascha Gerstner and the legendary Kai Hansen, a touch of atmospheric synth, the driving rhythm section of Markus Grosskopf and Daniel Loeble and you get a feel for what is in store on the hour long self-titled release. But wait there’s more! Let’s be honest, when it comes to power metal more is always more, in this case the more is in the form of OG vocalist and guitarist Kai Hansen. On first listen his vocal delivery had me reaching for the media release to check if these crazy Germans hadn’t grabbed Judas Priest’s Rob Halford for a guest appearance. No mention of the Metal God just Hansen taking it to the next level. This is as strong an opening of any Helloween album in recent memory.
From that blistering opening, things calm down a little with the second track and latest single Fear of the Fallen. This song is pure Deris, the vocalist put pen to paper and produced an absolute banger! It’s beautiful and complex from the acoustic intro, the chugging riffs into the double threat of Deris and Kiske delivering a rousing chorus, all wrapped up in an orchestral arrangement. On initial listen its hard not to think the band has gone out too strong too early in the album, but subsequent tracks put any doubts to bed. The third cut is fun and uplifting, it delivers positive vibes by the truckload. It’s hooky as anything, the perfect antidote for a world gone mad … “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery” At a time when things change daily and hourly the best thing we can do is stay positive, help those around us who’re struggling and have the Best Time.
If there’s one thing we know about Helloween, they don’t do filler, even the B-sides are killer, such is the case for the Markus Grosskopf composition ‘Indestructible’. The idea for the song came from the energy the band soaked up on the Pumpkins United Tour, the seven together on stage for over two hours, eight feet tall, bullet proof and indestructible. It’s a four minute and forty three second fun ride, oozing positivity. On an album where each track is stronger than the last it still manages to be a standout.
Speaking of standout’s, the final track is an absolute belter! Released as the first single, only Helloween would run with a track nearly thirteen minutes long. I’m not going to use the E word as it’s overused and doesn’t do this song justice. But it is in every sense of the word. ‘Skyfall’ is like four songs in one, at least. It’s the tale of an alien who crash lands on Earth, a rollicking science fiction joy ride of massive proportions. With more layers than Shrek’s onion, the song twists and turns like a heavy metal rollercoaster. It should be noted the single and subsequent video is only a measly seven minutes long, so there’s five minutes of pumpkin spice missing, and believe me to truly appreciate this song for what it is, you have to hear the full album version.
If Helloween made their mark on that other thirteen minute opus ‘Keeper Of The Seven Keys’ with ‘Skyfall’, their authority is without question. There’s no meandering bridge here, each section of the song is deliberate and with purpose, as a listener you’re taken on an enthralling journey. Indeed this can be said for the album in general, I don’t want to use the word masterpiece but this self-titled release can take its place alongside the best albums metal has to offer. Helloween have released some staggeringly great music over the last few decades, this is up there with the best, if not the best.
Happy happy Helloween, this is the perfect pumpkin 10/10
HELLOWEEN – Helloween tracklisting:
1. Out For The Glory
2. Fear Of The Fallen
3. Best Time
4. Mass Pollution
6. Rise Without Chains
8. Robot King
10. Down In The Dumps