Originally this review has been posted by Metal Pilgrim on his social media profiles on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Metal Blare has all necessary permissions by the author himself to repost this material. Subscribe to the author’s social media pages for all future updates.
In 2016 the army of Helloween fans around the globe held their breath in awe and anticipation after the band’s announcement of their PUMPKINS UNITED WORLD TOUR, in which they brought together the three different generations of the legendary musicians, forming the ultimate Helloween line up.
And so after dozens of sold out shows around the world Helloween’s loyal fans were left with a slightly bittersweet feeling: their fairy tale was over way too soon. And yet it wasn’t the end, but rather a new and exciting chapter for the Power Metal pioneers, and the band is ready to celebrate it with a new album. So let’s take a detailed track by track look at what’s inside the Helloween’s self titled record.
Track by Track
The album opens with a suspicious synth and guitar intro for Out for the Glory, through which the band shows that you are about to embark on a gripping journey and setting a grand mood for the entire record. The intro then quickly develops into a rapid power metal piece – melodic yet vigorous. The track’s rhythm section comprised of a masterful bass performance by the band’s co-founder Markus Grosskopf and Helloween’s longest serving drummer Daniel Löble, creates a tenacious backbone for the song, allowing others to burst in creativity on top of it. By the way, for this record Daniel used the original drum kit of late Ingo Schwichtenberg, thus paying homage to the band’s co-founder. The three singers’ voices sound extremely cohesive together, working in synergy and complimenting each other, instead of trying to grab unnecessary attention. A vigorous high pitch Painkiller-like scream in the second bridge builds up the tension only to burst in a masterful duelling guitar solo accompanied by a precise rhythm guitar work from Kai Hansen. Written by Michael Weikath Out for the Glory is a classic Helloween song and a perfect album opener.
The next track Fear of the Fallen was released as one of the singles to the album. It opens with an enchanting acoustic guitar intro, which, together with a pleasant vocal melody, makes you want to close your eyes and embark on an enrapturing journey through the distant and long forgotten memories. And just when you fall into the trap of this foreword it gets interrupted by a ferocious guitar riff, growing the song into of one the most energetic and assertive tracks on the album, reaching its climax in a minute-long guitar solo. One of the strongest tracks on the album for me personally.
On the follow up Best Time, co-written by Sascha Gerstner and Andi Deris the band brings the light, almost party-like atmosphere back on the table. Its simple and catchy chorus will stay in your head for hours to come. And the song’s lyrics which bring a listener back the memories of the good times, together with a radio-friendly melody will definitely echo with a wide audience, possibly far beyond the regular power metal crowd. In a way it reminds me of Judas Priest’s Turbo in which the band both stays true to itself, yet also taps beyond its usual comfort zone.
Mass Pollution is simply heavy metal at its best. It is rapid and powerful, robust yet not pretentious. It is everything I love the genre for. The song’s simple yet still monumental breakdown will be a perfect head banging moment on all future live shows, whenever those will resume. And its final climax with the call-and-response «Make Some Noise» scream will make an amazing shout alone. Now we just all have to wash our hands and pray that live concerts will happen again soon. On Angels Helloween leans towards a more melodic side and decides to break the standard song structures, taking its listener on an emotional rollercoaster ride with several tempo and melody changes, accompanied by masterful instrumental orchestrations.
The band chooses an energetic Rise Without Chains to close the first half of the album. It opens with a catchy guitar riff which forms the song’s main theme and continues as a running thread throughout the track. And together with a powerful rhythm section, it creates a vivid image of an unstoppable force rising up to the skies, with no powers having even a slightest chance standing in its way. Overall it is probably one of the most uplifting and inspiring songs on the record, and thus is exactly what humanity needs during these uncertain times.
The following track Indestructible opens with a significantly heavier guitar riff, accompanied by steady drum work and a profuse bass line. With a catchy Hard Rock tune this song praises diversity and could well possibly be an allegory on the career of the band itself. With all the ups and downs, line up changes and everything the band has been through, Helloween still manages to not only go on with creating new music, but also continues climbing the new heights, being a trend setter in the Power Metal genre.
Robot King is a rather experimental track which unites the classic Helloween speed and aggression with a modern guitar sound, forming a rather sanguine tune. On this one Weikath proves once again that he is an extraordinary songwriter, who is able to combine the pieces which at first seem absolutely unrelated into a one cohesive mechanism, making them work in synergy and produce a unique outcome. The next one – Cyanide – is a skull crushing heavy metal piece, full of energy and vigour. It is rapid and assertive, and leaves a rather uplifting feeling despite raising some rather complicated issues in its lyrics.
The haunting opening intro to Down in the Dumps sets a grand mood for the song, making it clear, that there is no way this track is going to fall short of being epic. The minute-long intro steadily grows into a power metal masterpiece, comprised of galloping guitar riffs and backed by an unshakeable rhythm section. Down in the Dumps is a quintessential Helloween track which has absolutely everything fans love the band for. It is perfectly balanced, with just a right amount of epicness, vigour and melody in it. A perfect song to lead to the album’s grand closer.
Helloween’s monumental opus, which was released as a single in April is introduced by an instrumental piece Orbit, which purpose on the record is rather simple: to work as a bridge and to build up the listener’s expectations for the grand finale. And it is grand indeed. Skyfall is a masterpiece all throughout, starting with its enchanting melodic intro which quickly grows into a rapid and vicious guitar riff and its masterful rhythm section; going into a slow melodic bridge, which lets you breath for a moment, just to get swept away by the powerful chorus in which the singers unite their voices in perfect synergy. The duelling guitar solo in which the guitarists showcase their masterful skillsets is simply mind blowing. And the enchanting final bridge together with the song’s closing theme makes you want to long for more, and thus making it a perfect ending for a flawless record.
Overall Helloween’s self titled album is Power Metal at its best. All 5 of the band’s songwriters add something absolutely unique to the mix, making this record diverse yet cohesive. Helloween simply know how forge power metal, and so that’s exactly what they do here. So if you are a power metal fan, I have absolutely no doubt you will love this record. And if you are new to the genre, I still stand firm on my opinion. But please do let me know in the comment section what you thought of the album’s singles, and if you are watching this when the album is out – what you think of it. And don’t forget that next week we will be welcoming Helloween’s guitarist Sascha Gerstner on the show, so don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to not miss it.
Verdict: it’s Helloween… and it’s Helloween at its best! What kind of grade do you expect? Just go and get the album if you haven’t yet