REVIEW: HELLOWEEN – Skyfall (Single & Alternative Edits) by Metal Pilgrim

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When in 2016 Helloween announced their PUMPKINS UNITED WORLD TOUR, bringing together entire generations of power metal maniacs, millions of fans around the globe held their breath in awe and anticipation of the united Helloween force coming to their country.

And so when the fairy tale was over, and seemed to be completely gone, yet not forgotten, the band treated their fans with an announcement: Helloween will stay together and release a new studio album to mark the band’s new beginning.

After teasing the fans with a short excerpt, the band treated them with the first taste of Helloween’s new self titled album. The first single Skyfall was released yesterday, on April 2nd and is available in two different versions. First one is a 7-minute-long single edit. And the second is a special one for those who do not think that the single edit was too long – a 12-minute-long alternative version. And since I was fortunate enough to listen to both, I’ll make sure to cover the differences in this short review. So if you are still contemplating which Vinyl boxset or CD release to choose, hopefully you will have your answer by the end of this review.

Single Edit

The song opens with an enchanting melodic intro which quickly grows into a rapid and vicious guitar riff. From the opening notes it becomes clear that Helloween is coming back with a bang, luring their fans with an epic and grand sound. The track’s storyline describes an alien landing or crashing on earth and a dramatic chase which follows after.

The sound of the song’s first part is very much reminiscent of that of the Keeper era, with Michael Kiske’s ageless voice working in synergy with the simple yet ferocious guitar riffs and a powerful rhythm section. Speaking of which, Markus Grosskopf on bass and Dani Löble on drums build a solid foundation for the track’s melody on which the other band members are able to experiment and get creative, without sounding to straightforward and direct. A slow melodic bridge lets you breath for a moment, just to get swept away by the melodic yet rapid chorus in which the three singers unite their voices accompanied by the lead guitar theme.

And while that Keeper vibe is definitely still present, the main theme then gets sidetracked in a way for a fan of every Helloween era to find something to enjoy in this track. Slow romantic breakdown in which Kai Hansen takes the lead makes you close your eyes and imagine yourself on that guitar-shaped space ship traveling across the imaginary universe. And Andi Deris’ rusty yet spotless vocal performance reminds you once again why Helloween remained on the Olymp for the past several decades.

The killer bridge with the rapid rhythm section in which the vocalists unite their efforts will make a great headbanging moment for any future live concert. By the way, when the band came to Kyiv during their Pumkins United World Tour I was abroad so I had to miss that show, and so I personally hope that they will make a follow up tour very soon. What about you though? Did you have a chance to catch the band live? If so, make sure to let us know when and where in the comments! The bridge then leads straight into the duelling guitar solo, in which every guitarist gets to showcase once again his masterful skillset.

The old fade-away trick, which was introduced by Motorhead’s Overkill, and was quite predictable actually did not seem cheesy at all. And the band was able to once again bring the main melody to its climax, making you headbang to the song’s chorus even if you did not intend to do so.

Alternative Exclusive Edit

I imagine that for some people 7 and a half minutes might be too long. Yet it wasn’t for me. And since I got the 12-minute-long alternative version from Nuclear Blast I went straight for it. And here is where I got blown away. The uncut version features alternative vocal mix, and that does not simply mean a slight rearrangement of vocals, it’s a completely different line where Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen and Andi Deris all work together on every part of the song. In addition to that, the several guitar solos are significantly longer yet do not sound too overrun. And the song’s grand and epic ending is simply mind-blowing.

So if you are still contemplating wether you should preorder your vinyl, CD or a cassete tape of Helloween’s new album in an edition which offers that uncut Skyfall single, my advice would definitely be to go for it. 

Verdict

Helloween is back! And the band is back stronger than ever. The first taste of the new Helloween album, and especially its uncut version shows that Helloween will deliver a non-compromise record, and I’m very much excited to hear it. But what do you personally think of Skyfall? And what do you expect from the album? Let me know in the comments, I’m very curious to find out!

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