Euro-metal quartet formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1984. The bands original members were Kai Hansen (guitar, vocals, songwriting), Michael Weikath (guitar), Markus Grosskopf (bass), and Ingo Schwichenburg (drums). Vocalist Michael Kiske joined for 1987's "Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I." Kai Hansen left the group to form Gamma Ray in '88 and was replace by Roland Grawpow. In 1996 lead vocalist Michael Kiske left the band as well but was replaced by new singer Andi Deris. Shortly after the release of "Chameleon" drummer Ingo Swichtenberg also quit, replaced by Uli Kusch (ex-Sinner/Gamma Ray)...and the band forges on...
Well I had a copy of Helloween's debut on vinyl a long time ago. Finding it on CD was impossible until a friend in Germany ran across this double disc that also included the bonus track "Judas." These two albums are more raw and much heavier than anything that would follow. One of the finest speed metal discs ever recorded.
Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys part I (Noise) 1987
1. Initiation [instrumental] (1:19)
2. I'm Alive (3:23)
3. A Little Time (4:00)
4. Twilight of the Gods (4:30)
5. A Tale That Wasn't Right (4:44)
6. Future World (4:03)
7. Halloween (13:20)
8. Follow the Sign (1:47)
Enter new lead vocalist Michael Kiske and Helloween enters a new realm of heavy metal matched only by the likes of their heroes Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Whereas the band's debut put the band in the speed metal category, with "Keepers" there is noticeable shift into what is commonly referred to as European power metal style. As such, Helloween are generally regarded as pioneers in the style, though they are far heavier and tougher sounding than many bands that would eventually fall under the umbrella of that label.
Kiske replaces Kai Hansen as the lead vocalist and frontman of the band while Hansen remains as a guitarist. Michael Kiske has a charismatic and signature voice, much like Halford is to Priest or Dickinson is to Maiden. He has no problem singing with a high, ear-splitting pitch style that matches the velocity and intensity of the music. Crunchy guitars are driven by aggressive drumming and memorable songwriting. Songs like "Future World" and "Twilight of the Gods" are classic tracks. However, the albums standout cut is the epic length "Halloween". The song, which doesn't seem forced despite it's length, features some jaw dropping Thin Lizzy/Iron Maiden-esque dual guitars. As well, in a time when heavy metal was riddled with clichés, Helloween avoids themes of sex and odes to Satan. Rather they stick to gothic, fantasy-oriented lyrics. Of course, those types of lyrics would eventually become the standard for power metal bands to come.
"Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I" is one of the monumental albums of 1980's heavy metal.
"A Little Time" has been recorded by Pegazus on their "Breaking the Chains" album.
Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys part II (Noise) 1988
A masterwork! Simply one of the best Helloween albums ever! "I Want Out" is a bit commercial, but other than that this album shreds from beginning to end. Some of the disc even touches on thrash, but most is straight ahead Euro-metal with excellent vocals. It's amazing really, but this album inspired a whole generation of German metal bands, many who helped keep metal alive through the late 1990's when America had given up on the genre.
Hammerfall along with Kai Hanson did a killer cover of "I Want Out."
Helloween - I Want Out: Live (RCA) 1989
1. "Intro: Happy Helloween/A
Little Time" (4:19)
Essentially the same as Live in the U.K., since it features mostly the same songs. This little EP was released in the States to help promote the band as their single "I Want Out" was gaining the band some success. I suppose the record company thought that people would be more apt to check out a "new" band by buying an inexpensive EP rather than a full length album.
Helloween - Live in the UK (EMI) 1989
Pure heavy metal excellence! Helloween live with both Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. The band was tight, and Kiske simply blew the overflowing crowd away. Of course what heavy metal concert would be complete without the crowd sing alongs and the tid bits of humor in between songs. I guess it could also be said that this is a live greatest hits disc as all the songs contained herein are some of the best Helloween has ever done. Especially cool to hear live is the epic song "How Many Tears." I'm not sure if this one was ever released in the U.S. Recorded live in Edinburgh, Scotland. My copy is a German import.
Helloween - The Best, The Rest, The Rare (Noise)
1."I Want Out"
Great "best of" collection and some B-side tracks. Really a compilation of the first three albums with a few rarities thrown in for the Helloween die-hards. "Savage", "Livin' Ain't No Crime" as B-sides on singles for "Future World", "I Want Out", and "Dr. Stein"' EP. The track listing is good, but I prefer the actual albums to this compilation. However, every know and then I still give this disc a spin.
Helloween - Pink Bubbles Go Ape (EMI) 1991
1. "Pink Bubbles Go
Strange album title. Strange song titles (ie. "Heavy Metal Hampsters.") The music, however, is not that strange, being a slightly less focused Helloween. Hmmm, not their best, but far from being a bad album. I kinda dig it.
Helloween - Chameleon (EMI) 1993
1. "First Time"
Hmm, this is a strange one. Chameleon is an obvious attempt at commercialism complete with pop ballads, keyboards, acoustic guitars and horns. Yikes! Even the cover looks like a pop cover. This is so far removed from the German power metal that Helloween are that I would not have even recognized them if I had heard this without knowing who it was. Michael Kiske and Co. were searching on this one, I'm glad it didn't last long.
Exit vocalist Michael Kiske. Enter former Pink Cream 69 vocalist Andi Deris. As such, a new era of Helloween is born. With the band's last few releases they had moved away from the speed metal and European power metal that they helped to birth and headed in a much more commercial direction. However, with "Master of the Rings", the band returns to their roots, cranking out eleven songs of real heavy metal. To be quite honest, at first I wasn't sure I liked new singer Andi Deris as much as past singer Michael Kiske. However, after a few listens, I began to really appreciate Deris' slightly raspy voice as well as his songwriting contributions. "Why?" is the fine example of his songwriting ability. The song is progressive, melodic and fairly heavy.
Helloween - The Time of the Oath (Castle) 1996
1. "We Burn"
Helloween go back to their roots even further on this one, even evoking thoughts of Keepers with both the music and the cover art. The music is not quite as aggressive, but still another quality German metal release.
Helloween - High Live (Raw Power) 1996
I have mixed feelings about this live disc. On the positive side, the playing is great and there are a good selection of songs from the more recent Helloween catalog. The audience adds quite a bit to this disc as well giving it that genuine "recorded live" feel. Deris does a good job handling "Future World" and "Dr. Stein". On the downside, why does the band virtually ignore it's classic 80's catalog. Sure, there is "Future World" and "Dr. Stein" but where is "Ride The Sky", "Halloween" and "I Want Out"? They surely would have fit as there is only 85 minutes worth of music here, split onto two CDs. "Ride the Sky" and "I Want Out" would have made for excellent encore tracks. Also, despite the fact that Deris has a great voice on the studio albums, he seems to be struggling a bit here. He certainly doesn't suck but I think the normal "studio versions" are actually a lot more enjoyable than these live versions. To me that is disappointing as I tend to like the raw aggression and energy of a live CD Still, I don't think this CD is a waste. Like I said, I have mixed feelings about it. One the one hand it's Helloween live! On the other hand, it didn't blow me away like I expected it to. This one just isn't as exciting as "Live in the UK".
Helloween - Better Than Raw (Castle) 1998
1. "Deliberately Limited
Preliminary Prelude Period in Z" [instrumental] (1:44)
And yet another fine heavy metal platter from everyone's favorite German band. This one even sporting some fast, speed metal songs along with the usual melodic power metal numbers. Great disc! Love the title to the album opener as well.
Helloween - Metal Jukebox (Sanctuary) 1999
1. "He's a Woman
- She's a Man" (3:14)
I really dig these cover albums. My favorite bands generally doing songs by some of my favorite artists. Gotta say though, Helloween's picks are a bit more obscure than some others. The bands being covered are: the Scorpions, Jethro Tull, ABBA, David Bowie, Faith No More, the Beatles, Focus, Alex Harvey, Frank Marino, Cream, and Babe Ruth (who??). The Japanese version also has a Deep Purple cover "Rat Bat Blue". These wouldn't exactly be my choices for covers, but to each his own. Helloween do a fairly good job of covering all these bands. Favorite tracks are the Scorpions' "He's A Woman-She's A Man," the speed metal version of the Beatles "All My Loving" complete with roaring double bass and Frank Marino's "Juggernaut." The Tull cover is a bit lame. "Space Oddity" (David Bowie) sounds very close to the original with Andi Deris transforming his voice into something that sounds very close to David Bowie himself. "Faith Healer" and "Lay All Your Love On Me" are just boring. "White Room" has a nice extended bluesy jam at the end. I wonder why they didn't include Helloween's Judas Priest "The Hellion/Electric Eye," cover off the tribute CD It would have been nice to have. Not a bad disc, but I wish more metal covers would have been chosen-Black Sabbath, AC/DC, or even Iron Maiden. I mean, weren't Maiden partially responsible for Helloween's sound? The 70's retro thing is OK but gets boring rather quick. Also, I wish they would have included their cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" that they recorded as a B-side for the "Perfect Gentlemen" CD single.
Helloween - The Dark Ride (Nuclear Blast) 2000
1. "Beyond the Portal"
I wasn't sure what to think of this disc at first after reading a terrible review and having a good friend tell me he didn't like it. Upon popping the disc in my car CD player, however, I was treated to some of the best and heaviest music I have heard out of this band since 'Keepers.' The band's guitar tones are fat and heavy. The songwriting and hooks are outstanding. The lyrics are a bit darker than in the past, but still retains the interest without becoming cheesy and cliché. "If I Could Fly" was apparently the single from the disc that did well in Germany. I can see why as it is an excellent melodic power ballad with a cool, yet monotonous piano part that starts the song off and runs throughout. This song is not really representative of the whole album though. "Mr. Torture" and "Escalation 666" are both heavy and have hooky choruses that will stick in your head all day.. Overall, I'd say this is one of the best Helloween albums to come out in a long time.
Helloween - Rabbit Don't Come Easy (Nuclear Blast) 2003
Yet another stellar, solid album from Germany's favorite heavy metal export. This album is just as impressive as their last; without sounding stale or like it contains leftovers from past discs. The heavier moments here are brash, fast yet memorable, and the mellower moments are enjoyable without sounding corny or cheesy. Album openers "Just a Little Sign" and "Open Your Life" are both fast and furious and sound a bit closer to the band's earlier works. These songs could only be labeled speed metal. Both are loaded with dynamics and stellar musicianship. The drumwork on these songs, as well as most of the rest of the album, is outstanding. Most of the drum tracks were recorded by Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee. "The Tune" slows things down only slightly, never letting up on the intensity. Each of these songs have a melodic edge to them despite the speed and aggression. "Never Be A Star" is the first song to delve into more melodic, pop metal moments. However, as I already stated, this is done without sounding corny. I actually think this is an excellent track and could easily be a single. Andreas Deris gritty vocals fit the band's sound so well. "Liar" returns to the more aggressive heavy metal of the earlier tracks. Once again Mikkey Dee brings forth some fast double bass work that would send many more extreme bands running for the hills. "Don't Stop Being Crazy" is the first ballad on the album. This is a powerful song complete with orchestration and a nice build up in intensity. This song isn't even slightly wimpy as one might expect from a ballad. This is just a solid CD from beginning to end. Once again, Helloween proves why they are on of the finest heavy metal bands on the planet.
Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys-The Legacy (Steamhammer/SPV) 2005
"Keepers" Part 3? My first
thought was probably the same as everyone else's, "How can they do another "Keepers
of the Seven Keys" without Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen? With only guitarist
Michael Weikath and bassist Markus Grosskopf left from the original "Keepers"-era
band, it is perplexing why the band would want to return to that title, especially
knowing the influence those albums had on the modern power metal scene. It seems
to me that Helloween were setting themselves up to be knocked down. How could
they ever live up to those classic albums? Well, the truth is, that this really
is a good heavy metal CD, even if it could never touch the greatness of those
early classics. Actually this CD could really have been titled almost anything,
aside from "Keepers of the Seven Keys" and it would have probably been on most
power metal fans favorite lists. There really is nothing about this album that
reminds me of the first two, save for the humor of "Mr. God" which recalls the
humor of those classic platters. The title aside, Helloween have delivered the
goods here. There are two excellent epic-length tracks ("The King For A 1000
Years" & "Occasion Avenue"). If the opening track doesn't float your boat, your
probably just not a fan of real heavy metal. Other standout tracks include "The
Invisible Man, "The Pleasure Drone", "Do You Know What You Are Fighting For"
and "Come Alive" which features a smoking lead break. Actually, the entire CD
is pretty heavy. With the exception of the beautiful ballad "Light the Universe"
which features the female vocals of Candice Night (Blackmore's Night),
"Keepers-The Legacy" is a solid slab of molten metal, even if it isn't exactly
what the title might lead you to believe.
1. "Crack The Riddle"
The mighty originators of German power metal have returned with their thirteenth release. Frankly, my expectations weren't real high for this one. While I liked their last studio album, it really didn't surpass or even match most of my favorites from the band's catalog. Helloween haven't been a solid power/speed metal band in many years. With "Gambling with the Devil", the Helloween we know and love have returned. If the opening track "Kill It" doesn't send chills down you're spine, you're probably not a heavy metal fan. This is a fast, energetic speed metal number with screaming vocals and a solid chorus. "Gambling With The Devil" delivers everything the classic metal fan could want; great musicianship, top-notch vocals, superb song writing, catchy hooks, melody that doesn't forsake heaviness and that unmistakable Helloween sound. Frankly I can't remember Andi Deris sounding this ferocious, ever. He simply screams on tracks like "Kill It" and "The Saints". Several songs, such as "Kill It" and "Paint A New World" are incredibly fast numbers, bringing back the speed metal dimension to the band. There are some more mid-paced melodic numbers as well, such as "Fallen to Pieces" and "I.M.E.". The songs are enjoyable as well and give the songs individuality and a good contrast. The dual harmonies and speedy licks are peppered throughout this disc as well. The solo section in "The Saints" alone should convince any skeptic.
It should also be noted that "Crack the Riddle" features Biff Byford (Saxon) as guest speaker.