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Helloween - Helloween Award winner

by Kevin Lewis at 11 June 2021, 6:05 PM

HELLOWEEN is a German Power Metal band formed in 1984. Their self-titled sixteenth album is 68+ minutes of epic power metal with a brand-new feel. With the return of Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen, making this a seven-piece band, HELLOWEEN have actually increased the size of their sound, which is hard to believe since they already were mammoth. Helloween will be released June 18, 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records.

There is a lot of interplay between the two primary vocalists, Michael Kiske and Andi Deris, which is an amazing thing to behold. Both vocalists bring something different to the table and their individual times in the band were very different thematically. Helloween is the beginning of the third era of HELLOWEEN. The way the band introduced the fans to this new era was classic HELLOWEEN, they released a 12-minute video for the absolutely epic album closer, “Skyfall”.

Skyfall” begins with a dark guitar tone, overlaid by the bright tones of Michael Kiske singing about falling from the sky. The intro continues, then launches into a classic HELLOWEEN power riff. The rhythm section, as always, keeping pace and driving the song along. The shifts between vocalists, the variable guitar and rhythm patterns and the timing shifts are the very essence of Power Metal, done as only HELLOWEEN can. This song leaves the listener wanting to start the record over immediately and wanting the next record to drop now.

Skyfall” uses all three lead vocalists and features leads by all three guitarists. The lead trade offs are spectacular. The vocal harmonies and shifts are amazing. This song is the culmination of everything HELLOWEEN has been working for since their inception. In essence, this is 35 years of hard work wrapped up in 12 minutes of musical bliss that induces a rapture much akin to a spiritual experience.

Kicking the record off is “Out For The Glory,” a seven minute song that starts with an almost doom sounding intro only to ramp up and hit its’ stride in the main body of the song. Dani Loeble is in perfect form on the skins, laying down a solid foundation. Markus Grosskopf then builds on that foundation with a galloping pattern that really propels the song along. Once again, the vocals and guitars are pure HELLOWEEN Power Metal driven excellence.

The second single is “Fear Of The Fallen”. Beginning with a single guitar and Andi Deris’ voice, the intro leads to another HELLOWEEN standard. The guitars soar over the soundscape and the vocal harmonies blend two phenomenal tones together seamlessly. The way the voices play and feed off each other is reminiscent of some of the symphonic metal out there, such as AMARANTHE, using a variety of tones to create different feels within the same song.

Looking back into the past while demonstrating hope for the future, “Best Time” is old school HELLOWEEN, but bigger. Again, everything on this record is just bigger. The riffs, the hooks, the rhythms, the vocals… they are all massive. “Best Time” is a throwback to the Kiske era and really nails the feel of that time in the band’s history.

Next, we have “Mass Pollution,” a definite Deris era tune, a little heavier and slightly darker in its’ feel. The guitar work is fast and frenetic, building a little angst and tension. The vocals aid with this. Deris does some of his higher screams, really taking the song to a new level.

Angels” is a blend of both eras, combining the elements from early and later sounds. Adding in keyboards, this song feels more melodic, yet has a lot of really heavy tones as well. “Rise Without Chain” uses some killer guitar harmonics at the beginning and has an incredible rhythm underneath that props up the whole thing. These songs are definitely new era HELLOWEEN. They pay their respects to history, but build into something new.

Indestructible" is one of the heaviest songs on the record. The tuning is awesome and the song speaks of the new attitude of the band, being completely unbeatable because they are one. United, they can conquer all. This is the song that fans will listen to and hear the true future of the band. Three guitars, three voices, a rock-solid rhythm and a will to be better than ever before.

Now we get to another epic song, the seven minute “Robot King”. With a bit of a VERY early HELLOWEEN vibe (I’m talking "Walls Of Jericho") at the beginning, the homage to the past is complete. This is a band that has gone full-circle and come out stronger than ever. The use of all three vocalists on this song is new level excellence. The harmonizing is similar to KINGS X, three voices blended and overlaying each other with incredible accuracy and precision. The individual tones mix to form a fist of sound that knocks you out in one punch.

Cyanide” is all new. The rhythm is modern era HELLOWEEN through and through. “Down In The Dumps” is more new era awesomeness. The bit of keyboard underneath the intro riff, coupled with some nice drum fills leads into a full-on Power Metal song with one of the best hooks on the album. And that takes us to “Orbit” a short instrumental that leads us back to “Skyfall”.

This album is straight up “lather, rinse, repeat”. It needs to be played on loop for at least a week to learn to appreciate all that it is. HELLOWEEN has built something immense here. Amping this up to a seven-piece band and using three vocalists and three guitarists over one of the most proficient rhythm sections in the world is almost overwhelming. One of the bands that created the Power Metal genre has just upped the game. The bar has been raised and it is going to take Herculean effort for any Power Metal band to try to equal this. I think the only band that can top it is HELLOWEEN.

Shifting from the old fantasy-based lyrics to a bit more of a sci-fi feel was the most logical step for this version of HELLOWEEN. As iconic as the "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" trilogy is, this could be the start of a new legacy. One thing I am certain of, this tale, and this band, is not done yet. The “Best Time” is yet to come.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  10
Production:  10

5 Star Rating

1. Out for Glory
2. Fear of The Fallen
3. Best Time
4. Mass Pollution
5. Angels
6. Rise Without Chains
7. Indestructible
8. Robot King
9. Cyanide
10. Down in the Dumps
11. Orbit
12. Skyfall
Michael Kiske – Vocals
Andi Deris – Vocals
Markus Grosskopf – Bass/Backing Vocals
Daniel Loeble – Drums
Michael Weikath – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Kai Hansen – Guitar/Vocals
Sascha Gerstner – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Record Label: Nuclear Blast


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