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Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy (CD)

Helloween
Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 04 October 2005, 11:45 PM

Whether you're the chief editor of a magazine or not, it doesn't mean shit when it comes to reviews; you ain't superman (or even SpongeBob SquarePants). Having to review an album entitled Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy of a band called… Helloween… is something like going into the woods wanting to do a breakthrough research on how blueberries can cure hemorrhoids whilst at the same time you know the place is crawling with A.D.B.M. (Anal Dwelling Butt Monkeys) but you're not sure if they're here for you or just for the blueberries. Uhum, okay, it's time I wore my pumpkin head on and let the monkeys be for a while because I have a Legacy to talk to you about…
Yes, it's tough to have to review a new Keeper… album, especially when you've always had two camps of Helloween fans fighting for the gold on pumpkin hill. Did I say two? Now that I think about it, make it three camps. There's those who are strictly attached to Helloween's 1985 (Helloween) - 1988 (Keeper Of The Seven Keys - Part II) era which featured both Michael Kiske (who won't sing Metal anymore) and Kai Hansen (who later on left to form another great Power Metal act… Gamma Ray), then there's those who joined the pumpkin militia together with ex-Pink Cream 69 singer Andi Deris' arrival (kicking off with Master Of The Rings in 1994) and have for example The Dark Ride (2000) as their fave Helloween album…and then there's guys like me who are all-around pumpkin fans and don't really stick to just the past or just the future of this band. Surely along the way till today's landmark (is really the new Keeper… album a landmark? - you'll find out soon) there have been misfortunes, obstacles, departures, lame releases (like 1993's Chameleon and 2003's Rabbit Don't Come Easy) but that's only logical when we're talking about a band that has managed (which is a miracle if you come to think of it sometimes) to be around for more than 20 years already and has bonded its name with the true term of Power Metal.
No matter in which category of fans you fall into, the point is that we cannot in any case compare music that's been written 17 years ago to music that's been written today just because it says Keeper… on it. Before I move on with my review, let me just express my personal feeling that even if Michael Kiske was behind the vocals on Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy, the album would still NOT be anything like the first two Keeper… albums. And how could it? I mean, it's music after all, you can't remake something good; good music is unique, it only comes out once and then there's more good music (among the bullshit of course) and so on…
When I first sat down to listen to my promo copy of the new Helloween album, I was as distrustful as many of you will probably be when you slip it in your CD player and hold your finger over the play button. The eternal question whenever you're dealing with a quite known Metal act that's about to put out a new release: Will this like kick ass or will I like have to sell it to some dorky friend of mine tomorrow? So I pressed the play button and… Here's a question for you. What do you make of a song that you listen to for the very first time, it's almost 14 minutes long and to your stunning surprise you find yourself headbanging (or air drumming in my case) throughout its entire length? Well, I simply don't get that everyday, it simply doesn't happen in months sometimes or even years to listen to something for the very first time and get completely blown away by it.
That's what The King For 1000 Years did to my sorry ass and what a better track than this one to start with! An intro (read our interview with Andi to find out who the narrator really is), tons of Helloheavy Metal, changes, choirs (also check out the interview to find out about the choirs too)…I totally love this song and it's been over a month that I've been listening to the new album.
That was more than just great to start off with but after such an entrance into the new album, curiosity grew bigger as to what was to follow from the remaining 5 songs of the first Disc. Markus Großkopf's bass is a key element of this album's (awesome) sound and so The Invisible Man saluted me with its kick-(b)ass intro and then on to pumpkin riffs, just the way fans like 'em, accompanied by the catchy refrain of Here I am, the invisible man. Well, no doubt stuff you like Helloween for so much. Then you've got an even more Helloween-ish song, the way you want it, fast (a la old times) and wacko - I'm talking about Born On Judgment Day which will remind you why Stratovarius used to make you feel that they reminded you so much of Helloween at times… After that you've got one of my album favorites, Pleasure Drone. Deris hits those high notes again and again, just like he does in many parts of the entire album. I always believed he had a remarkable voice and I personally think that I haven't heard him sing like this in quite some time - I mean, there's also moments he reminded me of his works with Pink Cream 69, that certain cat-ish twist in his voice. Then you've got Mrs. God which though I like it (it's catchy), I must admit that there's nothing really profound about it but it is pleasant - not bad. Final track for the first Disc is Silent Rain - which too is of high Helloween quality and could have easily been a song from the previous Keeper… albums (under certain circumstances of course). Silent Rain's rhythm blasts are anything but silent of course. HelloSpeed! Just stick your ear on the drumming… you'll be amazed!
Now, on to the second Disc. Same thing happened to me as with the first Disc. The first track, Occasion Avenue, totally blew me away. This 11 minute epic made me say (yes, I dare say this) Helloween's 'Operation: Mindcrime'. I guess it's the grandiose feeling Occasion Avenue gave me. Latin-chanting choirs, Heavy/Speed Metal, an astonishing Andi Deris, a breath-taking bass shredding by Markus, kick-ass guitar riffing by both Weikath and Gerstner and drumming that rips my head out of my body and plays bowling with it. A pompous atmosphere in a way only a band like Helloween could have come up with.
Light The Universe is a ballad I really enjoyed, featuring the one and only voice of Candice Night (Blackmore's Night). What a beautiful duet she makes with Deris (hm, I wonder what Ritchie Blackmore's opinion is on this, hehe). Nostalgia caught up with me here but no whiskey bottle around…
Then there's two weaker songs of the album (in my opinion). Do You Know What You're Fighting 4? and Come Alive which together with Get It Up could have been avoided in this release and instead of having a double CD, it could have been a one-CD thing. Nevertheless, though not bad songs, they're rather repetitive or short and mediocre. After over a month's non-stop listening madness of Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy, these songs gained the least of my attention (add to this the fact that this album's good songs are really…good!).
Shade In The Shadow and the ending track, My Life 4 1 More Day, are up there with the jewels. I can't get I hear your silent cries, I'm the shade in the shadow, I know your secret lies, I'm the shade in the shadow of you out of my head. Two awesome tracks, with My Life 4 1 More Day being the absolutely perfect outro for this journey though a most discussed album.
To conclude this quite lengthy review (in which I would have written even more things but I don't want to become tiring), let me just say that 1) I haven't heard anything THIS good from Helloween in quite a long time (and no, I never considered The Dark Ride to be something in the vein of Helloween in general - good but not their best thing with Deris), 2) there's great chemistry within the band (at last), 3) Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy definitely contains all-time Helloween classics but 4) it would have been a masterpiece if instead of releasing a double CD, they could have excluded tracks such as Do You Know What You're Fighting 4?, Come Alive and Get It Up and had it released on just one Disc (blame SPV Records?).
- Album Highlights: The King For 1000 Years, Pleasure Drone, Silent Rain, Occasion Avenue, Light The Universe, Shade In The Shadow and My Life 4 1 More Day. The excellent production done by Charlie Bauerfeind.
I know your secrets, I know it all… (from The King For 1000 Years)

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Disc 1

The King For A 1000 Years
The Invisible Man
Born On Judgment Day
Pleasure Drone
Mrs. God
Silent Rain

Disc 2

Occasion Avenue
Light The Universe
Do You Know What You're Fighting 4?
Come Alive
Shade In The Shadow
Get It Up
My Life 4 1 More Day
Lineup:
Andi Deris - Vocals
Michael Weikath - Guitar
Sascha Gerstner - Guitar
Markus Großkopf - Bass
Dani Löble - Drums

Guest Musicians:
Candice Night - Vocals (Light The Universe)
Record Label: SPV
     


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