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Helloween Treasure Chest

By Vinnie Apicella, Contributor
Monday, September 2, 2002 @ 1:48 PM


(Sanctuary)

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Nearly hard to imagine, this band's seen fifteen plus years already, and yet here they still are, celebrating their boundless career with a mighty pumpkin-smashing two-disc, two-hour set spanning the many highlights and few lows of their impressive existence. They roared on the scene in the middle '80s and put the "flash" in a burgeoning thrash scene that was devoid of any real fluidity or melodic consciousness, brandishing a fresh, new European style that countless successors continue to emulate. Much like Iron Maiden before them, they broke new ground and similarly spotlighted a musical grandeur based upon power and speed, took it a step further and never looked back. Yet they got knocked off course for a stretch, and like Maiden, found the ability to move forward and thrive, even more so after several key line up changes.

Personally I thought they were dead in the water when their first revival took place in the early nineties, having lost their frontman and drummer after nearly succumbing to label disputes and various legalities. So to call them survivors underscores the achievements of one of metal's most influential and best talents who've continued to this day to strive, explore, and move forward where even now they must regroup and overcome the departure of two more key members.

So Treasure Chest then, in one way or another, serves to close a chapter for the band as they ready themselves for a new journey. It features 29 tracks going way back to their earliest Helloween EP days on up to their latest The Dark Ride 2000 release, which is still an inexplicable mystery on this side of the Atlantic. While most of their back catalog is available again, for a time they were difficult to come by and though most of these selections are old hat to the long time fans, they've underscored the "Treasure" in the title by remixing five of their all-time classics including "Murderer," "Ride The Sky," and their monstrous "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" epic from '88s second installment. The riffs came fast and loud and while it's rare, if not downright foolish, to raise praise on remixed versions of early version recorded deficiencies, to hear a song like "Starlight" beam through the speakers with the clarity it does is worth the money they spent on the sticker. Of course we're jam packed with plenty of era photos including cool live footage, band member memos, liner notes, hype, horseshit, and extensive family tree foldout if you're so inclined after a few nips o' the jug.

Helloween's pioneering status, particularly in the ranks of so-called "Euro-metal" is unchallenged. They've upped their ante, they've known failure, and they've arisen to fight again… they've included "Power," "How Many Tears," "Windmill," "In The Middle Of A Heartbeat," and "Mr. Ego," and for those they'll draw wrath from studs and leather witch hunters, and inarguably a few selections are questionable -- how does anyone who'll admit to bearing the abomination that was Chameleon stand for anything other than maybe "First Time" or their "Music" epic? "Kids Of The Century" is an obvious choice, along with "The Chance" from Pink Bubbles Go Ape… -- so we're grasping a bit here but when the best they can muster off the Better Than Raw album is "I Can," and they CAN'T make room for their Keeper I breakthrough "I'm Alive," call for the dogs! But such is the great thing about having so many to choose from, there'll always be those few included that no one expects, and a few to bitch over… what else is their to talk about? So in the rare event Helloween were to fold up their tent and call it a season, Treasure Chest more than sufficiently jewels the crown of Germany's reigning Metal kings.

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