WATCH NOW! Facebook Twitter Instagram LOGIN


By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Tuesday, July 20, 2021 @ 1:59 PM

- advertisement -

Nuclear Blast Records - 2021

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery."

That line from the new song "Best Time" is an apt way to begin delving into this review of the self-titled "reunion" album by HELLOWEEN. The band is coming off a highly succesful "Pumpkins United" world tour that brought back their "history" in the form of guitarist Kai Hansen and singer Michael Kiske to an eager and anticipatory audience. All that success kind of set the table for that mysterious tomorrow to become this brand new studio album that features that "Pumpkins United" lineup with a boatload of new songs.

You can count me in as one of those huge HELLOWEEN fans that had been eagerly awaiting the release of Helloween since the album was announced. I avoided hearing any of the music put out before the album was in my hands so that I had the chance to hear everything for the first time as I prepped to write this review.

But I have to say that it took some hard work to really get into the disc as a whole. In fact, the first couple of times I listened to the album, I found that I didn't like a good portion of the album. Sure, there were tracks that I instantly liked but I just struggled to appreciate the disc in total. Those first two spins of the disc left me feeling like the album jammed an overabundance of stuff into it and didn't quite develop everything as much as I thought it seemed to need.

As it turned out, it wasn't until the third time through the album that I really found a groove with the material and felt that I finally "understood" it. From there, it became much easier to develop a better appreciation of the Helloween album.

Unlike a lot of the HELLOWEEN albums, this disc doesn't open with a standalone overture instrumental. Instead, the musical intro for "Out For The Glory" serves as the song's own overture. Things start out just a bit slower in that intro but then the music gets a burst of kinetic energy and it is off to the races!

While the album is a full-on metal album, the band varies the material offered so things don't all sound the same. That relentlessly uptempo attack you get on "Out For The Glory" is demonstrated to great effect on the songs "Rise Without Chains" and "Robot King" as well. The all-out blitz of the music combined with a hard driving delivery of the vocals only barely let up to let your ears catch up.

The blending of vocalists Michael Kiske, Andi Deris and Kai Hansen works nicely overall. They each have their time in the spotlight on various songs but when two or more of them are blended into a song it deepens the power of the vocal performances. It was interesting to me though that only Kiske lacked any songwriting credits on the album. Every other member of the band had a hand in at least one song.

"Fear Of The Fallen" still had a frenzied delivery to it at times, but the song's pacing bounced back and forth between that and a more deliberate (and slower) pace as well. When I first listened to the aforementioned "Best Time", I thought the first part of the song sounded a bit muffled as if it had been deliberately hushed a bit in the album's mix. But as it happens, my ears seemed to have been playing tricks on me because the sound is actually solid throughout. The track moves lively and there's a definite aspirational bent to the song's lyrics. While that can sometimes come off a bit ham-fisted, it works well here.

When you listen to the song "Angels", it kind of starts off as if it might be the representative ballad number on the Helloween disc. But instead the line "I had a dream about forgiveness" bookends the track with a nearly a capella delivery. In between, the song steamrolls full speed ahead. It is a song that actually grows on you because I noticed that it seemed to be lacking something when I first heard the song and at first I just didn't think much of it.

When I first saw the song title for "Mass Pollution", I thought it might be a song that hit on some sort of environmental subject. Instead, you get a blood pumping fists raised to the sky ode to the live concert experience (or perhaps to the metal community as a whole). The song has that requisite chorus that becomes so instantly memorable that you find yourself singing along to it from the second time it appears in the song.

I was particularly intrigued by two of the songs that struck my fancy right from the first listen. While HELLOWEEN is an out and out power metal tour-de-force, the way they blended in a more hard rock style on top of that metallic delivery in "Cyanide" and "Indestructible" was a real ear grabber for me.

The latter of those two songs starts off with that hard rock sound before the metallic sound comes along to deepen the blend of the two styles into a fantastic whole. The lyrics are anthemic in nature and I'm sure that many a fist would be raised in support if and when the song got played live. As for "Cyanide", it is a monster track of the first order. It's one of my favorites overall on the Helloween disc and the two different musical approaches are woven together even more strongly than "Indestructible".

While it doesn't really factor into the music, I wanted to point out that the CD's booklet has some great artwork. But with the production design decision to set the cursive written lyrics against that art, it isn't all that easy to read said lyrics. Of the eleven songs featuring vocals on the disc, only two of them have lyrics in the booklet that are easy to read.

While I thought "Down In The Dumps" had a certain appeal musically, I was less than enamored of the song's vocal performance. Listen, I freely acknowledge that as someone who can't carry a tune in a bucket, I'm no singing expert. But I thought the vocals on this song were entirely too slap-dash and came off feeling rushed and out of sorts in the finished track.

The brief instrumental "Orbit" didn't really do much for me but it does serve as the lead-in to the album closing "Skyfall". As best as I can recall, "Skyfall" was the first song released ahead of the album and it is a twelve minute science fiction epic. The song was written by Kai Hansen (and features Jens Johansson formerly of Yngwie Malmsteen's band on keyboards) and it was surprisingly easy to pick up on the thematic elements of the song's story/lyrics (even if they are hard to read along with in the booklet). The song switches tempo throughout its run time but there's nary a misstep and you really get into "Skyfall" as a whole.

When I saw the "Pumpkins United" world tour, it was a nearly three hour extravaganza that left me in awe at just how amazing the lineup of Kiske, Deris, Hansen, guitarist (and bandleader) Michael Weikath, guitarist Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Dani Loble could bring their individual talents to the whole of HELLOWEEN and make it so that nothing felt out of place or forced. It was a show that was not to be missed.

The band may not have blended those talents quite so seamlessly for the Helloween album given that it did take me a distressingly long time to really get into the album but in the end, they did hit the mark far more than they missed. And so the mixing of the past and present of HELLOWEEN gives me great hope and expectations for the future to come!

4.3 Out Of 5.0

Please log in to view RANTS

If you don't have a username, click here to create an account!




 Recent Reviews
BRUCE DICKINSON Spoken Word Show In Tampa, FL With Photos!
ASHES OF ARES Emperors And Fools
HIGHWAYS Texas Is Coming For You
NIVIANE The Ruthless Divide
OVERKILL The Atlantic Years 1986-1994 Box Set
BRIAN TICHY Merry Tichmas
L.A. GUNS Checkered Past
DARKWOODS MY BETHROTHED Angel of Carnage Unleashed


©2022 KNAC.COM. All Rights Reserved.    Link to us    Advertise with us    Privacy policy
 Latest News