In 2017 Helloween announced a worldwide tour “Pumpkins United”, which was a real bombshell because two former vocalists, Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske joined the band. During 14 month Helloween played 69 shows in different countries and released a live DVD United Alive from their show in Madrid, Spain. However, it wasn’t a one-time thing: all members were pleased with the result and each other and decided to record a new album, named simply and concisely – Helloween.
This is already the second release with such name in the band’s discography – in far 1985 an EP named Helloween was already released, but that’s something you can take just as some useless fact. Anyway, to tell the truth, the news about release of this album with such line-up was pretty cautious for me. I can totally understand the purpose of such reunion tours – to give the fans what they were waiting for and make some money. I’m definitely ok with this and I would see this show with pleasure it Helloween were reached my country. But it is always more complicated with such reunion albums: the expectations of this kind of releases are overestimated and some pretty good album can be taken by fans with some hostility.
Nevertheless, Helloween are professionals and they understand what people expect to hear on a new album, especially with such line-up – “the same old Helloween but new” and they give it to their fans in abundance. 65 minutes of Helloween take us through various eras of the band, covering all rich history of the band. That is also emphasized with the art work, created by Eliran Kantor, where you can easily find references to a lot of previous band’s works.
The first released single, “Skyfall” is an epic 12-minutes canvas, written by Kai Hansen (there is a shortened 7-minutes version on youtube). It takes us back to the Keeper Of The Seven Keys era and here you can find everything you expect from Helloween: inherent melodism, epicness and atmosphere; fast Power Metal riffs and great bass and drums. Music changes a pace and a main theme a couple of times, acoustic passages changed by heavy riffs while synths add some atmosphere – all this components amazingly interweaved into one big sci-fi story about an alien that fell on Earth, imprisoned in “Hangar 18” and saved in the end. “Skyfall” also shows an interaction of all three vocalists – Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Andi Deris: they are not overshadowing each other but work as a team, taking place in the right moments. That’s also can be said about three guitarists; yes, Helloween has three guitars now and Michael Weikath, Sascha Gerstner with Kai Hansen deliver great, various solos without causing some dissonance.
The second single “Fear Of The Fallen” and the opener “Out For The Glory”, written by Michael Weikath are typical Helloween songs. They got fast Power Metal riffs and great rhythm-section as well, melodic catchy choruses and great solos. “Fear Of The Fallen” deceptively starts with clean guitars but after 30 seconds the pace becomes fast and music becomes heavy, while “Out Of The Glory” starts grimly, reminding “Season In The Abyss” a little bit but then it goes Power, of course. The same can be said about “Down In The Dumps” and “Robot King” – the last one is quite rigid song, especially if we’re talking about riffs, but it also has typical Helloween chorus and interesting, long solos.
“Best Time” isn’t like the previous songs, it’s quite radio friendly mid paced track and it’s catchy; this is the only song in the album written by Sascha Gerstner. Next one, “Mass Pollution” suddenly goes to a groovy and heavy Rock’n’roll. At the same time there are some elements, which are not used in Rock’n’roll usually, like double pedal, but altogether they work really well. The solos from all three guitarists starts also more or less in a Rock’n’roll way but later they go Power or wherever you want.
“Angels” sounds quite sublime and cinematic, despite its aggressive and heavy sound. There are plenty of various elements in this song too but I can’t say that all of them connected seamlessly, especially the change from verse to chorus is a bit of a stretch. “Rise Without Chains” is speed: fast riffs, fast solos and memorable chorus. In its turn, “Indestructible” was made for live shows: it’s not as fast-paced as “Rise Without Chains” but the chorus is simple and I’m sure that there will be loud sing alone of fans on future gigs. “We are indestructible ’cause we are one!”
Helloween‘s new album can’t be called masterpiece but this is a really good longplay. As I said earlier, it covers all eras of the band and gives the fans everything they wanted to hear from Helloween. Maybe it’s really beginning of something definitely new, according to musicians themselves, I don’t know and I want to believe them anyway. Nevertheless, today it looks like a great example of proverbial “back-to-the-roots”, which was mentioned by many but only few succeeded to make it right way. Helloween did it right; you can be hardly disappointed with this album.
Helloween will be released on June, 18th via Nuclear Blast.
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