This is a script for the video essay coming soon
Helloween The Band
Helloween is one of my favorite bands of all time. With the release of their new album, I wanted to talk a little bit about the band’s history, and how the band eventually reunited with two key members. After their founding in Hamburg, Germany, they set the bar for melodic, powerful heavy metal in the 80’s and in my opinion, it still hasn’t been beat. Unfortunately both Helloween and their genre of power metal aren’t as popular in my native country of the United States as I think they should be, but nonetheless, they have still maintained their success for a long time, especially in Europe and Brazil where they really were able to catch on. In 2017, however, the band went in a new and interesting direction, bringing back founding member, guitarist and vocalist, Kai Hansen, a pioneer in power metal, as well as Michael Kiske, Helloween’s classic era singer who sang the smashing Keeper of the Seven keys albums. Play sample. In 1988, this type of operatic and melodic voice was pretty uncommon in Metal, but Michael Kiske was one of the earliest to popularize it, clearing the way for singers like him in the future. When genre outsiders make the claim that the genre is just screaming and growling, I might point them to Kiske in Helloween or his work in Avantasia, or singers that followed in his operatic footsteps like Fabio Lione in Rhapsody.
Helloween hadn’t had either of these members in the band for almost 25 years, but they still found success with the versatile vocalist Andi Deris formerly from Pink Cream 69. At first, Deris may seem too raspy for a power metal band, but in my view, he quickly proved himself and never looked back. He had the ability to sing a thrashy rocking song, but was always able to top it off with a catchy chorus, sung in his unique yet still melodic style. Helloween took in Deris after parting ways with Kiske, after their albums Pink Bubbles go Ape and Chameleon were, lets just say not up to par with the awesome Keeper albums. They went on with Deris and never looked back, delivering some great albums like Better Than Raw, Gambling with the Devil, and Straight out of Hell. I’m sure many fans can find issues with the 10 Deris Era albums, but I believe they were a success overall, bringing great music and interesting lyrics to compliment Deris’s Dexterity.
Helloween The Reunion
But when 2017 rolled around, news of the reunion, bringing 3 singers together in a septet band, fans like myself were excited. There was some cause for concern though. Did a reunion mean the band was out of ideas? Did it signal a coming decline like it had for other musical reunions? Fortunately for Pumpkin heads such as myself, this wasn’t the case. The Pumpkins United World Tour in 2017-2018 was a grand success, selling out arenas and beating their previous attendance records. So when the newly formed septet announced a new album, fans like myself were giddy with excitement. But there was always that suspicion of what if the album fails? After all, writing and recording music with 7 musicians, 3 of them singers, seemed like a challenge. Could Helloween rise to meet it?
Well, I believe the first good sign came when Helloween revealed their cover art back in March. A hand-painted, beautifully crafted visual by Berlin Artist Eliran Kantor. While I know there’s wisdom in the old phrase ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover,’ I also hypothesize that there is a slight correlation between the album’s cover and the music. Look at lists of the greatest albums of all time, and the covers are often well-received. If the musicians are putting a lot of care into the artwork, it’s likely they are putting a lot of care into the music as well. Then there was the title reveal: HELLOWEEN. After 15 albums, the 16th would be self-titled. I thought it was a perfect time for this, as the band was bringing back old members, reaffirming who they were, and trying to make music that both compliments and expands upon they’re legacy. But with all that being said, the music itself had to deliver to this build-up.
Helloween The Album
So how is HELLOWEEN: The 16th album, the self-titled one. Well, at the writing of this script, it’s been out for 3 weeks. And it fucking rules. I’ve had it on repeat for a while now, and I love it. I’m gonna make a Helloween album ranking soon but you will see that this album is going to be pretty high on the list. That says a lot because the albums have been good to excellent ever since the 90’s in my opinion. And I’m not the only one who found HELLOWEEN to be amazing. Music critics, fan reviews, comments online all seem to agree that the boys really nailed this one. After all, you know the Germans make good stuff. Then there’s the charts. The album has been number one in Germany, Spain, and the UK’s rock and metal charts, and with a new tour for the album next year, I think Helloween might just be at their strongest point in their 37 year history.
So how does this album stand out as some of their best work. First off, I think Helloween was aware of the strengths of their three singers, Andi Deris is a very powerful and energetic rock voice with the ability to rasp and yell, Michael Kiske is the cinematic and choral singer, and Kai Hansen who has that deeper, sometimes more thrashy voice. They took these three and had them sing the songs best suited to their talents. The songs are well-balanced in this regard, the Kiske’s melodic parts don’t seem over the top and Deris is the same versatile singer I’ve loved over the years. Kai Hansen accents the two throughout the album adding some layers and diversity to the lyrical delivery. And then there’s the lyrics themselves. Most of these songs are individually written with thought provoking and smart wordsmithing.
- Andi Deris writes of the mythical guardian angels of mankind in FEAR OF THE FALLEN,
- In SKYFALL, Kai Hansen tells the story of an alien crash landing on earth from the perspective of the alien, a story about drastic change similar to our big changes in 2020.
- and in my favorite song on the record, OUT FOR THE GLORY, Guitarist Michael weikath writes a powerful uplifting song where he writes about in the second person about how great YOU the listener can be if you live up to your potential.
Those are some examples, and then there’s the instrumentation. What can I say? It’s excellent. Michael Wiekath, Sacsha Gertsner and Kai Hansen deliver catchy and inspiring riffs. Markus Groskopff bass is perfectly integrated to boost the tracks, and Dani Loble’s drums are fast, exciting and keep a rhythm you can bang your head to the entire time.
So all things considered, HELLOWEEN made their 16th album a self titled triumph. The circumstances leading up to this album make for the most interesting chapter on the band’s history if you ask me. I’m still waiting for my special edition Vinyl set to come in the mail, and I know it’s gonna be a great piece to have in my collection forever. Helloween’s story is one of pioneering and progress, and with the album Helloween, they defied the past failures of band reunions and gave us what I believe is a masterpiece. Go check out the album if you haven’t already. I really recommend it to metal fans and non-fans alike, and of course it’s also a love letter to the fans of Helloween. It’s a remarkable achievement considering the 7 man lineup, and it stands among some of the best of their discography.
POSTSCRIPT: Thanks for watching, this is a little different than the videos you might have seen on here, but I’m mainly just gonna be discussing things that are interesting to me at the moment and I might get more focused over time. I may do a detailed album review soon along with a ranking video so subscribe for those. Lot more is in the pipeline so like and subscribe. Thanks again, signing off.