Helloween – Helloween

Helloween - HelloweenPower metal pioneers Helloween are back with their sixteenth album, their first with the Pumpins United line-up featuring Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske back in the band. Was it worth the wait?

When German metal legends Helloween announced a few years back that they would be reuniting with former members Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske for a reunion tour, expectations were immediately sky high. This was the ultimate fan service, finally bringing back the two guys who had helped shape the band into what it is now and essentially reuniting the line-up responsible for the legendary Keeper of the Seven Keys albums (sans Ingo Schwichtenberg who died in 1995). We even got a new song with all three vocalists in the form of Pumpkins United. Reunion tour was a huge success, with the band heavily banking on nostalgia but also playing more than a few songs from the albums they did with Andi Deris on vocals during a massive three hour set.

If that would have been the end of things, I can guarantee you everyone would have been more than happy. Maybe do a few additional shows and Hansen could get back to Gamma Ray, Kiske to doing Avantasia guest spots and Helloween to being fronted by just Deris. Deciding that this wasn’t the end of things, however, the newly invigorated seven-piece headed to the studio and has just released their self-titled album. Months ago we were already teased with the massive twelve minute, Hansen penned epic Skyfall and the speedy Fear of the Fallen and if anything, those two songs only helped in enhancing the already huge hype there was for this album. And I have good news: that hype was wholly justified. Helloween is a fantastic return to form for the band.

If there was any doubt left, Out for the Glory will undoubtedly wash it away. This is as vintage Helloween as you can get, with multiple guitar solos by all three players and a lead role for Kiske. It’s like the song is saying, “hey guys, we’re back and don’t worry, we got this.” It’s a confident opener leading into the aforementioned Fear of the Fallen, resulting in a one-two opening punch that really does wipe away all remaining doubt. At 65 minutes it’s long, but time absolutely flies by, even if you have the version with two bonus tracks. It’s also easily the most consistent album the band has put out in years. The quality is very high overall with no really weak songs on the album. That being said, I personally could have done without Angels or Down in the Dumps, but that does not mean they’re weak songs per se.

At the end of the line, you’ll find over an hour of premium power metal on Helloween, and I can’t imagine any fan of the band being disappointed by what’s on offer. The material ranges from speedy double bass blasters (Out for the Glory, Robot King, Rise Without Chains, Cyanide amongst others) to more hard rocking fare (Best Time, Angels, Indestructible) and the album’s flow is quite good, mixing things up enough to keep you interested throughout. Songwriting duties are shared fairly equally, although I would have loved to see one or two more old-school songs by Hansen. Then again, he already gets the big spotlight with the epic, twelve minute Skyfall, so perhaps there’s no reason to complain after all. 

Helloween 2021

Helloween is a triumph and well worth the long wait. Kiske sounds as good as ever, hitting the high notes in all the right places, and his voice works wonderfully together with Deris’ gruffier sounding vocals. The choruses are joyous and most of them are instant earworms you’ll find yourself humming or singing along to by the end of the first listen. Musically, it’s tight and full of fun guitar solos, which one would expect from a band sporting three guitar players, and especially a band like this. It’s vintage Helloween the way we like it, and the way it should be, and we can only hope that this is not the last we’ve seen and heard from this particular line-up.

Buy it here: https://pumpkins-store.com

Track listing:

  1. Out for the Glory (07:18)
  2. Fear of the Fallen (05:38)
  3. Best Time (03:35)
  4. Mass Pollution (04:14)
  5. Angels (04:42)
  6. Rise Without Chains (04:56)
  7. Indestructible (04:42)
  8. Robot King (07:07)
  9. Cyanide (03:29)
  10. Down in the Dumps (06:01)
  11. Orbit (01:04)
  12. Skyfall (12:11) 

Line-up:

  • Michael Kiske – vocals
  • Andi Deris – vocals
  • Kai Hansen – guitars, vocals
  • Michael Weikath – guitars
  • Sascha Gerstner – guitars
  • Markus Grosskopf – bass
  • Dani Löble – drums

Review by Ralph Plug

One thought on “Helloween – Helloween

  1. Pingback: Sounds from the Dark Side top albums of 2021 (until now) | soundsfromthedarkside

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s