Newest Review: ... Schwichtenberg - Drums Before I begin with each song, I will just mention their music. Like I have said, they play metal fast, but that is... more
Keys to the Kingdom
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I - Helloween
Member Name: xBorgx
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I - Helloween
Advantages: If you like your metal mellow, but still fast, this is for you
Disadvantages: If you don't like metal, pass
Do you remember the eighties? Remember those eighties bands... sure you do: bands like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Human League and... Helloween. 'Helloween?' you shriek. What in blue blazes is that all about? Well, they were not an eighties band in the way 'eighties bands' are depicted, but they certainly were around at the time. Whereas the aforementioned bands played soft synth pop, Helloween played Metal...
Heirs to The Scorpions, Helloween hail from Germany, but whereas The Scorpions play a lighter shade of Metal, Helloween play it fast, they were and are a Thrash Metal Act. Still at it now in 2009, I am reviewing their third album which was originally produced in February 1987 and then repackaged along with bonus tracks in 2006. They have been through a few band member changes since, but the line-up at the time of 'Keeper of the 7 Keys Part 1' was as follows:
Michael Kiske - Lead Vocals
Kai Hansen - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Marcus Grobkopt - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Weikath - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ingo Schwichtenberg - Drums
Before I begin with each song, I will just mention their music. Like I have said, they play metal fast, but that is not to say it is all just noise. Helloween have a distinct style and a melody to them. Think of Metallica, but with a clearer sound and more jovial. They are similar to Iron Maiden, too, but probably heavier. This album featured new vocal talent (at the time) taking over from Kai Hansen (the chief songwriter) - who sang as well as played guitar on the first two albums. He has a distinct harmonic tone, and quite operatic as well. Kia's vocals were a bit rough and whinging.
There is a certain element of humour to many of Helloween songs. They would later release a song called 'Heavy Metal Hamsters,' so we shall say no more.... Anyway, let's begin with the songs on Keys 1:
The album's intro is the grandiose 'Initiation' (Hansen). Just a few minutes long, this instrumental puts you in the right frame of mind as it pulls you along in its uplifting way. 'I'm Alive' (Hansen) is next, an almost hectic song with a great melody and out-of-this-world solos from Hansen and Weikath.
The third song is toe-tapping 'A Little Time' (Kiske). It begins with a meaty guitar riff and swells into an almost operatic chorus. This song shows off Kiske's great vocal talents to the full. Then we have the rocking 'Twilight of the Gods' (Hansen). Passionate, emotional... rocking.
'A Tale that wasn't Right' (Weikath) is about love lost. It is slow, it is melancholy with a fantastic solo guitar intro. "Here I stand all alone, Have my mind turned to stone, Have my heart filled up with ice, To avoid it's breaking twice."
'Future World' (Hansen) is one of my all time favourites. It has a battering guitar intro (a machine gun with a tune) with a slide guitar overlay. Next we have the epic Halloween (where the band find out how to actually spell it, maybe?). This is almost a rock opera, it twists and turns from one riff to another. It is the story of good versus evil. A very dark tune.
"Darkness... Where am I now?
Is there anybody out there, what has happened?
Am I in Heaven, or is this Hell?
I can see a light coming, it is shining... so bright. It's shining on me."
'Follow the Sign' (Hansen/Weikath) ends the original 1987 album, a slow number which is just an extension of Halloween in my opinion.
The bonuses for the 2006 version are remixes of the original Hansen sung songs 'Victim of Fate' and 'Starlight' - here sung by Kiske. An alternative version of 'A little time,' and a shortened (butchered) version of 'Halloween' that serves very little purpose at all.
The album was produced by Tommy Hansen and recorded in Hannover in 86/87.
The new packaging is great and features reviews from the likes of Kerrang, plus photos and small biops of what was happening with the band at the time.
So... to sum up: I don't feel that this album is dated in any way. It still rocks. It has stood the test of time better than - say - Tears for Fears? It is a great metal album and was the footing for the ones that followed. As I said at the beginning, the members changed (Hansen and Kiske would leave during the next few albums), but even now with new faces - they still rock...
Also published on Ciao by Me - as Borg...
Summary: Mellow metal, fast metal... Metal!!