Thirty five years. That’s how long Helloween have been going. One of the progenitors of power metal, and creators of one of the classic albums (OK, pair of albums) in Keeper of the Seven Keys, they’ve never stopped going. Going through a few lineup changes with only Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf along for the ride from the very beginning, Pumpkins United saw another founder member, Kai Hansen, rejoin the lineup along with the vocalist from the Keys days, Michael Kiske.
Only it was too good to keep on stage. The creative magic was still there, so the large lineup decided to write some new material and it’s here in this self-titled behemoth. Surprise!
There aren’t too many bands with three vocalists (the one that springs to mind is Amaranthe), especially when those vocalists are from different eras in the band’s history and therefore have vaguely similar vocal ranges. However, when you plop them all one one record together you really can tell Kiske from Deris from Hansen. This isn’t a singing free-for-all, though. In most songs there’s a notable lead or duet with the other(s) doing backing duties, and this teamwork pays off. There’s no “lead” as such within the band, certainly on this album, with songs playing to the strengths of the vocalist taking point for that track’s duration. Egos have definitely been shown the door.
What really sells this album to me, and I’m not a huge Helloween fan, is that it’s obviously a collaborative effort. As such, there’s so much variety. Some harks back to past eras, some do a great job of merging them, a couple sound pretty bloody fresh. It’s a superb mix and it’s great fun to listen to. I can only imagine what they’re going to be like live!
“Best Time” just rocks, “Mass Pollution” is one of the more metal numbers, “Robot King”‘s epic 7-minute tale seems like something half that length, but that pales compared to “Skyfall”. Oh, you watched the video? That 7:22 feature is edited from the full 12 minute plus track that rounds off the album.
Given the large band involved, the production is absolutely superb. Every instrument, every singer is right where they should be and Helloween a joy to listen to. I pity the poor soul who had to mix this, but I also give them massive credit. They certainly know their craft.
For those who saw the “special” tour, this is what they were baying for after the curtain fell and they went home. A continuation of that 90-minute live extravaganza, the whole of Helloween getting together and having a blast. Then releasing it for us all to listen to.
Helloween is out on June 18th