Earlier this year we got the chance to have an early listen to this album and talk about it with four members of the band: bass player Markus Grosskopf, guitarists Sascha Gerstner, Michael Weikath and singer Andi Deris. We only were able to listen to this album once, unfortunately. So, the review was more about a first impression rather than an in depth review. Let’s take a deep dive now that it’s finally here and can be put on repeat.
‘Out For the Glory’ starts off very mysteriously. A low tone that gives you a bit of an eerie feeling. Then after half a minute, the guitars kick in and a bit later all the instruments join into classic Helloween : harmonious, fast yet melodic riffs and the awesome voice of one of the three singers will fill the room. In this case, it’s Andi Deris with Michael Kiske singing in the choruses and the harmonies.
‘’Out for the glory, fist held high. About to rule the eternal skies. A time has come for us to see’’
‘Fear of the Fallen’ starts with an acoustic guitar melody. After that, all the power of Helloween blasts out of your speakers. One word is definitely clear in this song: ‘Decide’. In my head, this song was even called ‘Decide’ on the previous listen. The song definitely makes you rethink what you are doing and how you are doing it. This all on top of killer fast distorted guitar riffs and harmonies.
One clear message: ‘’Listen to your heart’’.
On to my favorite song of this album: ‘Best Time’. This song is completely in line with how I view life and how I think life should be dealt with. To have a song that matches so closely to how you feel about something just feels amazing. Guitarist Sascha Gerstner wrote this song about living your life to the fullest, any day and everyday. You only get one shot, and yeah, you make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, but you have to get up and find the courage to take on the next day, the next challenge.
‘’Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Tomorrow is a perfect day, another chance more games to play’’
‘Mass Pollution’ starts off with the sound you get when you plug in an electric guitar and you accidentally hit a string. That high pitched noise that warns you something awesome is going to start soon. The bass and the drums bring the intro to this amazing riff that follows in the next few seconds. A very catchy chorus enters your head and won’t leave, even if you put it on repeat. Oh, and don’t forget the killer solo. A duel between guitars with the riff throughout the song in the background.
‘’Mass pollution, a contribution to start evolution’’.
‘We just love it loud, bang and shout it out. Raise your hands up now, till the final blow’.
An emotional moment comes when Andi Deris shouts ‘make some noise!’. In the background you hear fans screaming. Something that hasn’t been possible for a long time already because of COVID 19. Live music really has that extra touch to it, but Helloween gets close with delivering it to your headphones.
‘’I’ve had a dream about forgiveness’’. ’Angels’ starts with this powerful lyric brought by Michael Kiske. A song with a slower pace and an emotional feeling to it. In the chorus Michael Kiske shows off his skills to reach really high notes. It’s a good thing the singers work together now. There are a lot of long notes on this one, and like Andi Deris said in the interview, it would be impossible to sing this alone because of the lack of oxygen for one singer alone. This song shows the power of Helloween working together as one. Still the classic Helloween, but with much more power to deliver their songs. The song ends with the same lyric as it started with:
‘’I’ve had a dream about forgiveness’’. A lyric to think about.
‘Rise Without Chains’ lets the sound of the intro go from one ear to the other. This is clearly noticeable when wearing headphones. It just gives this extra dimension to the song. The rest of the song blasts out as one. The song warns you about not getting too high on yourself. Stay with both feet on the ground.
‘Indestructible’ blasts at you with this wall of a riff. It’s there, you can’t go around it. Over this lower sounding guitar riff, comes a very catchy chorus that is definitely just as powerful. Both in music as in meaning. After the second chorus, we get a fast guitar solo that fades into harmony with the other guitars on its way.
‘’We’re indestructible, because we are one. We are indestructible as we are fighting from dusk till dawn’’.
‘Robot King’, comes at you with multiple guitars and vocal screams. Michael Kiske is showing off his skills again when he reaches the highest notes that we heard on this album on the pre chorus. The chorus itself is a beautiful harmony between multiple singers. For me, it’s easy to define the voice of Michael Kiske, but it’s harder to define the voice of Andi Deris and Kai Hansen. Either way, this chorus sounds absolutely beautiful.
‘Cyanide’ gives you screaming guitars and the solid voice of Andi Deris. In the chorus we have these beautiful harmonies and classic Helloween riffing again. Cyanide is a deadly chemical. With this as the song title, the band wants to warn us for society where it’s more often about money than it is about the quality of a person’s life.
‘Down in the Dumps’ has all these mysterious sounds in the beginning. It sounds like you are in a forest. Then, all of a sudden, the guitar comes at you. This one has a special audio to it, like it has some sort of 3D, echo-like effect on it. Definitely one that I turned my volume up for, to hear the amazing quality of this recording. A six minute song that flies by, because it sucks you up and only spits you out at the end.
‘Orbit’ is the intro for ‘Skyfall’, the single of the album. It has this space feeling to it and really prepares you seamlessly for ‘Skyfall’ to come. During the first listen, I didn’t even notice that there were actually two tracks. Now that I have the ability to put this on repeat, you can hear that ‘Skyfall’ starts when you hear a long deep guitar strum. This is definitely the most complex song on the album. It’s a prime example of the band working together as one. Kai Hansen, Andi Deris and Michael Kiske all have their vocal parts in this, while also singing together. The instruments are amazing too. ‘Skyfall’ is 12 minutes long and it has literally anything you could ask for.
Helloween uses their classic formula for making songs: solid, usually fast riffs, harmonies in the choruses and killer guitar solos battling each other. This album is special because all the members of Helloween are now playing together for the first time, something that fans have long been waiting for and only could dream of. This makes that Helloween now exists of 7 members: Andi Deris, Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen, Sascha Gerstner, Michael Grosskopf, Michael Weikath and Daniel Löble.
The seven members are also noticeable on the album cover. We see seven keys floating away form the character. And no, this is not relatable to their song ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’. Or at least the band says so. It’s like they could see the future that they were going to end up with all seven members together when they wrote that song. The good news is that the band likes this line up too and Helloween is planning to release more music with it.
If you want to check out more details and background information about the album, check out the listening session / interview that I did with Andi Deris, Sascha Gerstner, Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf here.
What makes the difference for me on this album with all the members together in comparison to other past line ups is that this album is so full of sound. It’s there. You can’t go around it. Helloween has used the skills of each and every one in the band to its fullest This is mainly noticeable on the vocals. There are three very good singers, each and every one of them with a different vocal range. They all will sing the songs in the way that is best suited for them and when you combine their voices together, it’s simply amazing.
These vocals are on top of the purest form of heavy metal. This is created by the use of the classic Helloween formula that is described above. The lyrics are mainly positive. Helloween says that they don’t need a pandemic to write positive lyrics. They always have been writing positive lyrics, it’s a characteristic that belongs to Helloween. This self-titled album is no different.
The band is positive about a lot of things, also that COVID is going to go away eventually and that we will be able to enjoy live shows again. Their United & Alive Tour is postponed till spring 2022, but let us take note of Helloween‘s positivity. Let us stay patient and wait until we can go out and celebrate music together again. In the mean time, let’s enjoy this masterpiece that is named after the band itself: Helloween.
Release date: June 18, 2021
Label: Nuclear Blast
- Out For the Glory
- Fear of the Fallen
- Best Time
- Mass Pollution
- Rise Without Chains
- Robot King
- Down in the Dumps