Top critical review
End of an era
on 3 February 2014
“The Dark Ride” was the first (and so far, the last) Helloween album that was produced by Roy Z, whose other production credits include Bruce Dickinson and Halford. Perhaps as a result of this rather unexpected choice for a producer, the album was quite a departure from the power metal veterans’ trademark style, with a noticeably “modern” feel. In many of the songs, the guitars are heavily down-tuned, and vocalist Andi Deris sings in a rather rough, raspy voice. With song titles such as “Mr. Torture”, “Escalation 666” and even “I Live For Your Pain”, you aren’t too off the mark in saying that this isn’t a very happy album. There are a couple of tunes with a more traditional Helloween sound, but the overall feeling is very dark and sinister.
Not everyone was happy with the direction the band was heading for, with guitarist and founding member Michael Weikath voicing his dissatisfaction afterwards. As a consequence, “The Dark Ride” marked the end of Helloween’s longest-serving line-up until then, with guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch exiting the band the following year. However, this wasn’t the last time the pumpkin metallers would use such sounds and themes, as they were heavily present on “7 Sinners” and, to a lesser extent, on “Gambling With The Devil”.