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on 18 May 2009
A pretty poor spell at the beginning of the 90's for Helloween, for what ever reason had meant a large number of disillusioned fans, after the previous outstanding "Time of the oath" Helloween follow-up with this suitably excellent offering "Better than raw"

This Re-release expanded edition whilst not as generous as the Time of the oath with a second CD of bonus, b-sides and unreleased, here there are four extra tracks 12-15 here which add on very nicely at the end, a fitting end to the album and don't seem out of place, similarly with the other 90's albums extensive interviews with the band are in it plus with the lyrics still included.

"Better than Raw" for me was and still is a hugely rewarding and mature metal album, that remains a lost and overlooked gem over the years, the quality of the songs on 'raw is by and largely of an excellent standard, paricularly the outstanding musicianship (as always) lyrics, diversity and production.

My favourite songs would have to be the amazing "Falling higher, Handful of pain and Midnight sun" all of the songs by my reckoning have at least something going for them, only perhaps shades of weakness here and there in 2 or 3 of the 15 but nothing too serious.

However the only contraversial issue with 'raw could possibly be the vocals, on occasions (E.g Push) the high shrill he is so capable of getting does go that one step to far and does get a little tedious but thankfully it's very rare, and another note for me is maybe too many choruses in some songs (E.g Hay lord!) hinting at abit of commercialism sneaking in but that is a "hint" only.

Anyhow very little to fault with this, whilst not a classic it's very solid across the board and stands up well to the rest of helloween's catalogue and the power metal scene in general.

I recommend to Helloween fans who may not already have it, or new fans interested in new power metal guns such as "Dragonforce", this would be an ideal starting place for you as 'raw contains a good cross section of their catalogue.

Good album.
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on 10 December 2009
Most of this album is outstanding - 9/10 to be more accurate. I don't understand why some people overlook this album - maybe the title puts them off (??).
As far as the original release is concerned, I would've given the album 10/10 if the 2 studio `bonus tracks' had replaced the 2 weakest tracks on the original release. That wasn't the case, so I would've given the original release 8/10.
This expanded edition has definitely improved on the original release of this album.
These guys certainly know how to make the best melodic metal music without sounding too cheesy (most of the time). It's easy to tell that a lot of intelligence and craft go into their creative output. They miss the mark at times but not on this album.
Andi Deris has a lot to do with why the songs sound so good to the ear. Lots of fans often mention that Kiske was a better vocalist. Technically - maybe so. I do love his work and every era of Helloween unlike some fans which are divided. However, Deris has something extra in his vocal delivery that consists of a raw, emotion-driven energy that makes him sound so convincing - kind of like he's singing with the same balls that Robert Plant sang with on the Zeppelin albums.

Here's a quick breakdown of the songs:

1. Deliberately Limited Prelude Period In Z: best intro to any Helloween album ever - dramatic orchestration that next leads into a monster song - 5/5
2. Push: explosive - the frantic vocals and ferocious pace gets the heart pumping - brilliant!! - 5/5
3. Falling Higher: the high standard continues with another excellent track - 4.5/5
4. Hey Lord: has an irresistible hook with the questioning `Hey Lord' chorus asking `what is it all about?'. Helloween have the brilliance to get away with commercial rock tracks without sounding corny - very few bands have that talent - 5/5
5. Don't Spit On My Mind: powerful track with awesome riffs & another strong chorus - equal favorite track on the album - 5/5
6. Revelation: about three quarters of the way to being real good....2 minutes shorter would've helped. I still dig it but would have preferred Game We Shouldn't Play for a place on the original - 3.5/5
7. Time: a slow, chiming, haunting track with excellent chorus & backing vocals - 5/5
8. I Can: this one rocks. Great tune. Another user-friendly song with a positive attitude that yet again refrains from being corny (just) - 4/5
9. A Handful Of Pain: I can hear Bowie in the vocals here. Another great chorus with attractive backing vocals - 5/5
10. Lavdate Dominum: excellent verses with the right build up that unfortunately leads to a lame chorus. Could have been much better - the weakest track on the `original' album only surpassed on the downside by the last `bonus' track on this expanded edition - 2.5/5
11. Midnight Sun: energetic work-out and a worthy ending to the original release - 4/5

Bonus Tracks

12. Back On The Ground: this one gets the heart pumping as well. Excellent track that leaves me asking why it wasn't included ahead of Lavdate Dominum on the original release 5/5
13. Game We Shouldn't Play: this bonus track is an absolute bonus indeed! - too good for a bonus track. 4/5
14. Perfect Gentleman: rockin' live version of one the most `loaded' and fun songs ever - a Helloween classic - 5/5
15. Moshi Moshi Shiki No Uta: drum solo with some nice guitar at the end...unnecessary! - 1/5

I don't know how many times I've been disappointed by the bonus tracks on albums over the last few years by different artists however, this is one that works the way you would hope. If you've already got the original release, like it, but aren't sure whether this is worth it for the extras, don't think about it - get it! If you haven't heard this album before, check it out and see what you think.
Anyway, I'm tired and going to bed.

Rock on!
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on 15 December 2012
I really like this album, It more hard and close to next album "The Dark Ride". Unfortunately I have disk without cover. I know my post is guilty. And big thanks Amazon for repeated order, because the first was stolen. =\
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