on 16 February 2013
Back to form and a fantastic album. 7 Sinners was okay, but did not really sound like Helloween to me. This is Helloween back on their best form and an album that you will just want to play and play again.
A bit difficult to describe, but somewhere between the pop/metal of Master Of The Rings and the first two Keepers albums. Nice music that even non-metal fans may like, but still interesting with variety.
Here is a tip though a couple of the intros are a bit disappointing, but just give them 30 seconds until the songs kick in.
If you like Helloween, Gamma Ray or similar I suspect that you will love this.
Helloween’s fourteenth full-length studio album, Straight Out Of Hell, is a damn strong release that sees the legendary German Power Metal band at the top of their game, doing what they do best and doing it well. For me, this would definitely rate as being in the top half of their discography and something that all but the most casual Helloween fans should definitely pick up and give some serious attention to.
Maybe it was the line-up stability (fourth album in a row with the same line-up!), maybe it was the fact that the band were nearing their thirtieth anniversary or maybe it was simply serendipity, but this album really nails what this band are all about and what they should be doing at this stage in time. The 2013 album does a remarkable job of balancing “dishing out more of the core Helloween sound,” with playing in different moods and mixing things up just a little. You can hear brief touches of the sounds from every Helloween album since Deris joined the band. The fast, the slow, the conservative, the experimental, the happy, the serious, the heavy, the mellow… its all in here; in a tasteful and well-balanced, cohesive whole.
‘Straight Out Of Hell,’ ‘Far From The Stars,’ ‘Burning Sun,’ ‘Years,’ and ‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’ are all exactly what you would want or expect from Helloween. That sort of happy sounding, melodic Power Metal with catchy sing-along choruses, thundering double kicks, lots of gorgeous dual-guitar harmonies and virtuosic lead guitar playing. (‘World At War,’ is that sort of style as well, only with extra heavy verses reminiscent of Helloween’s earlier The Dark Ride album added in there too for good measure). So if you want traditional Helloween, you’ve got it, in spades.
There’s also a fair amount of variety on offer here too. Opener ‘Nabatea’ – a history lesson about an ancient race of people called the Nabateans; is a brilliant, energetic, slightly progressive tune that goes through a lot of different moods and flavours. It might take a few active-listens to get the full effect, but there are some seriously excellent parts on this track. The bit behind the lyric ‘though they had no slaves, believe it or not!’ is absolutely joyous. I remember hearing the chorus to this around the time of the record’s release and not liking it, and so delaying purchasing this album by a few months – big mistake! This is a very good song indeed and really impresses upon closer inspection.
Closer ‘Church Breaks Down’ is also a multi-faceted, semi-progressive number, which feels like it would fit well on their classic Time Of The Oath album. There are hints of piano, and slower parts layered in amongst the happy-sounding speed metal influenced sections.
Then bringing the speed down further, there’s the track ‘Live Now!’ which is very much the traditional Helloween single, (like previous singles ‘Mr. Torture,’ ‘Mrs. God,’ or ‘Perfect Gentleman’). You know the kind… It’s not very representative of the album’s direction overall, as it’s the only song that sounds this way.
‘Waiting For The Thunder’ is another mid-tempo, keyboard-tinged melodic number that initially seems like its going to be a soppy ballad, but is actually a pretty driving track once it gets going. Then of course comes the actual ballad ‘Hold Me In Your Arms;’ there’s always at least one per album, and here its quite a tasteful one – if you liked ‘If I Could Fly’ then you’ll probably get along with this just fine. Finally in the variety stakes, there’s the brief experimental track ‘Wanna Be God,’ which is a rhythmic, tribal call to arms that sounds like the score from the scene in a movie where the barbarian army are flexing and showing off before the actual fight.
The large mix of styles found on the record is offset well by the continuous reintroduction of up-tempo, gloriously happy sounding speed metal sections. This cements a feeling of consistency. When combined with the quality of the musicianship and the well-structured songs it all really adds up to something even better than the sum of its parts.
On top of that, the whole record is just an absolute guitarist’s dream. The leads and solos are absolutely wonderful; at times fun, at times impressive, at times evocative and interesting. Backed up by up by Löble’s weighty drumming and a clear production job, these songs really “pop.” There’ll always be that extra something in there that will allow a song to stand out, but everything will always feel like it belongs.
All in all, this is an excellent release. Lapsed fans should consider picking up a copy to see what the band are up to nowadays, casual fans should consider picking up a copy to find out why they should become more than casual fans, and active fans simply should not be without this strong and succinct distillation of everything that’s great about modern Helloween.
on 19 February 2013
Yep! They've done it again with their class. However, I'll try to not compare it to their previous material.
To my ears, this album is a perfect example of utilizing every instrument without sounding tiresome, complacent, or self-indulgent. Just exactly perfect.
Those riffs and powerful rhythms.....The drums - man, Dani Loeble is one hell of a machine! Andi Deris has the right combination of power, menace, and emotion that makes each track all the more convincing. The genius of Michael Weikath's song-structuring skills is outstanding. Sascha Gertsner & Marcus Grosskopf round out what is an awesome band.
Whoever was in charge of selecting the track order has got it right with the flow of the album. Starting the album with Nabataea is a stroke of genius as it contains Deris at his best delivering a very memorable chorus to set off an album you could say is a `chorus-fest' which never gets boring. I too have also taken advantage of downloading the Japanese-only bonus track `No Eternity' - a worthy addition that should have been on the album anyway.
I find it too hard to pick highlights from a consistently strong collection. It's one of those special albums that are excellent to sing along with whilst driving. My car audio system is going to take a pounding in the years to come.
I luv it! Give it an open-minded go and make up your own mind.
on 21 March 2013
I don't know where to begin, this is the Helloween album we have all been waiting for!!! Each track has it's own individual sound but makes up one great album. My highlights are Straight Out Of Hell itself is just excellent, fast, noisy and power metal through and through. Burning Sun is another great track and as we have heard it way back in 2012 it fits in this album brilliantly. Wanna Be God is just heavy percussion with some guitars near the end and wow what a track it makes. Waiting for the Thunder is in a similar vein as it is noisy and full of attitude. Then comes A**hole which was written by Gerstner and all I can say is someone made him very angry and I'm happy it wasn't me if this track is anything to go by. Another favourite of mine is Church Breaks Down, the vocals on this are amazing (just listen to the lines "Oh lord is there anyone who knows the truth" and you will see what I mean). Then comes the ballad Hold Me In Your Arms which is just heart-wrench-ing-ly great and gives me goose-bumps every listen! So don't take my word for it, go buy one of the best if not thee best metal release of the year!!!!
on 12 February 2013
it only takes 1 listen to hooked you up!
if you are excepting a non high pitching Deris, lack of incredible solos and lot of mid tempo songs with no catchy choruses at all... well ...this is definitely NOT your album to get!! PUMPKIN POWER at its best! got to check it out with detail, but my very 1st impression, is that these guys made an excellent worth the wait job! Never letting down band...Also would like to thank Amazon UK for spreading good music around every corner of the globe, with so acceptable fees! A-UK! you Rock!