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Helloween’s history in heavy metal has been quite long and their past glorious. At the late 80’s and after the release of the Keeper Pt2, almost everyone thought of them as the successors of metal’s emperors Iron Maiden. Since then many things changed and Helloween not only did not become the new Maiden, but after the departing of their best member, guitarist Kai Hansen, they seemed to have lost their way. Poor albums, legal arguments with their record label and their chance to lead the world’s metal scene had gone once and for all.
However they still remain in the elite of heavy metal and their latest releases have been quite good. Better Than Raw is a good example. They seem more mature and developed while singer Andy Deris has adjusted himself in what Helloween need, leaving behind his past in Pink Cream 69. This can be considered as a plus for the band. The guitar parts are heavy enough to excite you and the rhythm section is steady and powerful.
Of course there are some songs that may not appeal to you so much or you may even dislike. Such are Hey Lord! and Don’t Spit on My Mind. Both of them are typical, mid-tempo Helloween songs familiar to the style they created in Master of the Rings and perfected in The Time of the Oath album. They are not bad but easily forgotten. The most out of place track is Time. It’s very slow with too little electric guitars. I suppose that Helloween did not expect this one to become a hit and it was written just for their pleasure. The big surprise comes from a song called Laudate Dominum. Nice melodies and Deris singing in Latin, make this one quite strange but rather humorous and pleasant.
At some parts the band even flirts with speed metal. In the eight-minute epic track, Revelation and the awesome Push, the guitars are played quite faster and the pounding drums, kind of, take us back to Walls of Jericho. Don’t mind the silly break in Revelation. The duo Weikath/Grapow handle their guitars with great care giving us fine melodies combined with power in I Can or the equally nice Handful of Pain. Helloween also make a good use of keyboards that color the scenery and add more feeling to the albums general atmosphere. Thumbs up!
Helloween exceed my expectations even more. I never thought that they would compose a song equal to their masterpiece, How Many Tears. They proved me wrong. A bit shorter in playing time, Midnight Sun is the top moment of the album. Continuous fast, heavy guitars and Deris at his best, make this one a jewel in their track list of heavy metal anthems. Along with Falling Higher which is truly a blaster. Metal all the way with lyrics like “we realized by the look in your eyes, metal will never die”, Helloween write a song for all of us who will never deny our music. Pay attention to it and you’ll certainly enjoy it.
With this album Helloween managed to gain back a great deal of the respect I felt for them. Either you are a new or an old fan of them, it matters not. You are bound to like Better Than Raw and it remind you of what this band used to be ten years ago.