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It hasn’t been the best year for metal. Sabaton came back more ambitious than ever, but still sound like a Sabaton tribute band. Elvenking fared a little better, but their identity crisis is going to get them in the end. And Wintersun saw Jari finally almost deliver, but the best is surely yet to come. Only Skylark took on all comers and walked away standing tall.
Helloween was obviously watching all this from a distance. And even though they’d penciled in 2013 as the release date for their new album, the times called for a hero. Enter this single made up of three new tracks and one live version of a modern classic. And just like that the greatest heavy metal band on the planet manage to take the prize. Here’s proof.
“Burning Sun” is the name of the single. You’re going to like it right away. That’s never good, because it probably means it’s been done before. And it also means you’ll be bored with it five listens in. But not this time around. Try fifty listens in and you’ll still want more. The reason is Michael Weikath. No one writes them better, and say hello to his new instant classic.
Helloween have probably never sounded heavier. And this one opens as a dense shredfest laced with trademark Helloween harmony underscore that’s grab at the throat stuff. As almost always with Weikath, the lyrics face off against anyone who says metal is only about tits, beer and um…metal. Instead you get a snappy little parable about a dude who’s sick of planet earth and humans messing up everything – and so does the solo thing into space. It’s an epic and intense journey mirrored in an epic and intense arrangement.
The verses are an angry runaway moment – and the double bridge has to be heard to be believed. You get Deris delivering a never-before-done roar crossed with a yell crossed with a shout from something like deep space. And even that is just scene setting for a roller coaster that leaves the tracks and crash lands into a chorus that’s as catchy as “Eagles Fly Free” and as brutal as “Midnight Sun”. If all of that wasn’t enough, the twin guitar solo is easily in the top five of their very best in the two decades or so of their existence.
“Wanna Be God” is Deris telling it like it is when it comes to dictators and the evil that men do. But the really interesting part is yet again the arrangement thing happening on this track. Basically it’s a two minute tantrum of drums and voice with everyone else laying low enough to make the whole thing sound like it could explode at any moment. But it never does. The hook is one almighty tease - so don’t be surprised if you find yourself wishing it did explode after all. Two minutes just won’t do for a song this good.
Things then come to a close with “Another Shot Of Life” by Markus Grosskopf. One spin of this little baby and you’ll do exactly what I did and curse all those wasted years with Grosskopf making up the numbers (with a smile on his face!) in the background, while Grapow and Kusch delivered fillers like they invented them. This one’s about the hell life throws at you, and the hell you give right back. Think anthem smashed up against a tirade and framed in something you won’t get out of your head in a while.
The last track is a great live run through of “Where The Sinners Go” – and then it’s all over. Except that it isn’t. The full album is just around the corner and I’m already sleeping out for mine. Because there is, after all, a very good reason why Helloween sound like they invented power metal. They did.