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Personally I like the title. But I like the album cover even more. I’ve always had the hots for weird thingies. A woman kissing a fish. Simple idea but since it is a good looking fish (the woman is okay as well) we’re talking about a great cover here. Of course we have a new guitarist here, Grapow, and obviously it’s not easy to make the fans forget Kai Hansen. He never achieved that i.m.o by the way. But apart from having one new member it is also notable that mr Grapow already wrote or co-wrote a large part of this album. Also Kiske wrote more than usual this time. No wonder the album sounds quite different since on earlier records it was mostly Weikath and Hansen.
The intro is short and a bit silly but over before you really notice it. What one does notice when “Kids Of The Century” kicks in, is in the bad cymbal production and the use of too much reverb on the guitars. The cymbals are simply too loud and pretty annoying. However the song itself is great. It’s still speed metal yet it has that Keeperish happy touch it.
Weikath is compositionally keeping a low profile here and one wonders why. Maybe writer’s block? Maybe Kiske was indeed dominating the band too much? Who knows what the reason was. But if there would have been more fast and heavy Weikath tunes here the album would probably have become more popular. No Eagle Fly Free or How Many Tears here unfortunately. His song “Number One” however is a slow but very good song and easily one of the best ones on the album. This doesn’t go for “Heavy Metal Hamsters” which Weikath co-wrote with Kiske. I can live with the title but the song is a rather generic second rate song which sounds more like a band immitating Helloween than Helloween themselves.
As said Roland Grapow has never been a favorite of mine (I also think Masterplan was/is extremly pretentious and dull) and most of his Helloween songs have never come close to what his predecessor could write. Funny thing however is that on Pink Bubbles Go Ape he managed to write my favorite song on the album, “Someone's Crying”. This song is so god damn beautiful and heavy at the same time. This is a song worthy of the Keeper legacy. Every single member performs at his best here. Kiske excels, the guitars are flashy and the drums are fast as well as dynamic. A perfect song. 10 out 10 points really.
Another gem here is “The Chance”. Once agaion written by Grapow. It is a mixture between ‘speed-metal-light’ and radio friendly melodies, but the vocal performance by Kiske is one of his best ones on this album together with the earlier mentioned “Someone's Crying” and the song I will name next, “Mankind”. A very simple song with an epic touch written around an almost perfect vocal performance. Such beauty and grandeur!
“Back On The Streets” is a decent song. Nothing more. All in all the chorus could and should have been a lot better. Then it would have a highlight on the album.
“Goin’Home” isn’t that weird. It’s got a nice fast pace and great catchy chorus. If the song would’ve had a heavier production (especially guitarwise) most people would have called it a typical happy speed metal Helloween tune. Nothing wrong with it. The laid back way to up tempo drums are played have more in common with Iron Maiden than Jericho-era Helloween though. Maybe it’s the short funky bassline in the middle that pisses fundamentalists off?
Some people say that losing Kai Hansen also resulted in losing the speed. Weikath however also used to write some uptempo material but on this album he writes one of the slowest songs. The fastest and most heavy songs are written by Kiske and Grapow. Grapow later said in an interview that the songs he wrote for this album were not his own typical style of writing but he was attempting to write Helloween songs. Well, he really managed to pul it off. And I wished he would have written more song like Someone’s Crying on next albums as well…
Reading back my review sofar I must conclude that most of the album is pretty good. It is however cheesier and more polished than the earleir Keeper albums and of course this did make a lot of fans frown. The guitars at certain points simply aren’t heavy enough and the use of keyboards on a song like “Number One” is quite obsolete and an extra guitar playing those parts would have made these songs heavier. But hey, some songs are just too damn good or beautiful to ignore here people!
The main two reason to give this album ‘just’ 88 points are the earlier mentioned light weight production and the cheesy Heavy Metal Hamsters and finally the two really bad songs on the album, “I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man” and “Your Turn”. “I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man” without the double bass could have done well on an Aerosmith album but is just too much seventies rock-orientated for Helloween. “Your Turn” is a ballad but not a good one. It has a certain bluesy touch in the verses to it that doesn’t do well with Kiske’s clear vocals and the chorus is just too cheesy.
Skip those three songs and imagine the rest with a heavier production and you actually have a pretty excellent Helloween album.
First place songs: Someone’s Crying and Kids Of The Century
Second place: The Chance, Going Home, Mankind
Third place: Number One, Back On The Streets
Obsolete cuts: Heavy Metal Hamsters, Your Turn, I'm Doin' Fine Crazy Man
In 1989, after Kai Hansen left the band and formed Gamma Ray, Helloween was thrown into the abyss and didn't re-emerge for 2 years. Needless to say, expectations were high as there had been no studio release from the band in 3 years. But even without the expectations, this album is suffering from serious identity issues, and this can not be blamed on the entry of Roland Grapow into the band, because his compositional effort "The Chance" is the only 100% excellent offering on here.
One of the problems that immediately jumps out at you when you listen to the album is the ridiculous intro that carries the same title as the album. This underscores the different lyrical direction that the band took here, choosing to try to either satirize humanity or make some otherwise witty critique of it, which in even the case of some allegedly brilliant philosophers and thinkers, is a recipe for disaster.
There are some decent songs on here. "Kids of the Century" is a decent rocker, though I am getting a bit annoyed with all the damned environmentalist propaganda that various rock and metal groups seem all to willing to help spread. "Number One" is a rather down tempo melodic track that has a nice catchy chorus. "Heavy Metal Hamsters" is an awesome rocker musically, although the lyrics seem to be pandering a bit too much to the rather false notion that metal didn't evolve, it did it consistently for more than a decade. Why do you think that metal lasted from 12 years in many forms, while the so-called Grunge scene died completely with Kurt Cobain after a reign of 3 or 4 years. "Your Turn" is lyrically a bit strange, but musically it is rather good, particularly the acoustic sections and the vocals.
There is only one truly great track on here, and that is "The Chance". Probably the most intense vocal performance Michael Kiske has ever delivered, combined with one of the most insane and brilliant solos every written courtesy maestro Roland Grapow. If this album had been more oriented in the direction that this track was, it would have been a brilliant change of pace from the "Keeper" albums, but sadly this did not happen.
Although not a total throwaway, it is definitely sub-par for what Helloween is capable of, and in my view at the bottom of the list in their 25 year history. I for one can not strongly recommend this album as I don't believe in buying an entire release for 4 or 5 songs. But for the sake of the songs mentioned, if you can find a second hand copy of this for $6 or less (or the equivalent in your currency), you may want to get it.
After the success of the Keepers albums by the german metlars Helloween, the group fell into some disarray with the departure of Kai Hansan who formed his own band Gamma Ray and the band was going through some problems with its previous record company Noise. In comes Roland Grapow who pens some of the finest tracks on this record. This record is NOT a sell out album, but it definitly shows signs of the band going soft.
The album kicks off with a short acoustic interlude with Michael Kiske singing a little noodle saying pink bubbles have gone ape. The awkward look on my face disappeared as soon "Kids of the Century" blasts off with speed and a delightful chorous as this is one of the top tracks on this album. "Back on the Streets" does not let up either as it continues the assault with high speed and fast riff work by Michael Weikath and Grapow. "I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man" has some good guitar work also, but kind of falls flat in the chorous. This album is high on speed, but unfortunately it does not last.
A couple songs on here just fall flat on their face. The first one is the cheesy, terribly written song "Number One." The high thumping bass along with the horrible lyrics makes me want to puke. Another one is "Mankind." This is obviously an attempt for an epic sounding song, but it is too long and just drags on with no interesting arrangements and it has a glaringly poppy chorous and melody. It is just plain boring. The other song that can be thrown away is the last song and a ballad calle "Your Turn." Any ballad by a heavy metal band that has Mickey Mouse in the lyrics is bad. Now, I don't have anything aganist Mickey Mouse, but he should not be referenced in a ballad by Helloween!
One of things noticeable on this record is this album features many "happy" sounding riffs which is evident in "Goin' Home" as well as the ones i mentioned above. Helloween is known for this, but it has a huge presense on this record. It is not annoying, but it might be to some people who want more heaviness and "mean" sounding riffs, but it should not deter the sheer enjoyment one will get from this record.
Something that must be mentioned is Michael Kiske's performance on this album. He is flawless bellowing out the vocals with great range and presense in these songs. Just take a listen to "Someone's Crying" and you will know what I mean. Kiske brings another great performance on this Helloween album.
You do not have to approach this album with caution. The speed and the great guitar work by Weikath and the newly recruited Roland Grapow make this a worthwhile album. Go out and give this album a try. You should not be disappointed. Buy it. Love it. Like it. Own it.
Helloween - Pink Bubbles Go Ape
The is the first full-length release since the departure of founding member Kai Hansen. According to an interview with Michal Weikath, Hansen left due to demands placed upon the band by their record label at the time, as well as musical differences. With the absence of Hansen, Helloween has virtually left speed behind and gone into straight Power Metal.
After a short, goofy, acoustic intro, the album breaks into ‘Kids of the Century’, a peppy and upbeat tune much in the classic Helloween style. Michael Kiske proves that he still has the pipes to pull off some clean high notes. A pretty decent Powel Metal anthem.
The following track ‘Back on the Streets’ is just plain groovy, featuring a sped up blues beat. Some pretty decent Speed licks are to be found within, but it sounds a little forced. I think the guys didn’t really have the heart for Speed anymore.
‘Number One’ is the traditional Helloween upbeat song of heartbreak and loss, a la ‘A Tale that Wasn’t Right’. A lot of “faith” business is to be heard in the lyrics though, which frankly puts me off. After this, the album levels out, but it’s not exactly a high level.
‘Heavy Metal Hamsters’ is the next track. Seriously. Maybe it sounded better in German.
Hamsters? What the fuck? Weikath claims this was supposed to be a B-side that found its way onto the album, and has taken a lot of grief for it over the years. Which, if you ask me, is richly deserved. It’s not even a catchy song, and sounds ever bit like it was written for someone’s kid.
‘Goin’ Home’ is, in my opinion, just filler. It showcases the talents of guitarist and bassist, but it’s not the best melody. ‘Someone’s Crying’ is appropriately titled. Enough said about that. ‘Mankind’ is another attempt at a Helloween anthem, and further proof that the anthem thing was really Hansen’s gig. It’s just not there, a meandering mess of attempted keyboard-mood and standard Powel Metal rhythm.
The album could have easily ended there, but apparently they had some songs left over. That can be the only explanation for ‘I’m Doin’ Fine, Crazy Man’, ‘The Chance’, and ‘Your Turn’. They are up tempo and generally peppy, which is typical of Helloween, but the melodies just plain suck. Out loud.
What to do with this album? It is clearly a post-Kai Hansen transitional piece. The first few songs sound like they were written earlier, then they kind of chunked together the rest because they were under contract. This band was clearly suffering creatively. Still I’d put ‘Kids of the Century’ and ‘Back on the Streets’ in my Helloween mix without shame, so I suppose it’s worth something.
Pink Bubbles Go Ape made the Helloween fans of the day curse the name of Kai Hansen for jumping ship on the band. Helloween was left for dead, but thankfully they've fought their way past the stigma to return as one of the great power metal bands. This certainly isn't their best work, but I don't feel it's as bad as some people have said.
There are some gripes here. I find it hard to believe that Chris Tsangarides produced this album and Judas Priest's Painkiller. Painkiller has a clear, crushing sound, and this album sounds like it was filtered through a bed blanket. Maybe JP had a better budget and studio support, or maybe Chris was shooting up a lot during the making of this album. It really just doesn't sound very good. It also doesn't help any with the inclusion of Heavy Metal Hamsters. Michael Weikath was outraged that this song made the final pressing of the album, and for good reason. It sucks. Certainly the metal community agreed, as nobody ever made a Black Metal Gerbils or Death Metal Bunnies. Rodents and metal just don't mix.
I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man is no gem either. It has a really annoying chorus, and was probably also better off not being recorded. The intro to the album you can also slot into the garbage category. It's not quite the same warmup as they had on the Keeper albums or even Irritation from Master of the Rings. The lyrics to it are nonsensical and dumb, and the goofy little music to it is stupid as well. It's like the type of thing you and your buddies would record under the influence, and only play back for laughs. Helloween felt it was good enough to start the album. Why?
Now that I'm done bashing the bad of this album, there is some definite good here. Mankind is a great song, as well as Goin' Home, a strange song to say the least but one of my favorites on here. It's a lot of fun. Kids of the Century and Back On the Streets are decent, as is Number One. The Chance seems to be the only song here that the band wants to hang their hat on, as it was on the Treasure Chest collection, but there are other good songs here too.
Overall this is an enjoyable album, though not their greatest work. A worthwhile purchase to round out your Helloween collection, as there are some great songs here to enjoy. Don't be fooled by the retarded album title and lame artwork, this album really isn't as bad as those would imply. I like it a lot, despite it's faults.
Coming out from a law-suit after their label change and a huge line-up change which leaves legendary guitarist-songwriter Kai Hansen out of the band, Helloween come back with "Pink Bubbles Go Ape". A record which was bashed by music critics due to the fact that the band changed their music to a small effect when compared to their highly praised Keeper Of The Seven Keys records.
"Pink Bubbles..." admitably has a really strange, even silly title but this is not the case with the song writing. The music departs a bit from the continuous double-bass drumming stile and is enriched with more progressive and at parts mainstream ideas. Some songs are softer than the usual tracks found on the Keeper records reminding more of heavy metal than power metal, but that's not a drawback for sure.
Without diving into each and every song, I'm going to name only the outstanding ones! "Mankind" is a great-epic and progressive song with wonderful vocal and musical variations. "The Chance" is a mid-paced heavy metal anthem, which contains some of the albums best vocals and is the most known track from this relish. "Someone's Crying" is the only song that could be categorized as pure power metal (fast double-base drumming), a truly great song, which reminds a lot of their previous albums. "Your Turn" is a wonderful rock -blues ballad with great vocals and finally "Kids of the Century" is another fast song with smart lyrics and great solos.
The new guitarists R.Grapow proves to be a worthy replacement, as his guitar playing is outstanding and he also contributes some great tracks to the album. Vocalist Michael Kiske has improved even more (if that could be possible) in both technicality and emotion delivering his best vocal performance up to that point. While the other 3 band members, especially drummer Ingo, continue to show how talented musicians they are.
The only drawback of this album are silly tracks "Heavy Metal Hamster", "I'm Doin Fine..." and "Pink Bubbles..." and the production, which is kind of weak, making the vocals and the drums stand out above the rest.
You should definitely give this album a chance, if you enjoyed Helloweens previous relishes, as you can see how the band progresses and doesn't continue repeating itself for the sake of record sales.
I tried so hard to like this album, I really did. But I just failed, completely, and so did Helloween when they tried to follow up the masterly Keeper series with this steaming pile of goo. This is pretty damn boring throughout nearly the entire album, with a few memorable moments yet not nearly enough to save it from the realms of suckage. I'll disagree with the first two reviewers, in that this IS very different from the Keepers. There's more of a hard rock-ish vibe and quality to the songwriting, which just isn't what Helloween do best. Very few speed metal moments like the riffwork of I'm Alive, no power metal atmospheres like Twilight of the Gods, and Michael Kiske doesn't seem to put in much of an effort at all into his vocal performance.
He used to fucking nail all those high notes on the Keepers with such precision and emotion, it still blows me away whenever I hear it. Here, due to the held-back music on this album, he has to limit his voice quite severely, and it comes to show that in this area his vocals are surprisingly weak and faint, and he comes off as pretty damn mediocre.
Oh yeah, and then there is the production. It's quite unbelievable to see that Chris Tsangarides handled this, just one year after his work on Painkiller! It's way too low and weak. The drums have no punch and the guitarwork is somewhat low in the mix (not to mention that the guitar tone is hideously boring and forgettable). The only thing he does is to get the phenomenal bass of Markus Grosskopf just as loud as it should be.
But Grosskopf on his own can't save this album. The way they tried to do power metal with a hard rock-ish vibe just didn't work, and it feels like they've somehow slowed down the music and decreased the intensity even though they didn't want to, and the entire album feels very forced.
Heavy Metal Hamsters for example has kinda memorable vocal melodies, yet there's something about the general vibe of the album that makes it horribly uninteresting, to me at least. Back On The Streets, Goin' Home and Mankind all have decent songwriting, but the playing feels uninspired and there's no passion or feeling at all on here, and the boring guitar tone and production don't help.
And then there is the occasionally completely retarded moment. Number One is one of the lamest ballads I've ever heard ("Now it's time for happiness"- okay, I'm usually all for happy power ballads, but seriously, WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!), and I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man makes me want to destroy things. And not in the good way, like I do when listening to Pleasure To Kill, but rather in the bad way like when listening to St. Angry.
However, there are three songs on Pink Bubbles Go Ape that are actually worthwhile. The opening track (well, right after the goofy acoustic intro Pink Bubbles Go Ape) Kids of the Century is a pretty mediocre piece of heavy/power metal with decent melodies in the guitarwork, and a quite memorable chorus. Not a great song by any means, but a highlight compared to the other stuff on here. Then Someone's Crying which sounds like leftovers from the Keepers material, which is a mile ahead of the other stuff on here. Finally some real speed metal riffs, memorable vocal lines and an AWESOME chorus. Right on that "someone is crying" part is exactly how Michael Kiske is supposed to sound. Hell yes, awesome song. And finally, the closing ballad Your Turn has some decent emotional moments, and is overall okay. No more, no less.
But these three decent moments only give a slight redeeming value to the utterly boring shit found on the rest of the album.
That's right, this is one of Helloween's most essential albums and also the last of their speed metal era. Most of the speed metal elements have already disappeared but enough is left to call many of the tracks on here speed metal. I have no idea why so many people bash this album. For the most part, it's not too different from the Keeper albums, just a bit more straight forward and much more absurd. That's right, the majority of this album is like 'Rise And Fall'. Perhapse it's the album and song titles that they hate, but as far as I know, these songs rock!
Pink Bubbles Go Ape - Not a very good start to the album. This intro is very goofy, and no, not the good type of goofy that Helloween is good at doing, this just sucks. Oh well, the next track doesn't, that's for sure.
Kids Of The Century - I wouldn't call this one speed metal, but boy does it rock! The riffs are pretty damn heavy and double bass is used, though not at a fast pace. Michael Kisk is in top form here, delivering an incredible vocal performance especially in the chorus. A very well done, catchy tune, just great!
Back On The Streets - This one is more of a speed metal tune, though not very heavy. It's average at best, quite catchy but Kisk doesn't use very good vocal range and the riffs are weak, unlike on the previous track.
Number One - A beautiful semi ballad, not all that heavy either but the vox is used quite well, Kisk puts it into full range here. Actually, his voice is quite tamed out on here, but it's powerful in its own unique way.
Heavy Metal Hamsters - Here we go now with the odd, absurd titles. What the fuck is a heavy metal hamster!?!? The world may never know...but this is indeed a cool song. I don't think it's the best one on here but it's pretty fuckin' catchy and VERY well structured. It's one of those songs that stays nailed to the back of your skull, whether you love it or hate it.
Goin' Home - The speed metal elements now return. Though being one of the fastest on the album, this tune is pretty weak. The chorus is not very memorable, plus the riff work and vox are just average, nothing really special, but nothing bad at all.
Someone's Crying - Now this is an AWESOME song! I can safetly call this a real speed metal tune. Awesome double bass, it's pretty heavy and Kisk just blows you away here with his vocal performance. Not to mention the this contains one killer chorus! One's of Helloween's best songs, whether you agree or not.
Mankind - Another heavy track, though very straight forward. It has a driving, mid-paced rhythm to it, causing it to be pretty catchy and easy to sing along to. Hey, with a cool song like this you can't help but sing along to it. So yes, this is another essential Helloween tune, and very underrated also.
I'm Doing Fine, Crazy Man - I think that this belongs on the 'Chameleon' album, because it sucks. Okay fine, it's an average tune but for Helloween, this is shit. Forget the stupid, almost meaningless (at least to me) song title, that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that the music sucks, it's weak and boring. No where near metal at all, or even traditional rock for that matter. It sounds for like a folk tune.
The Chance - Now here's a cool one. If there were such thing as a speed metal ballad, this would be it. A semi-soft tune in a ballad form, though double bass is used through out the entire song, just as it would be used for a speed metal song. If you're a bit puzzled as to what I am talking about, you'll have to hear the song for yourself.
Your Turn - The album closes with a very well done ballad. Not as good as 'A Tale That Wasn't Right' or even the ballad that ends off 'Chameleon' (yes, you read it right, the ballad that closes of 'Chameleon' is better than this one, but I'll get into that a bit more with my review for that album), but it's a great tune. Good song structure and GREAT vocal performace, done by the one and only Michael Kisk. This guy can do no wrong when it comes to vox.
So an overall great effort by the band, one that fans should not be so harsh on. I could understand if this was 'Chameleon', but it's not, it's a solid heavy metal album from the speed metal gods.
This album is not nearly as awful as people would like to think it is. In fact, I dare say it's better than Keeper I, in that there is more content and less filler. The content isn't quite as strong, but it is close. Even the closing ballad, "Your Turn" is pretty decent, and completely blows away "A Tale That Wasn't RIght".
Best song: you'd be surprised, it's "Heavy Metal Hamsters". Totally and completely well-written, despite the goofball title. "Kids of the Century" and "The Chance" are also very nice. There are no overtly bad songs on here, really. Sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say lyrically ("I'm Doing Fine Crazy Man"???) but the music is solid.
A very good album. Oh and the album cover makes no fucking sense either. Learn to deal with the absurd.