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Obviously struggling creatively here - 40%

GTog, December 26th, 2006

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.