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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.