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Helloween is one of the bands that invented the genre of power metal, and the band that got me into the genre in the first place. I discovered them about three years ago, and really liked what I heard. I always listened more to the Deris than the Kiske stuff. I didn't really go beyond Helloween back then, but nowdays, I'm discovering band after band that are all able to do a good job making excellent power metal. Now however, it's time to go back to the band I started with. And that was not a bad decision at all!
The band has been on a rampage lately, with their last two releases "Gambling With The Devil" and "7 Sinners", and it continues fully on Straight Out of Hell. The songs are very well written, and will keep almost any fan of the genre interested all the way through. There are some small bumps on the ride with tracks like "Live Now", "Wanna Be God" and "Asshole" that could maybe have been tweaked a little, but they are definitely not songs that kill the experience of listening to this album. "Live Now" is generally not too bad of a song. It just needs a slightly longer verse. "Wanna Be God" is an unusual song coming from a band like Helloween, and can certainly remind one of "We Will Rock You" by Queen, which is also where the idea came from. "Asshole" is a groove/poppy song with it's own charm, but could have been a bonus track, in my opinion. And as far as the rest of the tracks go, they all work really well for me!
When I think of Helloween, I immediately think of Andi Deris. He has always been the voice of Helloween for me. I don't have anything against Kiske, but compared to Deris, I don't think he's anything special. Deris proves once again why he is the right vocalist for Helloween on this record. He shows that he hasn't lost any range at all over the years, with nice low vocals on tracks like "Hold Me In Your Arms" and "Waiting For The Thunder", and also uses some high shrieks on songs like "Nabataea" and "World of War". He also maintains the instantly recognizable vibe in his voice, which will make anyone remember who he is at once.
Michael Weikath and Sascha Gertsner have filled this album with solid riffs and solos. I did not notice any lack of quality riffs in pretty much any song on Straight Out of Hell. Both of them provide killer riffs, both fast and slow. There may be some slightly rehashes, but it never became a problem for me. The solos are also there, and give the songs the extra character they need.
This release was produced in kind of a weird way. I don't have anything against the sound, but I do believe it could've been even better. I feel that the production is focused on bringing the bass (not the bass guitar) in the front, making it a very "pounding sounding" album. I wish the production was a little more like on "Gambling...", but as with many other things, it wasn't something that ruined the experience for me.
If you liked the last couple of albums from Helloween, I can almost guarrantee that you're going to like this one as well. That alone should help you make your decision if you want to get it or not. I would of course advice anyone to at least listen to it though, so go ahead and do that!