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Let me get one thing out of the way here, this album is goofy as hell, but it freaking rules. I like to think of Kai Hansen as an evil genius or maybe a mad scientist, the guy is super talented and an amazing guitar player, but his song writing is way outside of the box sometimes (okay maybe most of the time). I personally love his wackiness (being a massive Primus fan, I'm used to stuff like this), and I think it adds to the charm of the album. All this being said, this is one of the fastest, heaviest, rawest, and most powerful metal albums ever released.
The songs of Walls of Jericho range from fast to lightning fast, with the exception of "Gorgar" and "Reptile" which are still pretty dang fast. When I first heard this I was not at all prepared, I thought it was going to be a happy, cinnamon roll-filled joyride; the album does in fact kick off with a goofy rendition of "London Bridge is Falling Down" on keys, so you really have no idea what to expect. Then the opening riff to "Ride the Sky" comes in and it's insane. This song is a perfect example of what the rest of the album is going to pelt you with. All of the songs are full of wicked quick riffs and licks, and lots of very technical lead breaks. Mixed in with the mayhem, however, are some other more varying riffs. Such as the verse riff to the wicked awesome "Phantoms of Death", the galloping section towards the end of "Guardians", and especially the badass chugging verse riffs of "Gorgar". This helps to break up the insanity of the speed of the riffs, and it really helps to add diversity, not that speed is a bad thing, but the addition of those tasteful interludes and riffs really show the songwriting skill of the young Helloween. This is another difficult album to try to pick the best tracks from, but my favorites are definitely "Phantoms of Death" (which is the song that made me a fan of this band), "Ride the Sky", "Gorgar", "Metal Invaders", and "Guardians". My least favorite is definitely "Heavy Metal is the Law", which a bit unnecessary in my opinion. It is a bit lackluster compared to the rest of the album, although it does have it's moments; such as the cool bass part towards the end, other than that, it's kinda sloppy and sounds thrown together. Other than that, there is no really "bad" songs on here. They are all well done (albeit lacking polish), interesting, and of course very fast with lots of awesome riffs.
The production on Walls of Jericho is decent at best. It is by no means terrible, but it definitely will get kind of muddy at times, especially during the ridiculously complicated lead sections (see "Ride the Sky", "Metal Invaders", and "Phantoms of Death"). Despite it's serious production flaws, there are two things that are awesome about it. First, the guitars sound absolutely WICKED. Just go listen to Phantoms of Death's intro riff on full blast volume and you'll know what I mean, the same goes for "Gorgar", that verse riff just kills. Second, the bass is really freaking loud. As a bassist I think this is pretty awesome, as the basslines (Markus Grosskopf is an awesome bass player by the way) really add some epic parts to the song (see the basslines to "Metal Invaders" and "Guardians"). A lot of people, however, really dislike the bass on this album, so be warned if things like this annoy you. I happen to think the bass on here rules, but to each their own I guess. This is definitely not a great production job, but it's not awful. Once you get used to it, you barely notice its flaws.
Ok, now for the thing most people can't handle on this album. Kai's vocals. He is nuts. For the later (and I gotta say, ridiculously good) Gamma Ray albums, Kai Hansen had a much more controlled and mature voice and he sang very well on those albums, but here he is young, energetic, and he has one of the most unique voices you will ever hear. He basically sings in that classic power vocalist kind of style, but it is full of energy and angst, and it really is awesome. I actually like Kai's vocals (or vrrr) on here way better than I like Kiske's vocals on the next few albums. Michael Kiske is a really great vocalist, but he lacked the sheer power Kai was capable of. He definitely has an oddball approach to the vocals on Walls of Jericho, but he did an outstanding job. And you gotta love his funny (yet badass) squeals and when he soars to epic high notes like at around 2:56 into "Metal Invaders".
The instrumentation here? Just as insane as Kai's vocals. Everything is lightning fast, but it still is able to keep reigns on everything to keep it from sounding like a big mess. The guitar (or might I say, grrr) work of both Kai and Michael Weikath is absolutely spot on. The riff work on here is unrivaled when it comes to super quick licks and riffs. The rhythm section is very impressive here as well. The drumming (drrr, anyone?) of Ingo Schwictenberg is just spectacular, his fills and his stamina are out of this world. Markus Grosskopf is also one hell of a bass (Brrr) player, each and every one of the songs on here are full of epic basslines. All in all, these guys had it together, and really slayed everything on Walls of Jericho.
Walls of Jericho remains one of my favorite metal releases ever, I never get sick of the raw speed and energy this album has. It's always fun to hook up the stereo and blast "Phantoms of Death" or "Gorgar". This album is a little difficult to get into, especially if you are a newer heavy metal fan, but once your used to it, you start to love it. I thought it was totally weird, and was not a fan, but I heard "Phantoms of Death" and was sold. I gave the album a chance, and now it is one of my favorite metal albums. I would recommend this to fans of speed metal and power metal, and to anyone who would like to try out something new. Walls of Jericho is full of goofy, cheesy, yet wicked and badass songs, and if you get the version I own you get the Helloween EP with the Walls of Jericho LP, and the EP is really good too. Overall, Walls of Jericho is a metal classic, and an excellent album.
Helloween were just another underground band before this album was released. Another underground band that was considered to be underrated by people who followed them. That all started to change, when this album was released. They started to get a larger following, and people in Europe started to talk a lot more about this band. This was the start of a great career for them. Helloween are one of my favorite bands, and they are worshiped by power metallians, being credited as the founders of the genre. This album, however, is not power metal...at all! This is a speed metal album, and it definitely has an original sound. By combining the melody, and technicality of Iron Maiden with the speed and aggression of bands such as Venom and Rage, the album gives the listener a feeling that isn't quite definable, but it's definitely awesome.
Michael Weikath is the melodic, technicality-driven one of the two guitarists (the Maiden-ish one) and Kai Hansen is the nasty, aggressive one (the Venom/Rage-ish one), and his vocals sort of paint a picture in my mind of Bruce Dickinson singing in a thrash metal band (although the music is speed metal). Markus Grosskopf demonstrates more talent on this album than any other. While his style of playing isn't always the most original, it definitely impresses the listener, with it's smooth, yet complex playing. Like the other Helloween albums with him, Ingo Schwichtenberg (God rest his soul) has a high-energy, machine gun-style of playing on this album that definitely shows off his talent and adds to the fierceness of the music.
The title track/intro leaves the listener in suspense, until it dives into "Ride The Sky", which shivers up the listener's spine, and is perhaps one of the more "epic" tracks on the album. Other epics include the melodic "Guardians" which is probably the closest thing to power metal on this album, "Metal Invaders" which has a gloomy, somewhat gothic sound, and "Heavy Metal (Is The Law) which has the best solo and riff on the album. "How Many Tears" is also an example, but the song is kind of weak, so I don't listen to it very often. Some other tracks have a flat-out nasty sound, such as "Phantoms Of Death", which is a little unorganized, but that works, and the bonus-track "Judas", which sounds like something that an executioner would play during a time when he was putting someone to death. "Reptile", sounds like a bit of a tribute to the Super Mario Bros Super Show (even though it wasn't around yet), and "Gorger", is a funk-influenced track that has quite a heavy riff in the background.
Overall, this is a magnificent speed metal album that really delivered to euro-metalheads when it was released. It is quite ahead of it's time, and it still holds up today. Sure, it's a little inconsistent, with the occasional wild-card music on tracks, but even that is enjoyable. It's a great album to burn off some steam to. Happy Happy Halloween!
"Walls of Jericho" remains one of the most popular entries in Helloween's lengthy 20+ years of existence. Compared to their future endeavors most of which are speedy but often very upbeat and sometimes downright syrupy melodic power metal, the Helloween here on "Walls of Jericho" presents an array of attacking, raw speed metal and straightforward heavy metal tracks. It remains loved and a number of genre fans are more than willing laud this album and decorate a review of it with something higher than a 90%. That's all well and good, but having said that, I don't like this album very much. There are some good moments here and there, and even a couple songs that are downright brilliant, but despite those numbers, there's too much of a mess going on here. I'd stop right here and say try "Gambling With The Devil" instead, but I'm here now so I may as well bitch about this thing.
Let's go over the band first, what do you say? Frontman and guitarist Kai Hansen leads the reigns. One of the few aspects of this album that pick is that many often find Hansen's vocal work weak and even at times annoying; well partly just go against the masses' opinions, I must disagree. Sure he's more amateurish here than his stronger, more balanced work later work in Gamma Ray, but the guy's passion and energy shine through, plus a dig some of the shrieks he lets loose here and there. Not content to be a simple vocalist, Hansen combines forces with Michael Weikath to create a strong guitar duo. Their work together is typically pretty damn good on here, especially when they go into their extended solos on stuff like "Ride The Sky" or "Phantoms of Death". Bass is provided by Markus Grosskopf, whose six string is often high in the mix, sometimes too high, and not for the better. I can't stand his bass tone on here; it's so loud and...well...it sounds like a damn fart! I mean come on! Finally drumming is courtesy of the late Ingo Schwichtenberg; he performs pretty strongly and fluidly, with a mix of your typical double bass speed metal bashing and some really jackhammering fills.
One of the first big issues I have with "Walls of Jericho" is the production. Even in its remastered state many songs sound very muddy, with a number of instruments becoming buried while other are haphazardly overproduced (THE DAMN BASS!). Many songs which may have been half tolerable are now partly garbled messes. Then even if the production was more solid (or at least charmingly raw a la "Show No Mercy" or "Breaker"), that still wouldn't stop a number of these songs from being totally uninspired or just plain stupid! Some songs are tolerable, like "Guardians" or closing epic "How Many Tears?", but at the most are pretty much forgettable after one listen. Then some songs are ruined by some half-baked idea gone awry. "Reptile" is solely interesting for its interesting proto-thrash structure, but it otherwise utterly sucks. Why? The lyrics. The lyrics to "Reptile" are immature, novelty gross-out stupidity, where Helloween tries out some of their trademark humor but failing miserably; this isn't "Rise And Fall" cleverness we got here, oh no! I don't wanna hear about people running to take a shit or getting jacked off by hookers! Then "Gorgar" has those dumb lyrics about a fucking pinball machine (nothing screams METAL like pinball!), and the cool Accept-like riffing and tempo of the song almost save it until the chorus pops up, featuring some of the most embarrassing gang vocals I ever heard in a metal song. "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)" is almost good, but who's idea was it to add in those lame "live crowd" sound effects that totally fuck the song's mood?
But at the end of the day, I still like Helloween. I like a great number of their songs from all across their studio albums, even if I don't personally hold the group in my higher tier of favorites like Accept or Grave Digger when it comes to German metal. I can say happily that "Walls of Jericho" falls into this regard, for this album has three (four if you have the version I have) saving grace tracks to it. After the pointless, short instrumental title track, we are greeted by "Ride The Sky". "Ride The Sky" is one of the finest speed metal songs ever recorded, right up there with "Thundersteel", "Painkiller" and "Fast As A Shark". The riffing is neck-snapping in its aggression, the extended solo intricate, memorable and never boring, and the chorus is almost shattering in its elegance; awesome, awesome stuff! But for as fantastic as that song is, "Phantoms of Death" is almost even better. Playing like a more mid-paced brother to "Ride The Sky", this punishing epic has a number of memorable riffs, including a chilling keyboard riff during the verses, various tempo changes, and another extended, blazing solo. "Metal Invaders" isn't nearly as mesmerizing as those last two, but it's a pretty fun song and at least lacks any stupid moments. Lastly, if you have the version I have, you'll get the single "Judas" as a bonus track; it's a pretty good number, with a nifty outro, a mean, blazing chorus and a solid, up-tempo atmosphere.
Overall, I find "Walls of Jericho" to be one of the most unjustly overrated albums in the world of German metal. The band performs often quite smoothly, though the bass gets on my nerves sometimes, but most of the songs are here are ruined by just plain bad decisions, whether it be lame lyrics, a bad chorus or just a general lack of creativity behind them. The muddy, garbled production doesn't help matters either. The average metalhead might probably enjoy this more than myself, but I personally recommend downloads of "Ride The Sky", "Phantoms of Death" and "Judas" instead. I say download the songs that have some dignity and integrity behind them and fucking be done with it!
(My version of this album is the 2006 rereleased / expanded addition)
Before I begin I shall attempt to clear the air; although I do enjoy power metal I am not what one would call an avid power metal fan. This was my most recent acquisition from the Helloween legacy (I started with KotSK pt 2, and although it got several spins and still receives somewhat sporadic attention from me, it is far from my favourite record) and i must say that had I started my journey into Kai Hansen's (I don't care if he left over 20 years ago, as far as i'm concerned Kai will always be part of Helloween) musical endeavours with this record I would most probably own a lot more Helloween and a lot more Gamma Ray.
Firstly, to validate my opening statement, this IS NOT a power metal album. Sure, there are signs of what is to come (Walls of Jericho/Ride the Sky and Guardians definitely have signs of a future sway towards power metal), but for the most part this is a pure speed metal album, akin with Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind. As predominantly a thrash / speed / technical thrash / anything-to-do-with-melodic-fast-music fan this record really appealed to me. Right from its inception, even with the humorous little introductory phase leading into 'Starlight', I instantly saw similarities with Blind Guardian's 'Battalions of Fear' (which is arguably one of the best speed metal records ever made, but that's another story) and as such my attention was instantly solidified. What was to follow was over an hour of pure speed metal bliss. A constant barrage of melodic riffs, dual guitar solos, catchy (and highly audible) bass lines and drumming that would make any thrash / speed enthusiast instantly pull out the air-drumsticks and invisible double-kick pedals.
Vocally, I must say, Kai Hansen is my preferred choice over all that has been, that is, and is to come, from Helloween. Yes, I know, I know, Michael Kiske was a genius, but for what this album is trying to do Kai's vocals really work well. Once again (forgive me for reverting attention back to Blind Guardian), it is comparable to Hansi's vocals on Battalions of Fear; though he had not yet come into his own, any change to his sound would most definitely detract from the sound of the record as a whole. Kai's raspy, yet still powerful at times, voice really gives this record that juvenile 80's sound, and that, my friends, is something that no studio can produce in the present day, no matter how hard they try (please remember that Lars Ulrich...).
This record is like an artillery barrage from an 19th century cannon, there are so many different things being thrown at you here that one cannot help but be paralysed by the incredible sound..; Round shot of that 80's Germanic speed metal sound; Grapeshot belting you with a barrage of melodic riffs and dual guitar solos; exploding shells of catchy bass lines; and, to top it off, a shower of incendiary in the form of incredible drumming. The sound of this record truly is something special, and I guarantee that if one can listen to this record without getting a certain riff, or even bass line, stuck in ones head then I will eat my own foot (an interesting sales pitch, Kai should have used that one after releasing this record).
As with all genres of metal, what appeals to one may not necessarily appeal to another (as with the constant Black metal 'classics' that, no matter how much people rave about them, I think sound awful), but, and I say this with the utmost sincerity and with a fervent commitment to impartiality, I cannot see how anyone would not appreciate what this record delivers. This album has pretty much been on repeat for the last week or so (with temporary shifts to Megadeth's most recent effort and Stormwarrior's 'Heading Northe') and I, no matter how hard I try, cannot find one second that fails to deliver that sweet, sweet feeling of heavy metal bliss! Any fan of fast music, melodic music, metal music, (hell, music in general) really should give this record a go, because i guarantee that it will not fail to impress!
Highlights - EVERYTHING!
Super-highlights - Starlight, Murderer, Cry for Freedom, Metal Invaders, Heavy Metal (Is the Law), Gorgar, How Many Tears.
Seriously people, buy this record, it will be like getting your record player and incredibly hot girlfriend that it will want to fornicate with every waking moment.... It's really THAT good!
So this is where it all began. Understandably Helloween had already released an EP by this point and had been featured on the Death Metal compilation, but this is where it truly all started. By that I not only am talking about Helloween's career, but power metal in general. Now I'm not saying this is a power metal album. No, this falls under the genre of speed metal. But all of the hints are already there. With the release of this album, power metal was sure to come soon, and the next release of the Keeper of the Seven Keys made it a reality.
Not only was this album a critical step in the formation of the entire genre of power metal, but this is also quite an amazing demonstration of speed metal! Take the guitars of Hansen and Weikath, add in the raspy, nasal-like vocals of Hansen, back that up with the insane drumming of Schwichtenberg (R.I.P.), throw in the exemplary bass work of Grosskopf, and you have yourself one fine speed metal masterpiece!
The opening instrumental "Walls of Jericho" leads right into the title track which opens up the album as perhaps its best track. This song is a speed metal anthem and Kai's screaming of "Ride the sky!" is sure to bring any metal fan shivers up their spine. The next song, "Reptile", is the weakest on the album, but still a fun speed metal song to listen to although nothing too special about it. This is followed by "Guardians" which brings the bar right back up near the level of "Ride the Sky". The bassline in this track really helps to complete the song and puts this as another highlight of the album. "Phantoms of Death" is another great speed metal song with a memorable riff. Following this is another great speed metal anthem, "Metal Invaders". "Gorgar" is an odd song about a pinball machine, but it works! The classical theme brought in by the solo is really great, and the chorus will make you laugh every time. After this is "Heavy Metal (Is the Law)" which has a similar sound to "Ride the Sky", but the chorus is totally different and shouts the truth of heavy metal! The album is capped off with its longest song, a seven and a half minute masterpiece entitled "How Many Tears". This song sums up the album as a great speed metal song with an awesome solo section in the middle.
All in all this is a fantastic speed metal album that brought attention to Helloween just before their release of the first true power metal album, and thus was pivotal in the genre's creation. In addition, this is a great album to rock out to and listen to some awesome speed metal! Not one song on this album is uninteresting, with "Reptile" being the only one that isn't totally awesome from start to finish. Up the irons, and happy helloween!
Power metal doesn’t get any better than a classic album by Helloween. Each of their first three albums are the definition of what made power metal. Unlike the two Keeper albums, however, Walls of Jericho is a significantly different piece of work. Instead of the legendary Michael Kiske, we have guitarist Kai Hansen on vocals. Not only does Walls have a different voice, but it also has a rawer sound to it than the Keeper albums, probably why the album is also considered a speed metal album. If you want to call it power, speed, or both doesn’t matter; Walls of Jericho is a kickass album.
Helloween define speed/power metal on this album with a juiced up Iron Maiden sound. Basically Iron Maiden with the speed and aggression of Metallica. That is seen with thrashy and fast riffs plus twin guitar harmonies and very epic, yet in-your-face vocals. Kai Hansen doesn’t get much credit as a singer in my opinion. He pulls off some mean vocals here with a lot of Halford inspired screams. This would be the only album Kai would sing for the band, though he picks up the mic about ten years later with his current project, Gamma Ray. Michael Weikath works with Kai on guitar and wow. Some great guitar work is featured on this album. Each song has fast, thrashy riffs, beatiful guitar harmonies, and blazing solos. On the kit is late drummer Ingo Switchenberg and holy shit this guy can pound. Right up there with Dave Lombardo (well not really but close enough)! Bass player Markus Grosskopf, who, with Weikath, is the only original member left in the band, is a fucking beast. Every song features complex basslines and fills and sometimes even melodies. VERY underrated bassist. I’d call this one of my favorite band line ups ever.
I have the extended rerelease of the album, so it includes the five tracks from the “Helloween” EP released in 1984. Starlight opens up with a goofy intro with a man watching TV and burping before Kai enters in with a wailling scream right before the rest of the band joins in and follows with a BADASS riff. When I first heard this riff I thought, “HOLY SHIT!” and was head banging like crazy to it. Why couldn’t they play that riff again in this song?! The rest of the song is speed fucking metal that continues to the following track, Murderer. Murderer also has haunting chants in the chorus and Kai ends the song with a great scream. Just listen to the lyrics:
“MURDERER! In every town.”
“MURDERER! To the whole world.”
“MURDERER! You’re on the run.”
“MURDERER! You’ll have to kill…AGAIN!”
Next is Warrior. Warrior opens up with another ass kicking riff and later features a sweet lead melody. Kai’s vocals here are just plain creepy. One of my favorite Helloween songs EVER! Victim of Fate is even better with a riff that is Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law” on speed. About three minutes of this song is soft with Kai speaking in a haunting voice and ending the song with one of THE GREATEST FUCKING SCREAMS IN ALL OF MUSIC!!
Cry For Freedom is different, as it starts with some acoustic guitars and melodic soloing. Later on, this song is another speed metal mania. Kai’s vocals are a little bit whiney here but it’s not that bad. After this song, we go into the actual Walls of Jericho album with the title track.
“Walls of Jericho” is a short instrumental with an orchestra perfoming “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” Did I mention that Helloween have always had the tendancy to be silly and cheesey? Well this is just the beginning. “Walls of Jericho” goes straight into “Ride The Sky,” a speed metal frenzy, probably the fastest song on the album. You can see the Judas Priest influence in this song for the vocals alone, Kai screams a lot like Rob Halford here and there is more dual soloing as well. Next is “Reptile.” This song sounds almost more thrash than speed metal with a powerful Metallica style riff. Marcus really shines on bass here during the pre-chorus. But remember I mentioned the cheese would get better? It does right here with the lyrics to “Reptile.” Classic power metal.
“Guardians” is probably the most emotional track on the album. It’s not a ballad, it just has a lot of melodic singing and soloing with a wonderful chorus. It’s songs like this that make me wish Kai stayed in the band and still sang (but we have Gamma Ray for that). “Phantoms of Death” contains more melodic singing but also features a kickass singalong chorus!
“Phantoms! Of death!”
“Phantoms! Of death!”
“Phantoms” also features a great bridge section with some harmonized tapping and Ingo pulling off a crazy drum beat. I miss this guy (RIP!). Another speed metal classic follows up with “Metal Invaders.” As the title suggests, this song is about heavy fucking metal, a classic theme in all of heavy metal. Much like “Ride the Sky,” “Metal Invaders” opens with a speedy riff. One of my favorite pre-choruses is on this song. It’s just so haunting and goes perfect with the metal anthem. Cheese returns once again with “Gorgar,” a song about a pinball machine. A fucking pinball machine! How silly does that sound?! But hey, it’s power metal. It opens up with some sweet arpeggios and has another thrashy riff and memorable chorus.
“Gorgar will eat you! GORGAR! Man you’ll never win! Hey!”
Oh hell yeah! Cheesy, yet badass. Heavy metal is worshipped once again with “Heavy Metal (Is The Law)” showing Helloween’s loyalty to the art of metal. Ingo fucking rips on this song with an intro that gives Dave Lombardo a run for his money! He and Marcus once again shine in a speedy breakdown with both playing solo before a crowding chanting along with Kai to HEEEEAVY METAL! God, Helloween can’t get enough of that cheese! Once again the guitar work shines with a great twin guitar harmony before Marcus and Ingo jam. The main riff is another speedfest and rivals “Ride The Sky” for fastest track on the album. Walls of Jerhico closes with “How Many Tears.” This song is probably one of the best on the album. It has a little bit of each element the album contains: fast and speedy riffs, melodic singing, guitar harmonies, Marcus’ great bass playing, Ingo pounding on those drums, a beatiful interlude, and has some lyrics that aren’t cheesy, but are about freedom. While being varied doesn’t automatically mean a song is superior to a generic one, it helps define what makes “How Many Tears” a power metal classic. As an additional bonus track, “Judas” is off another EP. The chorus here is another great one, although that is really the only great thing about this song. It’s good, but nothing amazing and kind of a bad way to end the album. Other than that, it’s still worth listening to.
Walls of Jericho is essential. End of story. Anyone who automatically shuns it just because it’s power metal is just plain ignorant. Yeah it’s got the cheese and sillyness, but it has something that Dragonforce don’t have: balls, and I mean old school in your face balls. A power metal masterpiece.
When reviewing Walls Of Jericho one can retrospectively look back at this marvellous piece of metal in two ways. The first way would be checking out Helloween before the Keeper albums. In other words comparing this early heavy stuff to their breakthrough material. Or secondly, just imagine it’s 1985 and this is a band with a first debut full length.
I’m going to do my best reviewing this album without thinking about the Keeper albums and for instance the briliant live version of How Many Tears on Live In the UK with Kiske on vocals. Ah well. I'll come to that in the end anyway.
Ok, it is 1985 and you hear this album. It’s so obvious the sound is a combination of the first two Metallica albums and the best works from Judas Priest with a hint of Iron Maiden thrown in.
Opener “Ride The Sky” is superb. Double bass assault and thrashing simple riffs. The songs rages on and is catchy as well. Notable is the bassguitar with some nice fills and the skrieking of Kai Hansen of Vocals. He sounds young, has a funny nasal tone in his voice as if he’s having a cold yet he sounds very enjoyable and powerful enough to be the icing on the cake. The harmonies and leads in the middle of the song are the perfect blend between Priest/Maiden and speed metal / proto-thrash. A superb opening.
Another highlight is closing song “How Many Tears” which is comparible to “Ride The Sky” but lengthier and with a long instrumental breakdown in the middle. These two songs are easily the most powerful best songs on the album.
“Guardians” is a pretty solid up tempo speed meal song with some nice melodies and riffs on guitar. Hansen’s vocals however sound less powerful and he has trouble hitting some notes. The chorus however is immensly strong and catchy and makes you forget all the lesser aspects of the song! Once again the bassguitar has some nice fills.
I’ve never been to sure about certain aspects of “Heavy Metal Is the Law”. It is a studio recording with live audience mixed in at certain points. In the middle of the song there is a sing-a-long section (the “Heavy Metal, Hey!!, Heavy Metal, Hey!!” part) which is a bit cheesy. The rest of the song however is pretty damn good. Just as fast as the earlier mentioned Ride The Sky and How Many Tears and with a strong chorus and an even stronger solo plus harmony section.
“Metal Invaders” is the weakest of the fast songs here. The falsetto vocals on the prechorus are a bit weak and the chorus itself not quite as strong as other songs. Pretty nice harmonies in the middle though.
So what about the slower songs then? Well “Phantoms of Death” steals the show here. Even the keyboard on the verses does not feel out of place. A high amount of Iron Maiden is thrown in. Check out the drums on the pre-chorus for instance and tell me that isn’t inspired by Phantom Of The Opera! The second part of the solo section is marvellous. As a whole this is an very good song.
“Gorgar” is a pretty weak song. At too many points the band tries to riffwise mix Metallica’s Creeping Death with Judas Priest but fails to deliver a memorable song. The chorus is fairly weak. The “Wastin' money for fun every night Livin' for today no thoughts for tomorrow” bridge is such a clear case of Judas Priest plagiarism, this will cost them many points for the album. “Reptile” is almost just as bad as Gorgar really. Some second rate Priest imitations and a very poor chorus result in a failing song.
In the end we have two awesome songs, three very good songs, one case of ‘soso’ and two horrible songs. So obviously we can still talk about a successful full length which could have even better.
And now for the other point of view…
Compared to Keeper the drums sound under-produced and extremely flat. The guitars are a bit too sludgy at times and he vocal performance is really lacking at certain points. As said earlier when you listen to the live version of How Many Tears on Live In the UK album with Kiske on vocals one can hear how good this song actually is but how flat and dull the production of Walls Of Jericho in fact is. Kai Hansen sounds better these days singing in Gamma Ray than he did on Walls On Jericho. Kiske’s vocals obviously could have made the awesome songs on this album even divine. Just imagine re-recorded versions of Ride The Sky, How Many Tears and Phantoms Of Death with him on vocals…ouch! Even God would buy that album.
However if you compare the best of this album to later ‘soso’ albums like Master Of The Rings or of course the weird experiments on Chamelon and the disasters called The Legacy and Gambling With the Devil, this album obviously stands firm with ease. So firm no bulldozer nor even MOAB could get it of its place.
So From both points of view an excellent album yet with obvious flaws
Not more than a few months after releasing a groundbreaking debut EP bearing their name, Helloween offered up another uncompromising piece of speed metal madness in “Walls of Jericho”, which expanded upon the arsenal of ideas held in common between founder Kai Hansen and almost as prolific songwriter Michael Weikath. Where the EP contained 5 tracks dominated by speed and occasionally featured a slow interlude of some sort, here we see the band evolve into a more varied beast, offering up some slower songs to complement the obligatory power metal anthems that expand upon the precedents set by Judas Priest, Riot, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden.
The album kicks off with a restatement of the famed Silver Shamrock theme, now set to a synthesized trumpet arrangement followed by what sounds like the collapsing of the great Walls of Jericho, obviously warning of an impending storm. Sure enough, the most ambitious and riff dominated speed metal song of its time “Ride the Sky” follows, featuring one of Kai Hansen’s greatest vocal performances to date. Where on the EP, his voice was quite nasal and a bit off center at times, here his voice is much more focused, though still quite rough and scratchy. “Reptile” and “Guardians” are Weikath offerings that show an expansion of the band’s sound. The former is a slower metal track that reeks of Priest worship, although with a much more active bass and a slightly less overpowering voice. The latter is a blue print for the modern power metal anthem heard by the likes of Stratovarius and Freedom Call, featuring a happy chorus in a major key and plenty of double bass pedal work.
“Phantoms of Death” features an opening riff quite reminiscent of Maiden’s “Two Minutes to Midnight”, both of which probably took their cues from Riot. There is some keyboard usage on here, but it is mainly atmospheric and bolsters the guitars rather than fights them. The early speed metal classic “Metal Invaders” that appeared on the famed Death Metal compilation comes next with speed riffs blazing, although stylistically the song sounds more like what appeared on the EP, it is not at all out of place. “Gorgar” is a rather humorous take on the subject of arcade game addiction, featuring a slow quasi-Maiden inspired intro and a rather appropriate quotation of Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” later in the song. “Heavy Metal (Is the Law)” reeks of Manowar’s approach to glorifying the genre lyrically. It is performed live and features and extended drum solo and some fancy bass work. Michael Weikath gives the album a final point of lyrical contrast with a socially conscious speed anthem in “How Many Tears”, which highlights another brilliant Kai Hansen vocal performance.
Much like the EP that preceded it, this album has its share of flaws in the production department. Although the vocals are a good deal more precise, they are still a bit buried under an overpowering wall of rhythm guitars and drums. Likewise the lead guitars a still too quiet, and on “Phantoms of Death” the keyboards have a hard time remaining audible. Marcus’ bass is more active and consequently is also easier to hear, although it lacks the clear definition that would later be realized on the Keeper albums.
Although many have drawn a lot of attention to this album’s weaknesses, a clear sense of perspective should be applied to this opus. It is an innovative work that broke down the barriers between speed and melody, which separated the sometimes fast NWOBHM acts from the faster Punk Rock acts that put aggression ahead of musicality. Blind Guardian and every other Power Metal act that currently shares the scene with these pioneers owe their existence to this album and the ones that followed it and built upon this more primitive yet forward looking approach to metal. If you liked the early Speed/Power style where aggression was held in common with its Thrash cousin, this album will not let you down. Although I recommend getting the album without all the bonus stuff on it, no matter which version you attain, the 9 songs contained within have an ebb and flow that is quite different from the other stuff surrounding it on the newer release. Keep this in mind as you experience this dated yet timeless piece of power metal history.
This is the remastered version of "walls of jericho", including the amazing "helloween ep" and the single "Judas".
Helloween needs no introduction, they are the power metal legends that influenced every power metal, from the best ones (Rhapsody, Forgotten Tales, Nightwish) to the most generic and boring ones (Hammerfall). In the begining they where hugely influenced by Iron Maiden and it shows a lot on this album. The song "victim of fate", despite being a masterpiece of power metal with it's excellent melodic riffage and awesome chorus, is clearly an attempt at rewriting Iron Maiden's "the phantom of the opera". The same thing can be said about "warrior", it's minor-key high register slinky riff, galloping structure and war topic being very reminiscent of "the trooper". But despite being very derivative in their formative years, Helloween still managed to create something unique by adding neo-classical influences (mainly in the guitar solos) and a never-stopping 16th note riffing assault that would become the power metal cliché that we all love.
Each song is very well written, Kai Hansen being a master songwritter, having a knack for infectious melodies that stick in your head right away. (the bridge of the song "murderer" being a perfect exemple) We can hear that Hammerfall where influenced a lot by the song "cry for freedom", and we even find a typical Rhapsody chorus in the song "guardians", only Helloween did it 12 years before. I must also mention that the guitar team of Hansen/Weikath is the best ever! every single solo is a pure gem of catchy neo-classical melodies. This is even catchier than Randy Rhoads, and the neo-classical element is even more present.
The trademark helloween humor is present on this album, with absurdly funny songs like "Gorgar" (about an evil pinball machine!) and the tongue-in-cheek anthem "heavy metal is the law". The lyrics in general are not as good as they would become on later Hansen era albums but the music is always top-notch and there's not even a single weak song.
In the end this is an excellent album, and is only a notch bellow masterpieces such as the keepers of seven keys album. (mainly because of the messy production and Hansen's mediocre voice) But the songwriting is as strong as it would be on the keepers album. A must!
Holy shit, this is impressive! I agree with anyone who says that this album is best heard on CD with the Helloween EP and Judas as bonus tracks, it all belongs here. Where to start? Well, how about fucking WARRIOR? Totally overlooked speed metal . Vicious vocals and classic riffs are in abundance here. It's easily one of the best songs on this disc.Victim of Fate is another killer fucking song, with one of those Helloween choruses that you'd have a hard time forgetting (assuming you wanted to). I'd like to add that the lyrics on the EP are totally different from later Helloween; songs about drugs, crime, poverty and , uh, war. No fantasy stuff here.
Then, after a pretty good intro, we get RIDE THE SKY. So much has been said about this one, I'll just say that this is mandatory epic speed metal. Think Majesty or One Shot at Glory. This is the original.
Some of the album isn't is solid as the EP, but other highlights include Guardians, with that uber-catchy chorus, Phantoms of Death, and the great anthem Heavy Metal (Is the Law), which would do Manowar proud as far as chest-thumping metal anthems go. Judas is more lethal speed.
One last note. Gorgar is the best metal song about a pinball machine, ever. Buy this, or Gorgar will eat your fucking soul!
Helloween secure their position as #1 speed metal band with this excellent album. Although not as bone-crushing or evil as the Helloween EP, it’s still a must-have for any metal fan. The riffs are just as lethal and Kai’s voice is still spawned from Hell. Kai and Michael do some extraordinary solos that own your petty soul. Walls of Jericho is much catchier than their self-titled EP and also has a more positive and happier tone, showing what the band will transform into. Get ready to jump into another murderous release from the speed metal titans.
An intro, as usual, starts this album off, but this one is actually pretty cool and worth listening. After that is Ride The Sky. Like a juggernaut, that opening riff brutalizes you to near death. It unleashes a death grip on your neck and throws you across the room into the wall. And then Kai’s ear-piercing banshee wail leaves you man-less and crippled. This is one hell of a song. It’s six minutes of pure, unadulterated headbanging. The tons of riffs just shred you up. The brilliant solo section goes on for a long time without a second of boredom. During it, there are many tempo changes and killer riffs. This is a majestic way to start an album.
Reptile is an enormous letdown from the previous track. It is mid-paced and the slowest song on the album (ironically, it’s also the shortest song). The chorus has a nice thrash riff, but the bass is more audible than the guitars. Plus, Weikath begins his tendency of writing dumbass lyrics with this song: “Frustrated businessmen needing a wank can’t find themselves a whore,” and “You need a shit so you head off for the loo. You’re coming to the bog, now what you’re gonna do.” Fortunately for us, this is the only song with stupid lyrics.
Hell yeah, next up is GUARDIANS. This is the best song off the album. From beginning to end, this track owns you and your whole fucking bloodline. This song is a splendid riff orgy. As soon as a riff is blasted through the speakers, another one comes at you. And these aren’t your ordinary riffs. They rip off all your limbs, one by one, and then blow your brains out; they have no mercy whatsoever. Just check out that riff right before the solo, high-class thrash. It even ends with a tormenting thrash riff (Ride The Lightning style). Michael redeems himself by writing some pretty cool lyrics. The chorus is so damn catchy. It’s one of the best metal choruses ever. Even the solos shred indefinitely. This track is completely flawless and is speed metal at its finest.
Phantoms Of Death is a decent thrash/speed metal epic. The keyboard work during the verse gives away what the band will be in the future. It has some good riffs, but isn’t that special. After it is Metal Invaders. This one is extremely melodic, even the opening riff gets you in its trance. After the first listen, you’ll know the basic melody. It’s one of the better tracks off the album.
Gorgar is a kick-ass thrash song. Kai gives us a very evil performance. Although it’s not as fast as the rest of the songs, it’s a shitload better than Reptile. The riffs are exceptionally aggressive. Heavy Metal Is The Law is criminally catchy. Guaranteed, it will have you singing along with it. It starts off with a remarkable drum intro, and includes a short bass solo after the guitar solo. You will be addicted to it for years. It appears live, but it isn’t.
The album ends with How Many Tears, a superior epic track. Fast, furious riffs are scattered all over. The drumming specifically excels here. Blistering riffs are embraced in the chorus, which has an epic feel to it. The lead solo section goes on for about three minutes and includes various blazing harmony solos. As soon as it slows down, it picks its self up and goes intensively fast. To end Helloween’s best album, Kai delivers a horrific scream that forces you into utter immolation.
Walls of Jericho is a severely rapid array of aggressively fast riffs, added with tremendous double-bass. Every song destroys you, but some aren’t as worthy as others. You must get this now, even if you have to rob yourself a copy.
What a fine speed metal release we have here. Raw, fast, furious, yet melodic and catchy. The remastered version includes the mini-LP along with it, that legendary LP and proved to the metal world that Helloween was no average metal band. This is pure insanity and genius!
Starlight - The intro to this one will either freak first time listeners or ease the minds of those who think they are in for easy listening material. Either way, both will be surprised...."AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" the banshee scream of Kai Hansen kicks in followed by an all out metal assualt. This is some fine speed metal right here, raw and untamed.
Murderer - Not so different from 'Starlight', this song begins with aggressive riffage and doesn't let down until the very end. Fast and furious, barely any melody but it is a real rocker. The chorus is hateful and mean, which is quite quite killer. :)
Warrior - Helloween's most underrated song, EVER! The riffage is so godly here, just dynamic to say the least. This is speed metal in its finest form, guaranteed to make you headbang. If such a phenominal like this doesn't force you to bang your head, then I don't know what will. Screaming guitar licks, galloping riffs, a bad ass chorus "So diiiiieeeee now! Die! Warriooorrrr!"....what more can you ask for?
Victim Of Fate - If this song doesn't remind you of Iron Maiden's 'Phantom Of The Opera' then you must be near deaf, because the riffs are almost a rippoff of the song. Don't get me wrong!! I am not in any way critisizing this song, it's one of Helloween's best, but the riffs sound like they were taken straight from POTO and altered a bit into Helloween's own song, which would of course only cause it to sound good as hell.
Cry For Freedom - After 4 previous speed metal assault on the listener's ears, this is quite a change. It starts off with a cool, acoustic intro but then changes into an epic speed metal tune. Almost as fast as the other 4 though not as aggressive, and there is much more melody in Kai Hansen's voice.
Walls Of Jericho - This intro sure beats the hell out of the one for 'Starlight' and though Helloween is known for creating some of the gayest and most irrellevent intros to songs, this one is actually quite good. But brace yourself if you're a first time listener, cause you have no idea what is about to hit you...
Ride The Sky - The opening riff here attacks you like a pack of wolves, speed metal in your fuckin' face!! This is the definetion of speed metal, this is what it's all about. No doubt about it, this here is the greatest speed metal tune ever created. I think that's all I have to say about it.
Reptile - One of the album's main highlights, this song tells the story of sewage monster attacking a town with no way to stop it. How cool is that? It's not as fast nor as heavy as 'Ride The Sky', but it's still good quality speed metal. Another raw and untamed number.
Guardians - Keyboard work is added for this one but the speed is preserved. This is a slight preview of what the band would next release, melodic to a certain extent though just as fast as the typical speed metal song. Kai's vocals aren't as raw here either, he actually sings, though I prefere his aggressive screeches over his melodic singing.
Phantoms Of Death - Another underrated Helloween tune. This is a break from the speed metal tunes, being a little more tamed along with keyboard added also. The sound of the keys in this tune though beat the shit out of the ones used for 'Guardians', and the riffs are absolutly crushing! By far one of their best.
Metal Invaders - Shredding, furious riff attacks!!! That's how this one begins. Both guitars shredding at once, continuing in the speed metal vein. The riffs are actually the only melody here, this song is almost as aggressive and as heavy as 'Ride The Sky'. Well...not really but it comes closest out of any of Helloween's songs. Another fine piece of speed metal to get whiplashed to.
Gorgar - The only mid-paced song on the album, but it's one of the heaviest. Along with the driving beat, the riffage is very distorted and thrashy, reminding me a bit of something from Heathen or Metallica's 'Ride The Lightning', perhapse 'Escape' or 'Creeping Death'. Kai's vocals are fantasicly raw on this one too.
Heavy Metal (Is The Law) - And that it is...err....in the metal community at least. =/ This track appears to be live, though it isn't, it's just to go along with the theme of the song that METAL HEADS RULE!! The drums are without a doubt the highlight of this one, delivering lightning fast double bass above the guitar distortion.
How Many Tears? - Many people seem to think that this is the albums epic closing, but I do not see it as an epic. It's just a long speed metal tune, the longest on the album actually. After the tracks 'Gorgar' and 'Heavy Metal (Is The Law)', this one didn't appeal much to me at first. It's just your typical speed metal with a speed change shortly in the middle of the song, then back to the double bass it is.
Judas - This is the album bonus track, though I don't know why it wasn't put on the album to begin with. This song is fast and amazing, down right mean and aggressive. The chorus kills too..."JUDAS! Ruling with an iron hand! JUDAS! Sitting in the government! JUDAS! I am not your Jesus Christ! JUDAS! You will be the one who's crucifiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeed" and the gallpong part in the middle of the song where everyone is shouting "JUDAS! JUDAS!" is just purely amazing.
You want in your face aggression and speed without dealing with crappy death metal grunts? Then get this, and get whiplashed!! Neck-breaking speed metal at its finest, this will not, at any point let you down. Helloween are the speed metal gods.
I realize there is a real tendency among Speed Metal fans to orgasm whever Kai Hansen so much as scratches an itch, but from an objective viewpoint, how is this one of the best Speed Metal albums ever? I mean, Rob Halford has farted songs better than this album, and while it does have its moments (few and far between), there's just nothing that I can grab hold of and tear apart. And that's a problem.
The production is a garbled mess. Let's get that clear straight off the bat. I can barely hear the guitar solos becuase the backup riffage is so loud and messy that everything else fades into the background. The drums are OK, but somehow I expected more from a Speed Metal drummer. And then there's Kai's vocal work, which is absolute dog shit on this album. The vocals are incredibly irritating and grating on the nerves, and it absolutely does not even come close to anything he did in Gamma Ray. Whether it's because he's unrefined or because he honestly thought those vocals went well with the album, there are many good ideas on here ruined by the god-awful vocals. Finally, the *good* songs on here don't have much to distinguish themselves from one another, so the result is a real mushy nightmare of occasional interesting, if monotonous, clarity.
First of all, let's look at Reptile. This is good Speed Metal if and only if you prefer your speed metal to sound like late-era Sepultura. The garbled disaster of the beginning is legendary. The drums can't seem to find a consistent rhythm to give shape, and the guitars aren't having any more luck with the riffs. Kai's vocals range from annoying (the verses) to fairly decent (the chorus), but even in the chorus the guitars sound like a mush of sound as opposed to a clear headbanging show of force. Ride the Sky and Murderer are the highlights of the album, burt they tend to sound a lot alike in the middle section (although they're still cool enough to keep this album from being a total flop). Undoubtedly, though, the lowest point of the album is the beginning of Starfire . . . what the fuck is that? Is he waking up, or getting high? Whatever it is, it's just annoying.
Uggh. This album is a disaster. Go get Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II and Painkiller. THOSE are classic Speed Metal albums. Not this coaster.
The first full-length album of power metal legends Helloween is in fact not power metal, but it is pure fucking speed metal.
I chose to review this one and the EP in different reviews as they are originally different releases, and the EP is in fact better. While the EP consists of five absolutely fucking insane speed metal masterpieces, some of the songs on here are “just” very good. But most of this album is pretty damn amazing.
You may have heard Kai Hansen on his work with Gamma Ray, where he puts up a very strong, clean performance. But here, his vocals are raw, evil and high pitched. You either love him or hate him – I love him. And the guitar assault he puts up on this album along with Michael Weikath is basically flawless. Tons of insane speed metal riffage, a few midpaced devastating riffs, spectacular soloing and beautiful dual guitar lead section build the spine for one classic fucking speed metal album.
Markus Grosskopf is one of the best bassists I’ve ever heard. He always delivers a very evident performance, and showcases great skill. Drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg (R.I.P.) hammers the shit out of his drum kit.
Together, these four men create a landmark album in the speed metal genre, which has some of the greatest Helloween songs ever.
To name the greatest on here, we have Ride The Sky (completely fucking insane!), Phantoms of Death (amazing atmospheric tune with a very long, incredible solo section), Metal Invaders (fast as fuck but very, very catchy) and Heavy Metal Is The Law (speed metal doesn’t get catchier than this. Uplifting metal lyrics, insane riffwork and a very cool solo section including both guitar, bass, drum and vocal solo sections).
These songs are all masterpieces, which all deserve 9.5/10 at least.
Most of the other songs are pretty excellent too, like How Many Tears (quite epic, but fast as hell), Judas and Guardians (both very solid speed metal numbers).
But there are a few slightly less great songs here, namely like Reptile and Gorgar. They are the slowest paced songs on the album, and come off as quite mediocre, at least in comparison to the greatness of the remaining songs on here.
They're not bad, just not up to par with the rest.
So what we have here is a classic speed metal album, with 9 songs (plus an intro). Four of them are completely fucking mindblowing, three of them are just slightly less excellent, and two of them are pretty average. This is one of the greatest Helloween albums, that’s for sure, and it’s truly essential in every metalhead’s collection.
The CD re-release of this album contains the Helloween EP, and the song Judas - and since that's the only version I've ever had, I will review that, treating it as one 71 minute long album. There really aren't too many stylistic differences between the three, since they all came out in 1985 and 1986, and comprise almost the entirety of the band's Kai-on-vocals era (the remainder is two songs on the Death Metal compilation - "Oernst of Life" and "Metal Invaders", the latter of which was reworked on here, and also "Desire to Rock", which was played live exactly four times.)
First off: weak tracks. None, really. "Cry For Freedom" starts off just a bit boring, and the middle part of "Victim of Fate" (spoken word part) is a bit silly, but other than that, the album is perfect. Oh yeah and that dumbass intro to Starlight, haha. Do I really have to hear some guy snorting up?
Highlights: RIDE THE SKY!!! Best. Song. Ever. This is the definition of speed metal right here - blazing riff, shrieking vocals, and the solo that goes on forever without becoming boring.
The songs range from insanely fucking fast ("Ride the Sky", "Warrior", "Judas") to a more midpaced level ("Reptile", "Gorgar") to some pretty nice epic numbers ("How Many Tears", "Phantoms of Death"). All of them are fast enough to be considered speed metal, however, and a few have some almost thrash moments, like the chorus of "Reptile", or the intro riff to "Phantoms of Death". The choruses are completely memorable - it's one of those albums where after three listens, you will know all the basic melodies. The catchiest is probably "Metal Invaders" (though, good luck with the lyrics, I've listened to the album 100 times and I still gotta read the booklet... something something through the streets, I know the time is near, etc etc) Kai definitely has a German accent, but his vocals are perfect for this sort of music. If anyone has any complaints, go listen to Andrea Bocelli - Hansen may be shrieky, nasal, and a bit annoying, but he nails high notes, and gives 110 per cent effort, 110 per cent of the time.
Oh and the guitar work is fantastic too, as I mentioned - great riffs, and totally memorable solos in the Tipton/Downing vein. This is one of those completely essential albums that one cannot do without. If you like Painkiller, you'll like this.