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It’s necessary to lighten things up a bit, particularly when you deal in the largely bleak and sometimes fun world of metal music. Often comic relief is sought in the world of power metal, particularly in the German succession of Helloween oriented bands, which has often included Edguy, a band that has since become funny while trying to be serious and also quite awkward musically. In the wake of this, the debut of Italian candy hunters Trick Or Treat has picked up the torch and essentially ran it to the finish line, going from occasional tongue-in-cheek jokes to a full length French smooch session on both sides of the face. But for all of the shameless good times with chocolate covered deadly weapons, this is a band that has proven well adept at keeping from falling into the musical track of “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” while playing up the comedy side with slightly less tact.
“Evil Needs Candy Too” is a celebration of melodic indulgence and reminiscence of all things 80s at a much faster tempo, including the famous imagery of 80s horror icons such as Freddy, Jason, Stripe and Pennywise on the album cover preparing to consume some sugary goodies, with the evil girl from “The Ring” along as a token present day character to remind us what year it is. It has all the charm of the solid album that Helloween never got around to releasing with Michael Kiske after the “Keepers” series, featuring a vocalist in Alessandro Conti who sounds remarkably similar to said former Helloween vocalist, save a bit thinner and lighter in timbre. The loudness factor is a bit more indicative of present day practices, though the guitar sound has a similar crunch and drive to the stereotypical 80s distorted character, and the general mood is bouncy and fun-loving to boot.
There’s no shortage of solid original material to be heard on here. The humorous intro dialogue between what is assumedly a family of monster movie characters on par with The Munsters preparing for dinner, and the upbeat and up tempo title song, are testaments to how one can be entertaining without throwing in too many fancy tricks beyond traditional speed metal riffing with some slight pop/punk tendencies and the traditional guitar soloing style heard since the early NWOBHM. In similar fashion, the pop infused rocker “Like Donald Duck” and the charmingly unserious revamp of the Cyndi Lauper classic “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” with an equally punk-like riff character meshed with high-flying vocal gymnastics can’t help but put a smile on the face in spite of his black heart. The band also shows some signs of technical prowess and depth on “Joyful In Sadness” and “Perfect Life”, which plays up some of the latent Iron Maiden influences that were present in Helloween’s pre-Kiske era, and are a bit more serious in character.
There’s no shortage of goodies to rot your auditory teeth out of your mouth with, regardless to whether or not it’s Halloween. In fact, Trick Or Treat has stumbled upon the equivalent of celebrating a un-birthday every other day that isn’t the festive precursor to All Saints Day. If the opportunity presents itself, it is highly recommended to pick up the limited edition with the cover of “The Never Ending Story”, which is as fast and exciting as the Dragonland version, but a bit more intricate and includes some material from the original film score that fits the 80s pop tune perfectly. It’s time to break out the fake Freddy gloves, ski masks and clown makeup, and have a very happy un-Halloween.
Aye, evil DOES need candy too and, once in a while, all of us overly-serious and grim metalheads could use a good smile and, thankfully, Trick Or Treat seems to be subscribe to the same philosophy, crafting fantastic power metal that'll make you grin, laugh and even headbang a bit too (if not a lot). It is no surprise that Italy's Trick Or Treat started off as a Helloween tribute band, for had I not known Mr. Alessandro Conti was in fact Mr. Alessandro Conti rather than Mr. Michael Kiske I could have been convinced this was Mr. Michael Kiske's new band (eh, that sentence was a bit of a mouth-full, through hopefully it gets the point well enough anyway); I do not, for the record, mean the aforementioned statement as a negative one but, on the contrary, quite a positive one - Kiske-esque vocals in a power metal band ARE a good thing, I say!
Kicking off with It's Snack Time (come on, you know you already want to crack open the Sixlets), which is a rather short and humorous intro, the band quickly kicks into gear with the mighty title-cut which is, undoubtedly, a flawless speedy, powerful number in-line with the likes of I'm Alive or Eagle Fly Free from our beloved, Hansen-era Helloween. The melodies are extremely powerful throughout the song, the drumming is as speedy as could be and the vocals are, as you can probably guess, totally incredible; a song like this reminds me WHY I fell in love with power metal in the first place. Time For Us All and Like Donald Duck keep things going quite well when, out of nowhere (or maybe not), the Italians hit us with a cover of Cyndi Lauper's late 80's hit Girls Just Want To Have Fun which is, oddly enough, pretty darn enjoyable in context with what the band is all about so, on this end, there's no complaints. The remainder of the album features a number of awesome songs, including the mid-paced Who Will Save The Hero, the speedier Joyful In Sadness and Perfect Life as well as the album's closing epic, Back To Life, which is a solid piece of nine-minute metal. Oh, and the cover of Limahl's The Neverending Story is quite appropriate too, though not quite as magical as Dragonland's majestic rendition of the song.
Production-wise, Evil Needs Candy sounds fantastic, being concise and clear throughout; the instruments are balanced and the guitar-tone is quite excellent, in both the rhythm and lead department. You've got to dig the cover art too - so great!
From what I've observed of other power metal enthusiasts, with myself being included, we're not looking for originality over passion and there is no doubt that Trick Or Treat is passionate about making incredible power metal that is, yes, pretty much like old Helloween. If you are, like myself, a bit (or extremely) disappointed with later Helloween, it's time to take a trip to Italy and experience the album that, in some ways, should have been after Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Pt. 2 (and really, it's so appropriate too, as it has the humor of Pink Bubbles Go Ape without all of the lack-luster songs) as it will, undoubtedly, satisfy your hunger. In conclusion, Trick Or Treat deliver awesome and sincere power metal that isn't afraid to have a bit of fun and a few kicks here and there so, aye, get it, bust-out the Wonka candy and ENJOY!