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No sin here. - 80%

Empyreal, November 12th, 2010

So after their…very bizarre off-track venture in the weird-ass acoustic jingles of Unarmed, Helloween decide they have to show their fans that they are still a metal band, and still can rock with the best of them. I think this is a clear sign that they should NOT have created Unarmed in the first place, but hey, what do I know, I’m not a member of a famous power metal band. Anyway, this is 7 Sinners.

It’s a Helloween album, for sure, with all the usual trappings of them – the bouncy riffs, the saccharine melodies and the off-the-wall energy, topped with Andi Deris’ usual charismatic vocals. This album is definitely more riffy and traditional than the completely idiosyncratic Gambling with the Devil, and it has lost some of that album’s unique charm, but it’s still a Helloween album, don’t get me wrong. The only difference is that not all of these songs really live up to the quality standard I expect from a Helloween album.

The band stated this was supposed to be a ‘heavier’ and ‘more metal’ album than anything else they had recorded lately, and I guess I can see that. A lot of these songs are built around more stodgy, brick-like tempos, preferring to cram in more riffs than ride out a melody line like they would have before. “Raise the Noise” is the clear standout and by far the best on here, with its big sing along chorus, exciting riffs and electric verses. Look out for the flute solo too! “World of Fantasy” and “Who is Mr. Madman?” are also first-rate tunes with awesome choruses and sticky melodies to spare.

The rest of the songs really only top at ‘slightly above average,’ with the rocking “You Stupid Mankind” and the power metal glory of “If a Mountain Could Talk” coming closest to reaching that hallowed Helloween greatness. Songs like “My Sacrifice” and “Are You Metal?” are enjoyable but just lack a certain oomph to make them true greats. “Where the Sinners Go” just plods along into nowhere, and “Long Live the King” and “Smile of the Sun” are actively weak, without any of the usual Helloween bright spots. “Far in the Future” is good, too, but I always think it doesn’t have a strong enough climax for a Helloween epic.

So that’s 7 Sinners, and it’s got three great songs, a bunch of good ones and three that just don’t work. About on par for Helloween, sure, but I can’t help but expect better of them after their previous two non-Unarmed albums were so damn great and ambitious. But they can’t shoot for the stars every time – sometimes just having a good time playing some solid power metal is the way to go. Likely this won’t be remembered as one of their best albums but it won’t bore you. So go check it out.

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