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Helloween - 7 Sinners - 80%

MindOverMetal, December 22nd, 2010

2010 is a great year for traditional German heavy metal, what with Grave Digger still consistent and Accept revitalized. To mark their 25th aniversary, Helloween released the Unarmed album, which featured mostly mellower versions of their classic material, and was largely my introduction to the band. Somewhat underimpressed, when I heard that 7 Sinners—their thirteenth album (not including EPs and covers)—was going to be their heaviest to date, I naturally scoffed.

When I asked Mikael Weikath about the band over the years, he mentioned that every release has been a product of its respective musical climate. Though reverence there may be, audiences nowadays expect both size and speed from their power metal, regardless of legacy. Good thing Helloween is up to the task, as their arena-ready anthematic heaviness sweeps the listener away. They even get Saxon frontman Bill Byford returning to narrate “Who is Mr. Madman?” and wisely sought a live flute solo by Eberhard Hahn on “Raise the Noise” instead of relying on Matthias Ulmer’s keyboards.

Not that there’s anything wrong with them. Ulmer adds airy dimension to the beefy riffs, contributing to the epic nature of the songs. Also interesting is the fact that each member is responsible for the music, lyrics, and composition of the songs they wrote. The man behind half the album is vocalist Andy Deris, who still displays quite an impressive range on tracks like “Are You Metal?” and shows sinister twists on the vicious “You Stupid Mankind”. Don’t forget to keep your ears open for drummer Dani Löble all along the way, as he turns out his finest recorded performance to date.

The bottom line is that Helloween focused entirely on their metallic strengths and almost none of their quirky humor to create their most mighty statement since Walls of Jericho. Stripped of irony, delivered in earnest, and still damned fun, 7 Sinners sets a new standard for this classic band.

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Originally written for MindOverMetal.org