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Yeah, I'd Say This Is Pretty Damn Metal - 90%

Twisted_Psychology, November 23rd, 2011

Originally published at

Helloween may largely be known for having popularized power metal and for their often happy aesthetics, but there are plenty of darker spots in their extensive discography.

From the bitterly polished touches of 2000's The Dark Ride to Gambling With the Devil's all-out aggression in 2007, these efforts provide a great deal of praise and controversy that isn't typically seen during the band's more upbeat moments.

Coming off the rather strange Unarmed compilation that came out last year, 7 Sinners provides another slab of furious power metal that helps secure the band's various talents.

Despite the Unarmed compilation's distinctly non-metal approach, 7 Sinners picks up right where Gambling With the Devil left off and is truly metal in just about every sense of the word.

As a whole, this album may actually be heavier than the one before it as there aren't any tracks like Can Do It and I.M.E. attempting to overly lighten things up. Instead, the "novelty" songs on here such as Are You Metal? are as pummeling as everything else!

Of course, that is not to say that there aren't any lovably goofy moments on here. Who Is Mr. Madman? sets itself up as a sequel to the happy go lucky Perfect Gentleman and Raise the Noise features an odd Jethro Tulll-esque flute solo on an otherwise standard power metal anthem.

The album is also made interesting by the prominent keyboards that appear throughout various songs. While they do make some cool contributions to the atmosphere, they fortunately never get in the way of the driving guitar riffs and Andi Deris' signature vocal stylings.

As expected by just about anyone who listens to Helloween, the album's songs mostly consist of fast-paced rockers that thrive on a great balance of heaviness and catchiness.

But even then, these songs all manage to be unique in spite of a shared stylistic template. While songs like World of Fantasy and Raise the Noise are more driven by uplifting vocal-oriented hooks, other tracks such as Long Live the King are much heavier and match frantic guitars and intense drumming with particularly manic vocals.

Of course, speed isn't all that this album has to offer as the remaining tracks show off a decent amount of variety. Smile of the Sun is particularly noteworthy as it manages to bring in some interestingly mixed emotions despite being the token ballad.

A few other tracks worth mentioning include the mid-tempo Where the Sinners Go (one of the band's rare openers that isn't some kind of minute-long introduction), the particularly heavy (and awkwardly titled) You Stupid Mankind, and closing combo of the minute long Not Yet Today and particularly complex Far In The Future.

Despite some of the goofy song titles (You Stupid Mankind. Really, guys?), Helloween's fifteenth studio album is another fantastic release that proves the band's continuing relevancy and should go over well with just about everyone who loved GWtD.

Given how this is the band's second "dark" album in a row, one can only wonder if they've finally gotten comfortable with the sound after all the tension that went into The Dark Ride a decade ago. Whatever the case, here's hoping that the next album is just as awesome!

Current Highlights:
Where the Sinners Go, Are You Metal?, World of Fantasy, Long Live the King, and If A Mountain Could Talk