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Can "Chameleon" be my favourite Helloween album? - 95%

Verd, October 28th, 2011

Can an album so criticized like "Chameleon" be the favourite Helloween album so far for a sane person? Well, maybe I'm not sane at all, but Helloween has been one of my preferred bands since when I was 14 and my opinion hasn't changed at all in all these years. Along with its maybe-even-more criticized predecessor, Helloween's fourth full-length "Pink Bubbles Go Ape", "Chameleon" is a unique gem of creativity and awesomeness - acoustic/soft/catchy awesomeness, I would add. Two things I have to point out even now: I'm not going to talk about the greatness that characterized Helloween's first three albums, and I'm not even going to talk about all the huge story that involved vocalist Michael Kiske's departure from the band some time after the release of "Chameleon", concerning its bad sales and the contrasts Kiske had with the band and, especially, with guitarist Michael Weikath and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, unfortunately deceased two years after the recording of this album. This review is going to talk only about the music. Oh, another clarification: I'm going to exclude the masterpieces included in the expanded edition of "Chameleon", so I will simply tell you to listen to every one of them, especially Cut in the Middle, Get Me Out of Here and Ain't Got Nothing Better. These songs appear as B-sides even in the four singles that this album produced.

Here we have 12 songs which I divide into a group of seven that are "rock" songs, and a group of five that are "ballads, acoustic, or slow" songs. Yeah, as you can see there's no metal at all here...maybe this is the great thing of the whole album. If you want power metal, you have to listen the "Keeper" and, of course, all the great discography of Andi Deris's Helloween. Back to our album, I'm really convinced that another point of greatness is that "Chameleon" is pretty much the only Helloween experiment of a "soft-rock-no-metal-at-all" kind, if we exclude their good "Unarmed - Best of 25th Anniversary" album, of course. And I, as a worshiper of Mr. Kiske's voice, am even more convinced that it has been good both for Helloween and for Kiske himself to kick him out of the band after this masterpiece. It's the only thing they could do, and they did it really well if we listen on the one hand to Kiske's solo masterpieces and on the other hand to the extremely enjoyable Deris's Helloween discography. Sorry for the adoration, but I love Helloween a lot if you haven't understood it yet.

The album opens with First Time, written by guitarist and founder Michael Weikath (side note: on this album, all the songs were written by only one member each, musically and lyrically), a great and catchy rock song that talks about, yeah, the "first time" we all know. The happy mood of the song is, of course, Helloween's trademark, but here we have a pure "(hard) rock" track with no metal at all, even if Weikath's writing style is always unmistakable. Solos by Weikath and the other guitarist, the talented Roland Grapow, are present in this song along with Kiske's unique voice. The second song, When the Sinner, is written by Kiske and comes with a not-really-unmissable video. It's another rock song, a pretty long one to say the truth, and it's one of the songs I love the most. The guitars are great here and you can hear choruses and aerophones, trumpets, and so on appearing in it. I Don't Wanna Cry No More is composed by Grapow and is dedicated to his deceased brother, Rainer. It's an acoustic song that's great to listen both in the musical and in the lyrical aspect. Crazy Cat comes next, another Grapow song with aerophones, funny in the cat-related lyrics and greatly played by Kiske's voice, and always fits in pretty much every situation. Giants is a very solid hard rock song whose strength resides not so much in the lyrics as in the music. It's one of my favourite Helloween songs of all time. Windmill is the main ballad of the album. I have been loving this track since the first time I listened to it. It's dominated by a piano melody, but the acoustic guitars play an important role in this little masterpiece. In the expanded edition of "Chameleon", there's a not-good-at-all Windmill demo track. The original will have to suffice. Revolution Now is a Giants-like song, written by Weikath in a not-too-unusual Kiske style. You're going to love Ingo's drumming here. In the Night is a Kiske song with great instrumental parts that's always acoustic, but faster than the other acoustic pieces on this album. Music is related to Grapow's experience, and even if it can be described as one of the non-awesome songs on the album, it's still very enjoyable, but Kiske's voice plays the primary role in making the song really beautiful. Step Out of Hell is a special song that talks about drummer Schwichtenberg's drug and alcohol related problems that will lead him to suicide two years after the release of "Chameleon". It's not so strong lyrically, but it's an extremely enjoyable hard rock song with a catchy refrain as always. Next we have two Kiske songs that tell us a lot about his solo career: I Believe and Longing. I Believe is somewhat faster, heavier, and catchier than the last one which relies only on Kiske's great voice, but I still prefer Longing because of its lyrical aspect. But yeah, even I Believe is worth listening to: 9 minutes with great guitars and drumming you can't afford to forget.

Songs you need to listen to:


RageW, August 10th, 2009

Helloween is one cool band. I love Helloween, catchy speed/power metal with a good eye for melody, silly lyrics, but great riffs. You can divide them into 2 eras: The Walls of Jericho to Pink Bubbles era, and from Master of the Rings and on. Yes, a division marking their change of singers, whence they started releasing a much more formulaic brand of power metal which they have stuck with since the coming of Andi Deris. You may have noticed something important, though; for between the ending of the first era and the beginning of the second one there appears to be a record scratch! Why would such a thing happen? What piece of music could have been so remarkably bad that it stands on its own in a sea of suckiness in an otherwise (sometimes) immaculate band?

The year was 1993, a year which many regard as a point of cold, cold death to ‘classic’ heavy metal. From here and on, other genres would spawn forward waving the banner of awesome music, but for traditional/thrash/80’s metal, it was pretty much the end of the road. Sure, some albums and bands came later on the decade; but this year, everything was fucked up. I’m not here to list the specific causes for this unfortunate event, though I can assure you that in the middle of the maelstrom, you could have seen Helloween struggling.

Now, many people have it that this band’s previous LP was already a sign of the giant shitstorm to come, but I disagree. Yes, Pink Bubbles has fucking dumb lyrics (Hamsters?), but when was Helloween the pinnacle of lyrical genius? The riffs on that album are there, and it has Michael Kiske delivering like no one, maybe surpassing most of Keeper I in musical and vocal terms. People still trashed it because it didn’t have Kai, who went to release a pair of so-so albums before settling completely with Gamma Ray. Anyways, the songwriting was still there; though the cover was weird.

Along then came Chameleon, and that’s where the historical context ends (but you already knew that all of that shit anyway). It marks a stylistic and aesthetical change in regards of their previous efforts, completely for the wrong. Yes, Helloween struck gold here…and then got busted for it by the feds because it was belonged and was hidden by a group of child molesters who sold said children smack and also raped pitbulls with switchblades for fun. It managed to be different in every single wrong way possible, by throwing standard songwriting ideas away, which they had been using for so long in such an effective way. Also, Kiske sucks in here; no wicked “The Chance” screams, no “Twilight for the Gods” emotion, there’s nothing from him. He was one of the best metal singers in the world, meaning an above average performance is unacceptable; and aside of his newfound “breaking of musical boundaries”, there’s nothing here. Fuck you, traitor one.

The guitar work is poor at best, nonexistent at worse. That’s a huge issue, maybe because metal is aaaall about aggressive guitar riffs—everything else may sound half-assed, but good guitar riffs drive a song forward. “First Time” and “Step out of Hell” kinda try, the former being *almost* good, with a really catchy chorus, amusingly cheesy lyrics, and this simple little main riff at the beginning; its guitar solo is pretty cool as well. The latter sounds like something off a Bon Jovi song; that may be good or bad (actually, bad) but it does have “80’s cheese” written all over it. The glam vibe makes me picture Kiske with lipstick in spandex pants, with his junk clearly visible through them. That grants it points just because it’s hilarious.

Then there’s the rest of the “songs” from this “album” full of “progressive elements” and “artistic merit” and “totally not gay” “ideas”. It sounds as if they just wanted to suck which somehow was a way to show off a new experimental avant-garde view on the music scene which—never mind, it’s all shit. Sometimes it gets around featuring a horn section, which is cute, yet retarded. It’s not used to complement the music, but rather in a cliché’d “Hey, a horn section! I guess that's pretty weird!” way of mixing something exotic (in metal) with a relatively normal element. That’s not creativity, that’s just low, guys. Also, I hate horn sections; they remind me of Mariachis, which wake me at 2 in the morning while giving serenatas to the random girl next door. “When the Sinner” is particularly guilty of random sounding horn sections, and it manages to be 7 minutes long of nothing worthy. “Revolution Now” sounds like something from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, that insipid funk/rock/shitty brand of music, which wouldn’t be as annoying if the awful main riff wasn’t already the whole song. Bonus feature: The same riff for 8 minutes. Guys, you’re soooo like, deep, man, dude am I right?

You know what’s the best (disregard that) part? The ballads. Nearly every damn song manages to be a ballad, or sound like a wimpy ballad, even if they’re not an actual ballad. Also, all of them are like being punched in the gut by a boxing-capable turd, who proceeds to forcibly marry you. Songs like “I Don’t Wanna Cry No More” and “Longing” are the stuff nightmares are made of. I mean, Helloween did write the boring “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”, but these are fucking insulting. When they’re not straight-up ballads, they have a ‘sweet’ part, like “Giants” or the insufferable 9-minute long “I Believe” (I don’t mind religious lyrics, but don’t shove them in my face that way). Oh God this album sucks so much, specially “Windmill”.

In fact, “Windmill” is the worst song in here; the worst Helloween song, and barely falls short of being the worst song ever. Ingo was crazy and all, what’s with jumping in front of trains as a hobby--but he did address to this song as “Shitmill”, and you know what? He was right. It sounds like Disney music from a cheesy movie in which a kid has a friend who lives in a windmill, and they have lots of adventures, and the kid’s friend, named “Benny”, teaches him the true meaning of friendship. Then he dies. This song is put during the credits when all the children are crying.

That’s the kind of stuff you don’t want in your head when listening to an album—any album, not just metal. Albums “recorded” by those robotic disposable teen stars have more balls than half of this album. At this point Helloween was pretty much dead, it would take a singer replacement, because the other one thought he was too fucking special to be singing metal, and an expired drummer later, to put them back on track. I don’t understand what where they trying to prove by releasing this faggotry, but I believe I’m better off without that. This isn’t progressive, this isn’t creative, and it’s too coherent to be avant-garde…No, it’s different in that this band, temporarily, began thinking that heavy metal wasn’t the way to be taken seriously, and that sloppily swapping genres was the way to achieve that credibility. They failed on all of their tasks. Boys and Girls, I present thee Chameleon.

Once a band that sang 'bout bullshit
Everyone could see them fall
They were sure it was their last hit
So they quit with their faggotry and kicked ass again.

Highly varied and interesting experimental stuff. - 85%

Empyreal, August 14th, 2008

Come one, come all, ladies and gentlemen, to the big top, as long-time runners Helloween aim to complete their most daring feat yet!

Ah, here we have one of the most maligned albums in the Metal genre, and for what reason? Did Black Sabbath and Judas Priest lay down their legendary chords in vain, only to have a bunch of thick-headed losers condemn the stretching of a band's figurative creative legs years later? Pressing questions that are on everyone's mind, but that isn't what we're talking about tonight; we're talking about Helloween and their departure from the strict Power Metal sound established on their now-legendary Keeper of the Seven Keys albums. Chameleon was their fifth effort and the last to feature Michael Kiske on vocals - he would later be replaced with the far superior and more creative Andi Deris, but that's another review.

This album is, as previously mentioned, often scorned in Metal circles, seemingly by virtue of "too many slow songs," "one song that is a 1930s big band jam song," and other eccentricities. Indeed, this will not please fans of Metal and Metal only, but really, if you don't care about the genre, Chameleon comes off as a highly intriguing and classy exercise in experimentation, not sounding like anything else before or since. Sure, it's a bit of a mish-mash, but the songwriting is ace - just listen to the stunning "I Believe," which is the best song the band had ever written at this point, or the syrupy, bouncy "When the Sinner" for examples of the tight, original way in which Helloween came out of their shell. As I've stated before, Helloween have always been boundlessly creative, and Chameleon is as strong of an example of this as ever.

Sellouts, you say? Unlistenable, you call this one?

The album is titled Chameleon, so what did you expect? An album full of songs that all adhered to one standard? An album full of Power Metal anthems? Please, go back to the Keeper albums, Helloween gave away their strategy on this album before it was even released, so don't complain about their change in style. Kicking off with the propulsive "First Time," we get the heaviest song here, with riffs stacked on top of one another and a vocal performance that rises like a shooting star, exploding once it hits the catchy, sticky chorus, and then the album pretty much goes into a tangent of three different sectors - songs that sound vaguely like Power Metal, songs that sound like Helloween's takes on various older music styles, and ballads. It all remains exciting though, from the touching "I Don't Wanna Cry No More" to the rocking "Step Out of Hell," the epic ballad "Music," the almost danceable "In the Night," with it's wide, open feel, as if it's being played live in front of an audience, and then the most bizarre twist - the funky swing tune "Crazy Cat," showboating Helloween's often outspoken sense of humor in a decidedly more musical way than usual.

The only real stinker present is the lame, plodding "Revolution Now," which is some sort of homage to 60s rock, and it just isn't a good song, with a weak riff and Kiske moaning the chorus in an agonized and pained manner that just doesn't work for him - stick to crooning, you traitor to metal, you!

At the risk of sounding like one of those pretentious douchebags who will tell you to open your mind when you say you dislike Opeth or Nevermore, well, this isn't a Metal album, and expecting such will only result in disappointment. In fact, that is the primary reason why people seem to dislike this; the fact that it is so spastic and varied and different from the band's previous output. It was perhaps a bit jarring and startling for Metal fans, but hey, Metal is a genre constantly pushing its boundaries, so its fans should be - but really are not - ready and willing to accept an album like this one. Helloween jumped all over the map here, venturing into several new territories alien to Metal fans, aiming to please no-one but those with an imagination and a thirst for good music, and their boldness is commendable, especially in 1993, when everyone was getting into Grunge. Approach Chameleon with nothing but your most threadbare, naked sense of childlike wonder, and you will love it, but be warned, it is quite the feisty beast.

Their worst with Kiske - 33%

morbert, April 21st, 2008

There are so many ways to look at this album. Compare it to the best work with Kiske (the Keeper albums), compare this to the previous album Pink Bubbles, compare it to what Kai Hansen was doing with Gamma Ray or listen to it as if it was an album by an unknown band. To be honest in all cases the album fails to deliver.

When compared to Keeper era Helloween, it just sounds like a different band. Try to compare Pornograffiti to Piece Of mind really. Compared to Pink Bubbles? It’s even slicker and sleazier and fast songs are simply missing this time. Compare it to Gamma Ray at that point in time? Almost just as bad really since Gamma Ray had released Sigh No More which was, midly put, an insult to power metal.

Lately I’ve been comparing this album to what Kiske has been doing on the Supared album. To be honest, his album with Supared was inconsistent but over all so much better and to the point than this. It is just too bad even his vocals couldn’t save “Chameleon”.

Chameleon is an album I’ve had on tape for all these years and recently finally bought on CD just to complete my collection. I’ve known the songs for all these years but just as on tape, when I’m playing the CD I just turn it off after 5 or 6 six songs and pick something else.

The opener “First Time” is quite enjoyable and still reminding of a mixture between Keeper-era and the previous Pink Bubbles album. In fact the second song “When The Sinner” is pretty nice. It really is the production and the horrible saxophone that makes this song sound less good than it actually is. It’s a matter of arrangements and production instead of bad songwriting here.

“Giants” and “Step out of Hell” do have their moments but don’t stand out enough (especially when compared to earlier albums). The previous Pink Bubbles album at least had some stand out songs like “Kids Of The Century” or “Someone’s Crying” but these kinds of songs are simply missing here and could have made the album more diverse and dynamic.

On two thirds of the songs the album just takes a horrible nose dive. Songs become too laid back and none have ‘that excellent chorus’ which grabs the attention. Nowhere on the album one can find those extremely high pitched heroic vocals, nor memorable neo-classical leads and harmonies. Also most songs are simply overlong. It just drags on and on.

Of course the album is infamous for the musical experiments taking place here with other influences but since the average pace becomes so low it actually achieves reaching monotony! This of course is unimaginable from a band that had sounded so diverse on the previous three records.

The argument that three members each wrote 4 songs for this album would have been a cause of it being so experimental, doesn’t work. During the Keeper days it was Hansen, Weikath and Kiske who each wrote songs. This time Grapow is here obviously instead of Hansen. This cannot be an excuse then. Weikath and Kiske had written far better songs on previous records. Three out of four Grapow tracks here are amongst the worst, so the album could have had 9 out of 12 good songs if Weikath and Kiske had delivered. One wonders why Kiske and Grapow hadn’t worked together this time since their co-operation earlier resulted in the classic “Mankind”. Kiske and Grapow both delivered one good track this time and three bad ones. Weikath at least scored 50/50. So all are to blame really.

The album isn’t bad because of experiments but because of dullness! When not thinking about the earlier Keeper-days I’d say: All the albums after this lacked Michael Kiske. This album however lacked the music of later albums. In conclusion: Just get the four songs I mentioned in this review and skip the rest.

Dr. Stein's oddest experiment. - 80%

hells_unicorn, March 2nd, 2008
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, EMI

This is a highly polarizing album for a number of reasons, but the main one is the heavy amount of experimentation going on. I can say affirmatively that there is no song on this album that sounds like anything ever released by this band. Ultimately, this album is not the horror that many traditional power metal fans view it as, but it does cross the line at times and seems to lose it's own identity.

Lyrically, this album is a 100% departure from the subject matter of previous efforts. Michael Kiske has been something of a spiritual man most of his life, and here he has pretty much thrown back any inhibitions and given us, if you'll forgive the expression, "The God's Honest Truth". Likewise, the personal problems being suffered by drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg (ones that would sadly end up killing him) have found their way into the lyrics in the case of "Step out of Hell". Michael Weikath's songs are mostly comical in terms of wording, almost to the point of being absurd at times. Roland's songs are a bit more sentimental and personal, though not as spiritual as Kiske's.

The music is all over the place, as the boys of Helloween have seemingly discovered Jazz music. Such influences can be found in the cases of the Gospel rockish "When the Sinner", the comical big band number "Crazy Cat" (these guys brough back Swing 3 years before Brian Setzer did and nobody knows it), and the down tempo "Music". All of these tracks contain a horn section, which at times clashes with the heavily distorted guitars.

First time, Giants, and Step out of Hell are probably the closest to traditional Helloween on here, although in all these cases there are differing influences occasionally popping up. Longing, Windmill, and I don't want to cry no more are rather interesting acoustic ballads, the middle one being my personal favorite.

Unfortunately there are 2 rather odd tracks on here that I can't really condone, and those are "Revolution Now" and "In the Night. The former sounds like a quasi-Hendrix influenced 60s rock tune with a rather poor voice track. I'm not sure if lyrically this is supposed to be satirizing or glorifying the 60s movement, but in either case, the words are utterly stupid. I for one get annoyed as hell when bands try to whore themselves off to a political ideology, half the time they're too high to know what they are talking about, and the other half of the time they are too stupid to know what they are talking about. The latter track is an absolute bore, the opening riff is comical, and the rest of the song is sleep worthy.

"I Believe" is probably the greatest track on here musically, loaded with a variety of sectional changes. You've got plenty of heavy guitar sounds, some beautiful synthesizer ambiances, and an amazing vocal display. Depending on your own views of religion, the lyrics might not mesh with you too well, but it's pretty easy to tune them out if you need to.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the metal faithful, this album is mostly good, but it is a far cry from the Helloween of the classic era, as well as the one we know today. I can't call it Progressive, or categorize it as anything that is 100% metal, all I can say is that it is different.

Not Underrated, Just Bad - 25%

Crazy_Voodoo_Magic, October 10th, 2007

Here we are, Helloween's most infamous release, and for good reason. When listening to this one really has to wonder what the hell they were smoking to take such a drastic depature from the genre they helped create(c'mon, I doubt Kiske had so much power as to ruin an ENTIRE album, every member of the band here has to take some responsibilty for this shit). There is only one true Helloween song featured here, which is the opener, "First Time". Absolutely rockin tune, it's up there with the Keeper-era songs, speedy and melodic, just how Helloween should sound. Unfortunatley, the album takes a sharp turn for the worse and never looks back, begining with the second track "When The Sinner". Ugh. This isn't metal. Hell, this isn't even rock. This is POP.

Perhaps this album would be more bearable if the songs weren't usually around six minutes in length. I can take three minutes of pop, having an ex-girlfriend who adored Madonna gives you a stomach of steel when it comes to these things, but this is just too much. And when they throw in jazz during "Crazy Cat"...somebody shoot me, not even the (attempt) to return to speed at the conclusion of the song can save it. Chameleon is just brutal assualt after brutal assualt on your ears, listening to it all in one sitting is surely death. Thankfully, there are some breaks in the attack, most notably "Giants" and "Windmill", the former having a relatively(that is, compared to the other songs on the album) cool intro and the latter sounding like something coming out of a Disney movie. But surprisingly, it's a pretty damn good ballad, Disney-esque or not. Catchy chorus to say the least, and pretty uplifting; two things that Helloween's always been good at.

Still, it's not even worth mentioning how each individual members play, because they're all capable of so much more. Don't expect Ingo to tear up the kit like in "Eagle Fly Free", because all he does here is keep the beat. It's a shame this is his last performance with the band, because this is just the opposite of going out on top. There are absolutely no memorable riffs, save for those found in the opening track. Everything here is just so blah and forgetable. I suppose if I had to choose one positive, it's that Micheal's voice is still as amazing as ever. Regardless, that's not worth anything because you could have Bruce or Halford singing to this music and it would still be shit.

This is not underrated by any means. If you're new to Helloween, skip this and go to Master of the Rings and don't look back. I would only reccomend this to somebody who's heard all of Helloween's materal, and even then, they must be expecting the worst. Every great band has poor releases, and this is Helloween's.

Many hate it, but I like it! - 80%

Bahamut7, March 22nd, 2007

I recently bought Chameleon, which is hated by many. I wanted to get this album since I wanted to know if the album was bad or not and since I enjoyed Rabbit Don't Come Easy, which seems to be disliked by quite a lot, I had a feeling I would enjoy Chameleon and I do enjoy listening to the album. I can understand why a lot of people don't like this album at all, but in my opinion, this is a good album.

There are some great songs on this album such as First Time and Giants. First Time is one of the very few songs on this album that is power metal and is the closest to sounding like Helloween's previous works. Giants is another great song. It's heavy and like First Time, it sounds like the previous stuff from the band and a few songs on their later albums sound a little bit like this song (e.g. Still I Don't Know, a bonus track from The Time of the Oath). The keyboard sounds here are interesting, especially at the start of the intro. The solo is great and it's power metal-ish.

There are some power ballads in this song and I find them very interesting, especially Windmill. I Don't Wanna Cry No More is a great ballad. Good acoustic guitars used here. Windmill is another ballad I like and in my opinion, this is the best song on the album along with First Time. The lyrics go well with the song and while it does sounds a bit like a Disney song, but that doesn't really bother me since this was made by Helloween. Also, Michael Kiske sings brilliantly in this song. I think his singing is great throughout the album and is better then how he sung on the Keeper albums (on the Keeper albums, he sounded almost exactly like Bruce Dickinson).

Now onto some of the songs that aren't as great as the ones I mentioned before, but are good. I like songs such as When the Sinner, Music and Step Out of Hell. When the Sinner is a good song from this album with some pop and jazz influences. Music is also a good song. It's slow and has some cool guitar riffs and solos. However, I think it goes on a bit too long. I think the song should've been a bit shorter. Step Out of Hell sounds Queensrÿche-ish to me since I have listened to Empire and some songs from that album sounds like Step Out of Hell). I find the solos and riffs on this song very good.

I'll now talk about the rest of the songs on the album. Crazy Cat, I think is the weakest song on the album and I also think this is one of the worst songs made by Helloween. It contains 50s rock n' roll influences and it very much reminds me of Rock Around the Clock. So overall, not a good Helloween song, but I find it OK. Revolution Now is an alright song, it sounds very 60s-ish. I only have one problem with this song and that's the track length. I think it goes on a bit too long (8 minutes) and would've be better if it was about 2 minutes shorter. In the Night is another alright song, it's a pop-ish song, but I can tolerate some pop songs. There's some good acoustic works and Kiske sings very good here, but that's about it for this song.

I Believe is the longest song on the album (the original album track list that is and not including any bonus tracks from this album), but it being 9 minutes long I think is too long. The song in the middle makes me think that it could've been with being shorter. However, I like Kiske's singing here. And the album closes with Longing. Another ballad with good acoustic guitars and again, great singing by Kiske. There's also an orchestra playing here, which makes the song sound very good.

Since I own the expanded edition of Chameleon and have listened to the bonus tracks, I will talk about them as well. There are some bonus tracks that I like such as I Don't Care You Don't Care, Oriental Journey, Cut in the Middle and the demo version of Windmill. I Don't Care You Don't Care starts off with a solo that's quite good. I get a bit of a laugh from the chorus. Oriental Journey is an instrumental song. It's heavy, it has great guitar works and bass performance by Markus Grosskopf here is very good. I like the chorus for Cut in the Middle and the guitar riffs. Kiske sounds a lot like Dickinson (like he did on the Keeper albums). Although I don't really care about demos, but the demo version for Windmill is pretty good and it uses an orchestra, but I prefer the album version.

There's a funny interview audio track with Michael Weikath entitled Introduction. I won't spoil it. Basically, Weikath tells the interviewer about a song he wrote and claims it to be very good, but the interviewer disagrees. The song after this interview is Get Me Out of Here, which is the song that was played on the interview, but with different lyrics and Kiske singing. I don't really like the lyrics for this song, but other than that, it's not bad.

There's two bonus tracks that I don't like on this album, which is Red Socks and the Smell of Trees (stupid song title), another instrumental song on this album. This song is about 11 minutes long and is the only 10+ minute song Helloween have ever made outside the Keeper albums. Yet another song I think would be better if it was a few minutes shorter. The other bonus track that I don't like is Ain't Got Nothin' Better. It's an alright song, but there's nothing special about it.

Overall, I think this album is good. It's experimental and very musically adventurous and this is indeed very different compared to all the other Helloween albums. It was more rock than metal, but that doesn't bother me since there were still some metal songs and I liked most of the songs on the album.

While some of those well hated albums from bands I like and hated those albums (e.g. Metallica's St. Anger and Megadeth's Risk), Chameleon is the opposite since I like it. :O I guess I'm able to like it since I really like Helloween a lot and they are my favourite metal band. There are Helloween fans that hate this album, but fair enough since they might only want them to make metal albums and nothing else. Fair enough as long as they have listened to the album a good amount of times and have given it a chance before giving it a verdict.

Just because Chameleon is very different to all the other Helloween albums and is hated by a lot doesn't mean anyone should be put off by it. You don't know what the album is like until you listen to it and given it a proper chance. If you didn't like the album on the first listen or two, listen to it a few more times before actually not liking it since it took a bit of time for me to get into it.

Unfairly treated by the metal community! - 92%

Doomrock, March 26th, 2006

People flat out hate this album. Ever since I started listening to Helloween, all I've heard about this album is that it was a mistake and the low point of the band, and an army of power metal fans will tell you to avoid this album like it's the plastic embodiment of the bird flu. This is my chance to disagree.

Most Helloween fans would have been content if they'd just redone the Keeper albums over and over, but the band decided to experiment here. There isn't a whole lot in the manner of traditional speedy power metal tunes, but there are some very diverse and well crafted songs here. I mostly purchased it to complete my Helloween collection, and didn't expect much out of it after all of the things I'd read about this album, but when I listened to it I regarded it as a lost classic. Helloween really spread their wings here, and tried and succeeded at doing something very different from the past.

In my opinion, Chameleon is Michael Kiske's greatest vocal achievement. He never sounded better than he did on this album, and the album got the best production that a Helloween album had gotten to that point in time. It still sounds great after all these years.

There are some tracks on here that aren't very good, like Krazy Kat, and Windmill falls short for me. I think the band made a mistake including that tune on Treasure Chest, as there are some much better songs here that would have better deserved a second look.

There are some songs here that I regard as triumphs of their career, such as the excellent First Time, Giants, and I Don't Wanna Cry No More (what I feel to be the best ballad they've ever done, and not without some excellent acoustic guitar work by Roland Grapow). Michael Kiske also emerged as a talented songwriter, though some of the lyrics on his songs could make Trouble seem like Deicide. That guy really likes God! Even the little pumpkin graphics in the booklet are in prayer. Not really my cup of tea, but the songs are good enough to make this less annoying.

It does sound at times like 3 solo EPs merged into one album, with 4 penned by Michael Weikath, 4 by Roland Grapow and 4 by Michael Kiske. It's not all that cohesive, but that to me tells that they are masters of writing good songs, and showing that their talents reach past the whole swords and knights material that plagues most power metal acts.

This album is definitely not for everyone, but I still don't think that Helloween should have swept this disc under the rug as they have done. There is genius at work here, and if you're looking for something a little different, this album was written for you. If you're looking for Eagle Fly Free II, you're better off not bothering to buy this one, you won't like it. That being said, this album still stands as one of my favorites.

Not a typical Helloween album - 67%

Tharos_sama, January 22nd, 2006

Well, the reason why I am writing a review for this album is that it's claimed to be a real crap, the worst on Helloween's discography, by many people. I must say that it's far from being my favourite one, but it's not as bad as some people say.

The main thing about "Chameleon" is that it is not completely Heavy Metal, actually it has a strong Hard Rock feel to it. Also, it is kind of mainstream. It is the kind of album even my mother can appreciate (and she does), but as long as I can do the same, it's not a bad thing.

This release has no killer song, no Helloween classic will be found here, but it does have a nice groove to it and many nice songs, especially if you like ballads. It even features a track, "Crazy Cat", with a jazz feeling, something completely new to Helloween songs.

The ballads are where this album shines, if you like ballads here you find some nice ones. "I don't wanna cry no more" and "Windmill" are accoustic and very sad tracks, they do have some feeling and are kinda catchy (especially "Windmill" chorus). "In the night" is also accoustic, but much more happy and groovy, it's a nice song. But the great highlight, in my humble opinion, is "Longing", a totally underrated song. It's just one of the most beatifull songs I've ever heard, it has a real strong feeling to it, paired with great deep lyrics.

Apart from the ballads, the songs worth mentioning are "First Time", "When the Sinner" and "Step out of Hell", which are the ones most similar to typical Helloween songs (the ones from the 80's, I mean). The rest can be kind of boring. Tracks like "Revolution Now", "Music", "Giants" and "I Believe" are not worth any attention.

In the end, "Chameleon" is far from being a great album and it's one of the worst from Hellwoeen discography, but it is not as bad as some people claim too. If you like ballads you will find some nice ones here, if you like Hard Rock you might also like this album, but if you are a diehard Heavy Metal fan keep in mind that this album may sound like shit to you.

Highlights: "When the Sinner" and "Longing".

Not really as godawful as most people say it is... - 64%

Lord_Jotun, January 13th, 2005

...but still pretty damn weak, especially considering the potential of the involved musicians. In many ways, this album reminds of a couple of records familiarly known as "The Loads", which similarly marked a complete stylistic u-turn from a band that used to come up with far more intense material, and are just as overlong and inconsistent as this one tends to be. Signs of what was to come were already apparent on a certain Black Album, much like on Helloween's previous full length, "Pink Bubbles Go Ape".
That said, is "Chameleon" really the ultimate pile of swill?

Honestly, I'd say not quite. There is no doubt that this is Helloween at their weakest, and makes absolutely no sense in the context of their discography. The band was facing avery difficult time, which ultimately lead to the disintegration of the line-up not long afterwards, and the writing credits (4 songs by Weikath, 4 by Kiske and 4 by Grapow) reflect the state of interaction between the various member - something similar will be later on witnessed on "The Dark Ride", as the last album with Grapow and Kusch before their parting of ways.
Still, despite the lack of anything that makes Helloween what it is (and I'm really saying ANYTHING here), as well as the overwheliming abundance of pure non-Metal elements, there is still strength to be found in here.
For one, the production is a huge step up frpm the previous album - I don't know what was up with Chris Tsangarides (the man who co-produced "Painkiller", mind you) when he did "Pink Bubbles...", but here everything sounds just about perfect, and powerful. If only the material could match such a killer sound...

As I noted, this album pretty much consists of three different solo artists doing 4 songs each, the only sense of coherency provided by the same line-up performing every song. There is also another red line running through the entire album, though: most of the songs are way too long for their own good, and too slow, too, something which affects not only the ballads, but the "heavier" songs too. "Giants" is probably the best song of this kind on show, with a fairly intriguing atmosphere and a great vocal performance by Kiske. Then there is "Revolution Now", which goes for a similar feeling but loses intensity by the time we reach the middle of the track: I'd never thought I'd say this about a Helloween song, but the instrumental section after the second chorus (which is nothing particularly memorable either - another shock) just plods along for no particular reason. After the brilliant flash of inventive in the form of the "San Francisco" quote in the second bridge, one would expect something up to par.
"Music" suffers a smilar fate, showing some interesting but underdeveloped ideas, while "I Believe", the "epic" song of the album, only fares slightly better in that it is *meant* to be long, but still lacks something to really justify the passing of the 9 minute mark. And then there's "When the Sinner", which is a bad case of songwriting schizophrenia: the verses (where pretty much all of the melody is being carred by Kiske's voice, as there is exactly ONE chord going on) and the solo section seem to try for a somewhat dark, atmosphere, but then the poppiness - and silliness - of the bridge and chorus completely destroy it with godawful backing vocals ("I look here and you look there, I know it's gotta be somewhere"; like, what the hell is this?!) and gratuitious horns that make no sense whatsoever.

Then, there are the "proper" ballads, and here I must agree with the common popular judgement: there are too many of them, even if we pretend this wasn't meant to be a Metal album. The best one has to be the closing track, "Longing", a genuine acoustic guitar and vocals meditation backed up by nice orchestral movements that enhance its intimate atmosphere. Very effective. "I Don't Wanna Cry No More" is also nice, with clever key shifts from verse to chorus, and generally more consistent songwriting on display. And yes, feel free to flame me here, but I can actually stomach "Windmill", if anything because it actually achieves to be what it was meant to be: a light-hearted, singalong-ish and simple song. Too simple maybe, to the point of sounding too naive for its own good, but not entire garbage.
On the other hand, "In the Night" is more upbeat but also more stupid, there's no other way to put it. This could easily be a pop radio hit, it's that uninspired lyrically and musically.

This just leaves the more (relatively) upbeat songs, which easily make up the best that this album has to offer. Album opener "First Time", despite the overtly silly lyrics (well, it's Helloween anyway, but sometimes they kinda push it too far) is a good and catchy 80's style heavy rock tune, as is "Step Out of Hell"... and yes, I like "Crazy Cat" too; here, the horn section makes a lot more sense by fitting with the song's swingy/jazzy concept, and there are also some good catchy riffs and licks to enjoy, with the only real gripe being the unnecessary backing vocals in the chorus.

So yes, this album is weak, and nowhere near the usual Helloween standard, but it has its moments, if you have enough patience and can listen to music that strays from the Metal path. It doesn't really deserve all the flak it gets, yet easily remains the band's most unnecessary release. I'd say don't buy it before carefully checking it out, even (or more so) if you're a die-hard Helloween fan. The disappointment would most likely prevent you from enjoying a single bit of it.

Forget about the 'Keepers' - 70%

aplws, January 3rd, 2005

In order to understand and appreciate this album you have to forget what Helloween did in the past, especially in the 'Keeper of the Seven Keys' albums.

Musically the album departs from power/speed metal and concentrates on progressive hard-rock with metal, blues and pop influences. By changing musical direction, Helloween break some more boundaries but in other fields of music...

Chameleon is a long album and surely there are a few weak or even bad songs. But due to the fact that the music style is progressive nothing really bad can be said (everything depends on musical preferences).

In my opinion the strongest and really 'great' tracks on this album are: 'Giants', 'I Believe', 'Music' and 'Longing'. "Giants" is the only true metal song here, a mid-tempo song with great guitar work and fabulous high-pitched vocals. "Music" is a strong blues-rock ballad with smart lyrics and great guitar solos. "I Believe" excides 9 minutes of playing time, truly emotional, heavy, deep lyrics and a great arrangement. "Longing" was the perfect song to close the album. An acoustic ballad nicely mixed with orchestration were the highlight are the vocals, this is Michael Kiske's best vocal performance ever, some of the most deep and emotional vocals I ever heard!

The band is in great shape, wonderful and emotional solos, great vocals by Michael Kiske (as always), good bass and strong drumming throughout. Concerning the vocals, don't except the very high pitched Kiske trademark (Keeper's era). He has improved greatly as a vocalist and sings in a smoother, more emotional way with a few high notes in the wright places.

Being a metal (mostly heavy & power) fan, I hated this album on the first listen, having in mind their previous masterpieces! (this is the reason why this album didn't sell much, it was aimed at the wrong crowd) But when I took metal out of my mind and listened to this album again, I was definitely amazed by some of the songs!!

Which songs are best for each person varies as some songs are more progressive, some more pop, some more metal and some all of the above.

Don't listen to the rumors, check out this album for your self in order to have an opinion.

Even Michael Kisk can't save this - 50%

Dethrone_Tyranny, September 16th, 2003

Yes, it's that bad. Even the powerful vox of Michael Kisk can't make up for the HORRID musical direction that the band took. Maybe 3 or 4 good songs, but the majority of this album is gay, boring and just down right crapulant!!! These guys must have been some really hard drugs at the time...

First Time - Despite how much this album sucks, this song is just terrific. Exciting, unbelievably catchy and pretty heavy when compared to the other songs on the album. Just straight forward heavy metal. Yes people, this track IS metal, unlike most other crap here. I can easily say that this is one of my favorite Helloween tunes.

When The Sinner - ::sighs::....where do I start??? If you havn't heard the song already and are wondering what it sounds like, just think of any 80s pop group (ala Men At Work, Aha, Devo) and add a saxaphone along with some SLIGHT (notice I said SLIGHT?) guitar work. Thinking that Helloween can't possibly sound that bad? Just hear it for yourself and get a bucket ready if you have a weak stomach.

I Don't Wanna Cry No More - This one is a total snooze fest. Just thinking about it makes me wanna lay down and go to sleep right now (I've been up all night too, so it might be that too). An acoustic ballad, very mellow, and just not interesting enough. In other words, it's BORING! I can't describe it any other way.

Crazy Cat - The only cool thing about this song are the lyrics, I love cats. Cats are so fuckin' cool, but the music and song structure...::dies:: This is Helloween's WORST SONG EVER! Despite it being about a cat, it just fucking sucks, plain and simple. Guys, when we talk about "rock" in general, I don't think we mean rock 'n' roll from the 50s!!! That's all this song is, 50s music with a fucking saxaphone. If it weren't for it being about a cat, my rant for this one would be far, far worse.

Giants - Whoa, this is a change. One of the best songs on the album, heavy riffs and a great vox. It's not as fast as 'First Time', nor as good, but it's one hell of a tune. This song is much heavier though, and could easily fit on 'The Dark Ride' if Derris were singing it, no joke.

Windmill - How can Helloween produce such a "queer ass muslim fag" song??? Sounds like something off of a Disney movie. This one is just gay all around, starts of with a cool, slow piano intro and then fades off into gay land.

Revolution Now - Is this Helloween or the Red Hot Chillie Peppers???? That's what it sounds like. If it weren't for Kisk on vox, I would have thought otherwise. Boring, dull and lame. But it's not as bad as...

In The Night - ...this one! This isn't a ballad by any means, but it's too fucking mellow!! Too laid back, it's barely even a light rock song. The only thing that a song like this is good for is my insomnia.

Music - ...and the dullness rages on!

Step Out Of Hell - Finally some excitment!! This tune is close to what old Helloween sounded like, a bit like something off of PBGA. Great chorus, great riff work and Kisk sounds alive this time, not stoned. A very good track indeed.

I believe - This song is actually quite decent. The only bad part about it is that it's 9 fucking minutes long. It's slow, mellow but there is a sense of power in it, great vocal work. Just too damn long. Sometimes I actually try to listen to this one instead of skipping it, but I become bored easily and have to skip to the next tune.

Longing - After 9 minutes of mellow lameness, we have an all acoustic ballad to end off the album. The cool thing here is that this song is purely amazing! I love the structure of it and the vocal harmonies. No matter how much torture you went through trying to listen to the album in its entirety, this is a great way to end of the album. It's slow but catchy, and not all that mellow. Despite it being an acoustic song, it's really not mellow, due to the background keyboards and Kisk's vocal performance.

Most of the 50% I gave to this album goes to those 4 songs that I gave positive reviews of, the rest can just be left alone and forgotten.