Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2017
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Unexceptional and unconnected - 71%

gasmask_colostomy, May 18th, 2017

Sequels: they either remind you why you liked the original or they suck. Legacy editions: they sure as shit better finish the story in a perfect way or you're going to ask for your money back. Unless you're Helloween, perhaps. In the first place, Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy (hereafter just The Legacy) already had two previous instalments in the shape of the 1987 and 1988 albums that were ever so loosely based around a song that Michael Weikath wrote and in no way formed part of a "story", so there was really no way in which to link the newest album to the older ones. Cynics are quite within their right to ask questions that include the word 'money', since there is little to explain the renewal of an idea nearly 20 years later with less than half the original band intact. The questions don't stop coming: the next one is about double albums i.e. do we actually want them? In Helloween's case, the format seems to be intentional in mirroring the structure of those original Keepers albums, since the number of full songs, as well as the inclusion of an epic on each disc, replicates the standard previously set, barring the placement of said epics at the beginning, not ending, of each disc. The care taken to jog fans' memories seems to imply that The Legacy was more of an anniversary celebration (which anniversary, I don't know) than a serious album, though that would be without listening to any of the music, which defeats the purpose of any band's release.

I've heard many fans fight Helloween's corner by saying that the style of the songs are largely (or exactly, depending on how much credit you give those fans) the same as they were on Keepers, balancing the upbeat power/speed metal numbers with steadier rockers, some humour, and a dash of experimentation. That is practically indisputable, yet Helloween in 2005 were a different beast since they adapted to the modern climate and introduced meatier, groovier guitars, thuggish bass, and Andi Deris's noticeably gruffer vocals into the mix. Musically, this album has no more in common with Keepers 1 and 2 than Better than Raw or The Time of the Oath. It seems strange that those defenders of this album's raison d'etre see no conflict between making those statements about musical closeness and picking out certain tracks as "dark" and "sadistic" beyond anything Helloween have done before. There was certainly precedent for the grim tread of 'Occasion Avenue' and the serious themes of 'Silent Rain' in the band's other '00s efforts, though finding a way to shoehorn those elements into the Keepers concept just doesn't work.

However, when one stops considering the album on these grounds, both of those songs work very well, making up the heavier portion of the release in the gloomy paradigm of 'Don't Spit on My Mind' and energetic power/speed territory respectively. The blunt tone of the guitars adds plenty of power to the slower songs particularly, while the growl of Markus Grosskopf's bass is a key element in forming the sinister undercurrent that crops up whenever the melodies and double bass drop out, leaving parts of the closer 'My Life for One More Day' bathing in light and shade as the band switch up their approach. This is in contrast to the hookier sounds of 'Pleasure Drone', 'Come Alive', and the unembarrassed pop of 'Mrs God', which sees the guitarists dicking around with their tone to generally cool results.

Personally, I have to be in the mood for this album or I end up frustrated, not only because Helloween stick to one style about as effectively as Lemmy stuck to one single woman but also because 80 minutes of music is bound to be patchy and proves to be so. Neither of the epics really needed to be as long as they are, wasting time with so many choruses during 'The King for a 1000 Years' and offering the radio tuning bullshit on 'Occasion Avenue', though there are other issues too. The first disc curls my toenails slightly by overdoing just about everything on the first three songs (nine minutes on average) and then apologizing by offering the two catchiest songs as concession, while the second disc just runs out of steam after the strong 'Do You Know What You're Fighting For?' and sounds like filler until the closer. Maybe someone's going to tell me that I should be listening to this as two separate albums, but frankly they can fuck off because it's only 13 songs and would have fitted on one disc if the band had really wanted it to. What really bugs me though is that The Legacy doesn't have any complete and total winners, which is a crying shame with so much material. Looking back through Helloween's discography, every album has at least something to celebrate and, while there are good songs here, there's nothing that I feel the need to play on repeat, nor do I reach for the album very often.

That's not to say that The Legacy is a waste of time, however. None of the songs are actually bad, just slightly underwhelming and lacking in outstanding features, making the experience more like listening to a compilation than a real studio album. I tip my hat towards 'Do You Know What You're Fighting For?' and 'Pleasure Drone' for being most quickly satisfying, while 'Occasion Avenue' and 'The Invisible Man' have the pick of creative and diverting features from the more detailed songs. If you like Helloween, there's not much doubt that you're going to like this and it's definitely catchy, but newcomers will probably feel puzzled, while Keepers devotees should certainly scratch the title off their CD case. We can only pray that there won't be another instalment.