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Power Metal Bible: The New Testament - 98%

Caleb9000, November 25th, 2015

During the late 80s, Helloween was getting pretty popular in Europe. Their new sound established with their 1987 sophomore effort, "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I" had taken the continent by storm. The following year, they returned to the studio to record this album. We all know that musicians grow over the years, so you can hear the band growing in that was as well. The result was an even more focused album with increased complexity and charisma. By many, this is considered to be the best album that Helloween has ever made. I will have to agree with that. I say that it is their catchiest and most proficiently executed album to date.

The intro of the album dives into "Eagle Fly Free", which is a fast and over-the-top, yet epic and melodic track that is not too bad of a representation of the album. Other fast tracks can be a little more aggressive, though, such as the humorous "Rise and Fall", but they are still melodic. Like their previous release, the mid-paced songs are the ones that are more abrasive. But even they are well-structured. Some of those include "You Always Walk Alone" and "Dr Stein". One song that I must mention is "I Want Out" because it is definitely the most technical mid-paced song here. The last song, "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" ties everything from this album and the last one together in 13 minutes, with fast and melodic sections, mid-paced and abrasive sections and slow, gloomy sections.

Most of the guitar work was written by Michael Weikath, unlike the last album, where is was mostly written by Kai Hansen. Michael has a more epic and technical writing style than Kai Hansen. This makes the album not quite as raw as the last one, but hey, that doesn't count against it. Michael shows some more classic rock and melody-influenced playing that makes the music more diverse and big. His solos are a bit more majestic and are put together a lot more professionally.

The bass shines more than the previous release. Rather than just doing a good job of keeping the music together, Markus gets to do more solos and hooks, which sound pretty good. He gets virtuoso solos (great musicianship is shown quite a bit on "Eagle Fly Free") and smooth, yet energetic riffs that can draw in anyone who plays the instrument. It's not quite as prominent and well-executed as it was on Walls Of Jericho, but it's closer to it than the previous release.

Now let's discuss the drums. Ingo Schwichtenberg is at his best on this album. He gets very impressive solos and sounds very energetic. His drumming is technical, but it still has some of that rawness that was there in the early to mid-80s. When you listen to him play, you can imagine the kind of drummer that starts making facial expressions at live shows that let you know that he's very "into it". I would say that this was the peak of his greatness in the studio.

As for the vocals, if you thought that Michael Kiske showed talent on the last album, you'll be blown away by him on this one. He shows an increased range, a greater ability to shift pitches and a richer tone. He puts more power into the notes and shows us time and time again how long he can hold a note. He's one of those vocalists who you can listen to and think "Damn, I wish I could do that". Sure, he sings high most of the time, but it doesn't get annoying. In fact, it fits the music perfectly.

This album is geared towards those who enjoy technicality, good musicianship, energy, and those who like music that makes them want to burst through a wall (out of joy). Four out of the five members are at their best and the rest of the world was starting to notice the talent they had. Thanks to this album, the band got some well-deserved fame. They were already popular in Europe, but that had been taken to an even higher level. They are probably somewhere around third place in most popular rock acts to come out of Europe (to Europe and The Scorpions) and this album definitely is the reason why they achieved that goal.