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Power Metal - 80%

Seihou, June 9th, 2008

I almost didn't get into power metal. Because people were screaming that bands like Blind Guardian were the absolute best the power metal scene had to offer, I listened to "Somewhere Far Beyond". I stayed away from power metal for a long time after that, thinking that all of it must sound like Blind Guardian (whom I still dislike). However, I received "Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II" for my birthday from a friend whom I told I liked thrash metal which he interpreted as any metal from the 80s. So I took, at the time, the damnable thing and played it, and played it, and played it. It took awhile, but I got back into power metal because of this album.

The album is no masterpiece, however; this album is peppered with excellence and shit like I have found most Helloween albums to be like. It starts out with the intro Invitation which sets the power metal mood for this album. Then comes the gem, Eagle Fly Free, the best song on the album without a doubt. Kiske puts out a great vocal performance, Ingo's drumming is fast and spot-on as usual, and Kai's guitarwork is superb. You Always Walk Alone is a good song, but not nearly as fast or powerful as the song before it. Rise and Fall is where the humor begins; it lets the listener take a humorous look at a multitude of things like Romeo and Juliet and politicians.

Most of the songs continue in the vein of cool with speed/power metal fusion I Want Out or just songs with humorous tones to them like Dr. Stein. The songs We Got the Right and March of Time, however are mediocre at best but the title track is the worst song on the album. Keeper plods on for 13 minutes which is maybe 10 minutes too long. The song has its moments where some killer riffs are riffed or Kiske pulls off an amazing vocal section. However, it's almost like sitting through minutes of the same Pantera riff just to hear Dimebag bust out one of his famous solos and then listening to more minutes of mindless groove metal riffs. It's just not worth listening to after the first time.

Keeper Part II is probably the best Kiske-era Helloween album, but it's not the masterpiece that fans claim it to be. Sure, there's gems scattered throughout the album, but there's the lame tracks and the really shitty title track. If you like power metal and don't have this album yet, get it and you'll be a happy camper. If you're just getting into power metal from the harder stuff like thrash metal (as I did), try Walls of Jericho first before you move onto the albums that helped define power metal.