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Somewhat Overrated - 80%

Sekrys, July 11th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2006, 2CD, Sanctuary Records (Remastered)

Whenever I look at lists for the best power metal albums, or even the best Helloween albums, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II always seems so sneak up to the tops of such lists. I've seen many say that this is the best power metal record of all time, surpassing all others. The reality is, while Part II is still a pretty great, good record, it is nowhere near the top caliber for its brand of metal. It has a few glaring issues which make it much less than perfect.

First, allow me to detail the first positive of this album: The individual performances on this record are spectacular; Everyone is playing to the best of their ability. From the technicality of all of the solos to just the rhythms of the songs themselves, nothing is done sloppily or incorrectly; It all sounds nice, for the most part. Grosskopf even does a nice bass solo on "Eagle Fly Free", which shows off his skill; I still think he's rather underrated among metal bassists. Weikath shows off his songwriting talents, which is great on this album, though somewhat inconsistent on future ones. The second main positive of Part II is that the majority of the songs are pretty great. Of course there's "Eagle Fly Free" and "Dr. Stein", but "Rise and Fall" and "March of Time" are also just as enjoyable to listen to. The epic title track is also quite the adventure, surpassing "Halloween" from Part I. These are the main reasons why I do believe this album is pretty good.

However, while its positives definitely outweigh its negatives, Part II just has issues, really. The most annoying thing about this album is its production. It's weak, thin, the guitars are barely audible most of the time, and just sounds really terrible. The two remixed bonus tracks are certainly much better, but those are bonus tracks, of course. I've heard worse production jobs, but this is Helloween's worst, in my opinion. My second problem with this record are the songs that aren't so great. "I Want Out" is just SO overrated, I can't believe it. At this point, I can't tell if I don't like it musically, or if I'm just tired of it being "the best Helloween song". Ugh. I'm also going to point out "We Got The Right" as being utterly forgettable, and "You Always Walk Alone", though it is better than the former 2 songs, fails to be memorable for the most part. Additionally, this is their only album with Kiske where his voice kind of annoys me. The constant high notes just kind of get old after a while.

Of the bonus tracks added, "Savage" is pretty great. The other two original songs don't fare as well. Again, the two remixed tracks make the originals much more of an enjoyable listening experience. Even still, I do like it when bands present albums with their original productions so we, the consumers, get to see what they were like at release, mostly unaltered. I can respect Helloween for not just redoing the album's mixing and production, as I know they were unhappy with how it was (it's detailed why in the booklet in an interview with Weikath).

Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II is still a very enjoyable record for me. Most of the songs are pretty great and epic, and it's good fun. However, anyone saying it's Helloween's greatest record or the best power metal album are completely wrong: Many of their albums with Deris are better than this, and Kiske's other 3 albums with the band are much better, as is Walls of Jericho.