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So... apparently this is a classic... - 50%

Torwilligous, October 13th, 2006

Here, I'll admit freely: I certainly was not into metal when this album came out; in fact, I was barely even talking. Alas, I am therefore not even remotely qualified to talk about the impact this had on metal, or the fact that Helloween created a genre which has basically remained unchanged since 'Keepers... Part 1'. All I can do is to talk about the basic musical fabric of this legendary album, and to be perfectly honest it does not impress me.

The major problem with this release can be whittled down to one element: Michael Weikath. This collection of songs gives us all the evidence we need to conclude that this man is indeed a relentless buffoon, from his utterly unfunny attempts at humour (calling it 'satire' would be giving him unneccesary intimations of grandeur) to his cringe-worthy 'let's all be happy happy happy!' songwriting. Perhaps this is a little unfair; after all, 'Eagle Fly Free' is an unoffensive stab at a glorious power metal tune (even if it is utterly unremarkable) and 'Dr Stein' is quite fun, with a rather tasty organ countermelody at the end being the highlight.

But then... but then... we have a song like the execrable 'Rise and Fall'. Everything about this is just piss-poor. It's trying to be funny, but the lyrics are utterly fucking abysmal, and it's so happy-clappy ridiculous - living almost entirely as it does in the major modes - that it sounds just embarrassing. Weikath isn't entirely content with this affront to metal either; for then we get the interminable 'Keeper of the Seven Keys'. Frankly, it is just fundamentally pointless, a weak attempt at remaking the undoubtedly superb 'Halloween' from 'Part 1'. It just goes on and on and on, apparently convinced that having lots of different (boring) parts stuck together is a sign of musical genius. WRONG!

But let's ignore Weikath for a moment. What about the rest of the album? Well... I must conclude that it is simply unimpressive. 'March of Time', for example, could be the archetype for power metal, and thus has been relegated to 'utterly predictable'; every cack-handed power-metal wannabe has been ripping this tune off for nigh-on twenty years, and that whole sound is now stale as could be. Unfortunate, but true. The other songs are also unnoffensive, but they just seem bland; the vocal melodies don't grab me, the riffs aren't very exciting, and it all just smacks of pointlessness - not on the side of the band, who after all were genuine innovators in the eighties, but on the side of the modern observer for not listening to Angra instead. Add to this a dated production, with underpowered bass, overloud synthetic-sounding drums, a raspily thin, trebly guitar tone and an annoying singer (is it just me who thinks that Kiske sounds incredibly weak and weedy here?) and we end up with a big pile of... nothing much.

To wrap up, this album may have at one time been innovative and popular (despite dear Michael trying his best to mess everything up) but nowadays is basically pointless. So many bands in the meantime have just aped Hansen's composition style - as well as taking it to new levels, Kai included - that this is really now showing its age. So what exactly is the problem?

To me, it is that power metal has by definition a very fixed style, and in general it has not evolved. Other genres of metal have slowly changed, leaving the innovators sounding unique and isolated - thrash did, black did, death did, and traditional heavy metal really encompasses a lot of varying styles and techniques - but whilst power metalhas progressed in finesse and intricacy, it has not fundamentally altered (aside from notable exceptions such as Blind Guardian - and even this is arguable).

This makes 'Keeper... Part 2' an ancient flint tool; it worked back in the day, was a great new thing that helped move mankind into new areas, and indeed was amazing when it first appeared - but nowadays has no property which has not been superseded and improved upon. The only way this work could still have relevance is with truly stellar songwriting, and I have already laid down my reasons why this is not the case. Save your money.