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Their best live album despite some minor flaws - 90%

kluseba, May 9th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2007, 2CD, Steamhammer

Helloween's Live in Sao Paulo is a perfect introduction to and summary of the band's decade-spanning career as it offers numerous classics of the eighties, a few cuts from the nineties and the greatest songs recorded in the early years of the new millennium. Most of this album was indeed recorded in Sao Paulo and it shouldn't be a surprise that the crowd is very enthusiastic, loud and passionate which gives this release a truly energetic and energizing spirit. Japanese fans are also known to be quite vivid and one bonus song was recorded in Tokyo while another one was played in the Czech Republic. This is where the subtitle of the DVD version of this release called Live on Three Continents starts to make sense.

The album mostly focuses on the three parts of the legendary Keeper of the Seven Keys trilogy that have defined the sound and spirit of European power metal. The concert opens with the most diversified, epic and intellectual song from these three albums called ''The King for a Thousand Years''. I have quite a special relation to this song because it was the first song I ever heard when I went to a metal pub with a friend for the first time in my life. Along with its short introduction, the opening tune is far over fifteen minutes long but that isn't a problem because this track has more changes, energy and ideas than some entire records of the band and the fans receive the complex but not complicated opener with a lot of joy. If you like the performance of the opener, you are going to like the entire release, if it isn't your cup of tea, you just shouldn't pick this double live record up.

The band offers a very good overview of its power metal soundscapes on this record. Fast and uplifting tunes with high pitched vocals and philosophical lyrics such as ''Eagle Fly Free'' meet more sinister and modern tracks with some fierce social criticism in the lyrics such as the liberating ''Mr. Torture''. Smooth ballads in the key of the dreamy ''A Tale That Wasn't Right'' meet more progressive tracks with dominating bass sounds and drum solos such as ''The Invisible Man''. The serious and gloomy epic ''Occasion Avenue'' with its unholy chants meets humorous party anthems like ''Dr. Stein''. The record simply never gets boring and the great live atmosphere and constantly high level of energy really keep this diversified set list together. The band couldn't have chosen a better moment or set list to release its first live album in eleven years. Of course, there are always a few personal favorites one would have liked to hear as well. I would have replaced the catchy but fairly average ''Hell Was Made in Heaven'' with the uplifting and original ''Lavdate Dominvm'' and I would have liked to hear the underrated anthem ''Kids of the Century'' instead of the power metal by numbers track ''Power'' but at least four fifths of this live release consist of essential Helloween classics.

One issue that is often mentioned in reviews are Andi Deris' vocals. In a band consisting of highly talented musicians, he might indeed be the only weak link. Many fans also claim that he can't perform the tracks of the beloved Michael Kiske era accurately. Andi Deris misses indeed a few higher notes in ''Eagle Fly Free'' or sounds slightly out of tone when performing parts of ''Dr. Stein'' but he compensates the few minor mistakes with his genuine energy and great entertaining qualities. One must also add that this is a live release and it would be boring if everything sounded absolutely perfect. The few minor flaws and mistakes make the listening experience more authentic and energizing in the end. Kiske fans will obviously always prefer his voice but they should at least admit that Andi Deris is giving his very best on this record.

The only thing that could potentially top Helloween's best live album, is a live release of the upcoming tour involving former and current Helloween members when both Andi Deris and Michael Kiske will be performing songs on stage. Since this hasn't happened yet, any regular, occasional or new fan of the band should definitely own Live in Sao Paulo for its vivid atmosphere, passionate performances and diversified set list.

Solid music, mixed vocal performance. - 82%

hells_unicorn, March 15th, 2007

It’s been 23 years since the inception of the revolutionary power/speed metal outfit Helloween joined an onslaught of classic German acts on the famed Death Metal compilation and 13 since current front man Andi Deris took over on vocals. In that time there has been a mountain of power metal anthems and epics that have been made available for live performance, ranging from the simplistic sing along hymns such as “Future World” and “I Want Out”, to the astoundingly complex epics in the vain of “Keeper of the Seven Keys”.

The selection for the set list on here obviously lacks any of Roland Grapow’s contributions, mostly due to Sascha Gershner’s radically different lead style. It also concentrates primarily on the Keeper albums, all three of them to be exact. Most of the classics from these albums are found here, including the humorous “Dr. Stein”, the equally witty “Mrs. God”, and the somewhat cheesy yet still fun power ballad “A Tale that Wasn’t Right”. We also get a rather ambitious number of epics to be found that clock in at over 11 minutes each, all of which are technically and musically spellbinding.

Much as was the case on the latest studio album, the person who really shines above the rest on here is drummer and newcomer Dani Loble, who formerly lit up the kit in support of former Maiden singer Blaze Bailey as a live session member. I genuinely think that he does a better job than that of Uli Kusch, not to mention getting a much more thunderous and triumphant sound out of his set, particularly the snare drum. He rips apart “Eagle Fly Free”, “Hell was made in Heaven” and “Power” like he’s not even trying, and really shows his stuff on “King for a Thousand Years”.

The remaining instrumentalists also pull their weight quite well. Sascha Gershner has been sort of a dark horse on my list of favorite guitar players since the incredible display he put on in several tracks off Freedom Call’s “Crystal Empire”, and on several tracks, both from the older Keeper tracks and the latest one, he rivals Michael Weikath quite well and even upstages him. Marcus is always in top form, definitely one of the most underrated bassists out there. Michael Weikath mostly shows his stuff on the classics, as he’s toned down his lead playing a bit on the last 2 studio releases.

The vocal delivery on here is where things are not 100% consistent, something which was also the case on the last Live CD I heard “High Live”. Although Andi Deris is an accomplished singer with a solid range, his voice struggles a bit with the Michael Kiske songs, particularly the ones with lots of high parts such as “Dr. Stein”, “I Want Out” and “Future World”. He does a better job on “A Tale that Wasn’t Right” and “Eagle Fly Free”, but even there the lack of punch on the higher notes shows itself. Picture Paul Di’anno trying to sing “Invaders” or “Number of the Beast” and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.

To prospective Helloween live album purchasers, this is the one to get if you like the latest stuff with Deris at the forefront. If you don’t like hearing classic Kiske era tracks being sung by someone else, use the skip button on the 3 mentioned tracks, “Future World” in particular if you don’t like drawn out audience sing along sections. (It does lose its effect when taken out of the context of the performance itself and transfers onto audio CD in particular) It’s slightly better than “High Live”, although it has a lot more classic Helloween tracks on it.

Fair effort, but Andi Deris almost ruins it - 65%

Mikesn, March 3rd, 2007

For one reason or another, I don't listen to many live albums. Ever since I started heavily listening to music, I've more or less listened to studio recordings. But I still enjoy hearing live recordings, and when I heard that Helloween was about to release a new live album, I decided to check it out. And, as I listen to the two hour recording, fully titled Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy World Tour 05/06: Live From 3 Continents, I'm not really sure what to think of the album. It's a rather good live record at some points, yet at the same time, it's rather bland at others. Kind of disappointing, for a band that has released two other live albums prior to this one.

I'll get to the positive aspects first. The greatest part about this release, recorded in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the performance of Helloween's musicians. The guitar tandem of Mike Weikath and Sascha Gerstner is in top form. The bassist, Marcus Grosskopf, and drummer Daniel Loble provide as solid a rhythm as they ever have, be it on stage or in the studio. It's quite a satisfying listen, hearing the band cut through the various epics and crowd favourites with relative ease and precision. Legendary tracks such as Halloween or I Want Out are energetic live affairs, as one would assume, and both tracks are converted to the live setting particularly well, especially the latter. Another characteristic of this album which greatly benefits Helloween is the immense production on the album. Similarly to the likes of Gamma Ray's Skeletons in the Closet or even Iron Maiden's Live After Death, the instruments are crisp and everything can be heard, the crowd is loud and plays a role in certain tracks (again, I Want Out is a good example), and Andi Deris has a good command over the mix (I'll get to this later though…). But, luckily, with all this enhancement, Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy World Tour 05/06 still retains a live feel, an aspect which should please fans of live albums. Finally, the set list for this recording is greatly appreciated. Helloween combines several of their older classics such as Halloween, Keeper of the Seven Keys, and Dr Stein with songs off of their latest studio album, tracks like King For a 1000 Years, The Invisible Man, and Occasion Avenue. All but one (Power) of their horribly mediocre 90's tracks have been left off the set list, and this makes for a much more enjoyable show. From my perspective, this a pretty sweet deal.

So where does this go wrong?

Two words. Andi Deris. While I quite like him in the studio, his performance on the band’s latest live album is quite…pathetic. His speeches either rather cringe worthy or rather hilarious, depending on the occasion. This aspect is most ridiculous on the track Future World, where he introduces the band and leads the crowd through the chorus of the track. This carries on for a good five minutes, and while it sounds like the band is having fun, it isn't really all that fun to listen to on the album. Some can make it work, some can't. Deris is among the latter. The criticism doesn't stop there however. While I praised the inclusion of the band's 80's classics, after hearing Andi destroy half of them, I think the term "double-edged sword" fits their inclusion rather well. Unlike Michael Kiske, whose inhuman vocal chords were perfect for Helloween's earlier material, the band's current singer cannot hit the high notes. At all. His range does not encompass such high singing, and it's shocking how much it ruins the song. Luckily, Deris redeems himself with songs like Mrs. God and Occasion Avenue, songs which mostly make use of his lower range vocal efforts and sound a hell of a lot less fluffy. Andi nails most of the newer material (exceptions include the fun Mr. Torture), but his disastrous renditions of the Keepers Pt. 1 and 2 really stand out in my mind and rather lessen my opinion of the album.

Overall, Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy World Tour 05/06 – Live on 3 Continents is a merely decent live offering from the influential Helloween. The actual musical elements are performed exceedingly well, and should impress most power metal fans, but the antics of vocalist Andi Deris will in most cases leave the listening laughing rather than headbanging. A rather unfortunate and harsh criticism, but one that was earned none the less. I don't really recommend going out in buying this release, as there are much better live albums floating around, but if you can stomach Andi's performance, then I suppose it wouldn't hurt to pick this up. But tread at your own risk.

(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)