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Back for another round. - 89%

hells_unicorn, July 12th, 2007

After a fairly disappointing release in “Rabbit Don’t Come Easy”, I was on the fence about whether or not Helloween would recover from the loss of Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow, particularly the former as the resulting drum sound of said album was highly mechanical. “Mrs. God” was the first release to catch my attention afterwards, holding a song title that would lead me to believe that the band would try to resurrect the intellectual agnostic themes of “Why” and “Hey Lord”. However, what the song itself actually symbolized was a return to the half serious, half comical approach to album creation that first reared its head on the second Keeper of the Seven Keys album.

The song itself is quite short, barely missing the 3 minute mark, but there is a lot of interesting stuff packed in here. Aside from the obvious slapstick lyrics depicting a feminine deity laughing at the antics of the human race, we have some rather unusual sectional contrasts; particularly the somewhat mysterious sounding verse which gives off a sense of impending drama, followed by an almost comically catchy chorus. The solo is jacked up in pitch with an octave effect, perfect for annoying your dog or cat, while the following brief instrumental section reeks of a homage to Weird Al Yankovic’s parody of the annoyingly catchy Nirvana abomination, otherwise known as “Smells like Teen Spirit”, although they saw fit to throw in a funky sounding slap bass fill in before the ridiculous sounding sheep sound. The music itself is so bipolar in style that it comes off as neurotic upon first listen, but after repeated listens it is easier to understand, much as was the case with the famous Keeper 2 anthem “Rise and Fall”.

By complete contrast, the two accompanying songs are devoid of Deris’ unique brand of satire and bring us back to the serious side of Kiske era Helloween. “King for a Thousand Years” is cut from the same long-winded epic style as the title track of the 2nd Keeper album, going through a rather arcane sounding narration and a rather charmingly dark acoustic intro. The song is nearly 14 minutes long but it moves very fast, making you wonder where the time went when you notice that 8 minutes have passed by the time you get to the actual chorus. “Run” is another solid up tempo rocker from the Sascha Gershner vault, sounding quite similar to the standout track of the last LP “Open your life”, although the drum work is more toned down and there is a lighter feel due to an increased keyboard presence. If nothing else, it can be plainly stated that although Gershner is the new kid in town in the Helloween fold, he is hardly the weak link.

I picked this up a couple of weeks before the 3rd Keeper album came out and after several listening sessions I was more than convinced that Helloween was a long way from hanging it up. If you are a core Helloween fan, or if you really enjoyed the latest Helloween LP and are hungry for more, the non-album track “Run” alone makes this a worthy purchase. Usually I buy singles to satisfy an uncontrollable desire to own each and every release put out by a band. But in this particular case, I can recommend that pretty much anyone who likes Helloween’s post-Kiske work would do well to pick this up.