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No classic but it still has excellent moments - 88%

morbert, April 16th, 2008

Personally I like the title. But I like the album cover even more. I’ve always had the hots for weird thingies. A woman kissing a fish. Simple idea but since it is a good looking fish (the woman is okay as well) we’re talking about a great cover here. Of course we have a new guitarist here, Grapow, and obviously it’s not easy to make the fans forget Kai Hansen. He never achieved that i.m.o by the way. But apart from having one new member it is also notable that mr Grapow already wrote or co-wrote a large part of this album. Also Kiske wrote more than usual this time. No wonder the album sounds quite different since on earlier records it was mostly Weikath and Hansen.

The intro is short and a bit silly but over before you really notice it. What one does notice when “Kids Of The Century” kicks in, is in the bad cymbal production and the use of too much reverb on the guitars. The cymbals are simply too loud and pretty annoying. However the song itself is great. It’s still speed metal yet it has that Keeperish happy touch it.

Weikath is compositionally keeping a low profile here and one wonders why. Maybe writer’s block? Maybe Kiske was indeed dominating the band too much? Who knows what the reason was. But if there would have been more fast and heavy Weikath tunes here the album would probably have become more popular. No Eagle Fly Free or How Many Tears here unfortunately. His song “Number One” however is a slow but very good song and easily one of the best ones on the album. This doesn’t go for “Heavy Metal Hamsters” which Weikath co-wrote with Kiske. I can live with the title but the song is a rather generic second rate song which sounds more like a band immitating Helloween than Helloween themselves.

As said Roland Grapow has never been a favorite of mine (I also think Masterplan was/is extremly pretentious and dull) and most of his Helloween songs have never come close to what his predecessor could write. Funny thing however is that on Pink Bubbles Go Ape he managed to write my favorite song on the album, “Someone's Crying”. This song is so god damn beautiful and heavy at the same time. This is a song worthy of the Keeper legacy. Every single member performs at his best here. Kiske excels, the guitars are flashy and the drums are fast as well as dynamic. A perfect song. 10 out 10 points really.

Another gem here is “The Chance”. Once agaion written by Grapow. It is a mixture between ‘speed-metal-light’ and radio friendly melodies, but the vocal performance by Kiske is one of his best ones on this album together with the earlier mentioned “Someone's Crying” and the song I will name next, “Mankind”. A very simple song with an epic touch written around an almost perfect vocal performance. Such beauty and grandeur!

“Back On The Streets” is a decent song. Nothing more. All in all the chorus could and should have been a lot better. Then it would have a highlight on the album.

“Goin’Home” isn’t that weird. It’s got a nice fast pace and great catchy chorus. If the song would’ve had a heavier production (especially guitarwise) most people would have called it a typical happy speed metal Helloween tune. Nothing wrong with it. The laid back way to up tempo drums are played have more in common with Iron Maiden than Jericho-era Helloween though. Maybe it’s the short funky bassline in the middle that pisses fundamentalists off?

Some people say that losing Kai Hansen also resulted in losing the speed. Weikath however also used to write some uptempo material but on this album he writes one of the slowest songs. The fastest and most heavy songs are written by Kiske and Grapow. Grapow later said in an interview that the songs he wrote for this album were not his own typical style of writing but he was attempting to write Helloween songs. Well, he really managed to pul it off. And I wished he would have written more song like Someone’s Crying on next albums as well…

Reading back my review sofar I must conclude that most of the album is pretty good. It is however cheesier and more polished than the earleir Keeper albums and of course this did make a lot of fans frown. The guitars at certain points simply aren’t heavy enough and the use of keyboards on a song like “Number One” is quite obsolete and an extra guitar playing those parts would have made these songs heavier. But hey, some songs are just too damn good or beautiful to ignore here people!

The main two reason to give this album ‘just’ 88 points are the earlier mentioned light weight production and the cheesy Heavy Metal Hamsters and finally the two really bad songs on the album, “I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man” and “Your Turn”. “I'm Doin' Fine, Crazy Man” without the double bass could have done well on an Aerosmith album but is just too much seventies rock-orientated for Helloween. “Your Turn” is a ballad but not a good one. It has a certain bluesy touch in the verses to it that doesn’t do well with Kiske’s clear vocals and the chorus is just too cheesy.

Skip those three songs and imagine the rest with a heavier production and you actually have a pretty excellent Helloween album.

First place songs: Someone’s Crying and Kids Of The Century
Second place: The Chance, Going Home, Mankind
Third place: Number One, Back On The Streets
Obsolete cuts: Heavy Metal Hamsters, Your Turn, I'm Doin' Fine Crazy Man