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Just A Little Rabid - 78%

Sekrys, November 10th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Nuclear Blast (Reissue)

After the Dark Ride, Helloween's situation was dire. Roland Grapow, perhaps their greatest guitarist, was kicked out of the band (apparently this was done by email). Uli Kusch was also gone; A real shame since his technique and tone surpassed even Ingo Schwichtenberg. The question was, how would this change affect their sound? Would they still pursue the dark and dreary sound of the previous record, or would they attempt to regain their positivity? For better or for worse, the latter option was chosen, especially pursued by Michael Weikath. Though Rabbit Don't Come Easy is a fine record with a good production value, it has to be said that it is the most inconsistent of all Helloween albums.

First of all, Helloween had to bring in new members to replace Roland and Uli. They ended up choosing a man named Sascha Gerstner, from the band Freedom Call, as recommended by their producer (Charlie Bauerfeind). Sascha certainly has a more modern direction in his playing, but technically he is probably just as good as Roland Grapow, though Grapow was always more of a virtuoso. Replacing Uli did not turn out to be so easy. The first person chosen for the job was Mark Cross, from the band Firewind at the time. Unfortunately, this did not follow through well at all. Mark got a horrible disease which inflicted great pain and fatigue upon him whenever he tried to do strenuous physical activity. He obviously could not fulfill his duties fully, only showing up on Listen To The Flies and Don't Stop Being Crazy. Mikkey Dee of King Diamond and Motorhead fame was chosen as a session member for the album to lay down drum tracks. After a while, Helloween picked up Stefan Schwarzmann of Accept; This did not last. On the next album, they would finally get Dani Loble, completing (mostly) the modern Helloween lineup.

Rabbit Don't Come Easy is essentially the first modern Helloween record, in terms of the sound and in terms of the production. The production is quite modern, but strong, which is definitely one of the strengths of the album. Later Charlie would overproduce their albums way too much and make them sound unauthentic and rather odd. As for the songs, I'll make note of the stronger better tracks first, all of which are more speed oriented. Both the opener and Open Your Life are great power metal anthems, both crafted in a very melodic and fast manner representative of power metal. Liar is very reminiscent of the old speed metal days of Helloween, and is one of their more aggressive tracks lyrically. The last highlight of the main album is Listen To The Flies; The track possesses very catchy verses and a great chorus section. The bonus track Far Away also succeeds in this fashion; it really should have replaced some of the filler.

Though it does have spectacular songs, Rabbit Don't Come Easy also has some mediocre garbage. For example, Never Be A Star has to be their most underdeveloped song; It just plods on at mid-pace, seemingly always repeating what I suppose is a chorus. Although typically Helloween ballads are fantastic, Don't Stop Being Crazy also manages to just be average, with some really subpar lyrics to boot (even the title manages to be trite). The final "epic" of the album just falls flat, being just a weird hard rock/reggae tune. All the other songs not mentioned are pretty good, it must be said.

Maligned and insulted, many overreact to Rabbit Don't Come Easy's downfalls because of the phenomenal record that came before it. This is unfair to the album, as it still is a pretty good record. Fans of modern Helloween should like this record a lot, while those who fancy pre-Andi Deris material or even early Deris albums should beware. Luckily, this lineup would strengthen itself and deliver some of Helloween's best pieces, not-so-far in the future.

Could Have Been a Lot Worse - 62%

Ridley, March 19th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Nuclear Blast

I view this album in spiritual similarity to "Master of the Rings": both are, in a way, "reformation" albums after suffering the loss of 2 band members, are hampered from glaring flaws, and have awful album art, though the album up for review has the absolute worst they have ever put out. Both releases also mark a new beginning in Helloween's discography that opened them up to future albums of much higher quality.

Rabbit Don't Come Easy is quite a strange album by Helloween's standards, a mix of both experimentation outside of and strict adherence to the typical power metal template that can either come across as inspired or shameless filler depending on what track you're listening to. It's easy to hear that certain songs presented here are busting to the seams with overcompensation that is completely unjustifiable, while others play it far too safe. Apparently Weikath was unhappy with The Dark Ride and wanted to remove the band from that sound as much as possible, which he at least succeeded in. Gone are the depressing, atmospheric ventures like "Escalation 666" or the fantastic "Departed"- "Rabbit..." is filled with "Happyween", sugar coated and at times topped with globs of cringe-inducing goofiness, for better or for worse.

And in that presents one of the biggest flaws here, how absolutely forced some of this album comes across as. Just listen to the abysmal crapshoot that is "The Tune"; sure, it has some pleasing chords, but god damn it is so typical it's actually painful to sit through. It isn't helped by the fact that the drum production on every song that features Mikky Dee behind the kit seems slightly too loud. Perhaps the mixing is okay and it's just his playing style that doesn't match well with the rest of the band's, with it's low level of variation and stock heavy metal dynamic approach (not to say his abilities are sub-par, as he's definitely a skilled and experienced musician). This isn't a problem for tracks such as "Liar", which is a straight-forward power/thrash excursion that succeed's as one of the album's strongest offerings, but the ham-fisted wailing is just irritating on songs like the aforementioned "The Tune". Fortunately, the production's quality is ample, and the increased employment of synths is complimentary to the music.

The other glaring issue with RDCE is with the songwriting. There's a wide range of influences presented here, sort of an incoherent jumble of traditional Helloween material and musical ideas from other genres that often sound factitious. Unfortunately, some of the writing just falls flat, whether it be due to uneventful and snooze-inducing tracks that don't go anywhere, or an attempt to combine certain genre elements that definitely should have been left in the rehearsal room. "Never Be a Star" attempts to fuse an acoustic oriental melody with arena cock-rock and absolutely fails, "Back Against the Wall" is a nu metal shart that probably takes the cake as one of the worst Deris-era tracks ever written, and the Led Zepplin aped closer isn't necessarily bad, but it's just such a strange piece of music to end an album on and has a bloated runtime. Oh, and the opening number's lyrics are so excruciatingly cringe inducing, they almost negate what is otherwise a well-written and very catchy song.

I know I just bashed this album for a few paragraphs, but in actuality, there's plenty of bright spots to outshine the mediocrity. More often than not, there's compelling songwriting presented here, which is surprising considering the messiness of getting this album released in the first place. "Open Your Life" is the strongest song on display and doesn't need any special out-of-genre influence... It's just Helloween doing what they do best, writing strong riffs, sparkling melodies that won't leave your head, and NOT writing lyrics about popping a boner at a high school crush. "Hell Was Made in Heaven" and "Sun 4 The World" also do a good job of showing Helloween hasn't gone completely off the deep end, the latter succeeding in introducing a middle-eastern folk inspired flair to the composition. Hell, even the "required" ballad is tolerable. Also aiding this album is the presence of new guitarist Sascha Gerstner (ex-Freedom Call); he fits right in with the band and has a neat soloing style all to his own. His additional dynamic can not be overlooked. Mark Cross, who was supposed to be the band's new drummer, but fell ill and was subsequently ejected later, is present on a meager 2 tracks and only gets to display his skill on "Listen to the Flies". Both his use of dynamics and his technical fluency on his instrument undeniably outclasses Dee's, and whether the band or the label (or both) decided to not wait for him to recover from ill health definitely impeded the overall quality of this release. At the very least, he would have been a better fit for Helloween's sound.

While "Rabbit..." isn't a must-have for power metal or even Helloween fans, and it's certainly Helloween's weakest release since some of their early 1990's forays into pop. However, there's enough good selections in this all-you-can-eat musical buffet to warrant picking it up for the right price.

Timeless heavy metal - 85%

Lane, August 25th, 2012

'Rabbit Don't Come Easy' is Helloween's tenth full length studio album. The band have created an album, that sounds timeless. The production is the best yet for the band, but the music itself has its roots in the last 30 or so years of rock and metal. However, Helloween do not sound "old" in the negative meaning of the word.

Helloween are happier again, after 'The Dark Ride'. Some of the most happy-sounding bits are a bit too much candy for my ears (thankfully there is no such abomination as 'The Game Is on' to be heard here). But in general, Helloween have created such a beast of an album, that even the most candy moments are good. I had hard time getting into happier sounding parts of the opener 'Just a Little Sign' and 'The Tune', but the latter actually has one of those monster riffs in it. Yes, that heavier stuff. Wow!!! Almost every song have something special in them, that x-factor which makes a listener go from start to the end without forwarding over any song. Darkest song, 'Back Against the Wall', is for some reason a song I do not like, even though it has a great chorus.

The music is varying from speed metal stuff to heavier metal and over to balladish bits and even reggae (fantastic and massive 'Nothing to Say'), but still this might be Helloween's tightest album to date during its one hour plus duration. The music is mature, but still the songs rock like hell. If you've heard the band's cover album 'Metal Jukebox', the timelessness of the material should not be such a surprise after all. The band's performance is professional in every sense and changes in the line-up haven't caused any problems with chemistry inside Helloween. Drums are played by Mikkey Dee (Motörhead, ex-King Diamond), except on two of the songs. I like Markus Grosskopf's "wandering" bass playing style, meaning that he doesn't stick to a single note or two. Sascha Gerstner is the new guitar player and sounds ace with Michael Weikath.

Andi Deris gets better with every record and I have got into his unique vocals already, even though it took pretty long to happen. He's able to handle high voices and lower parts without any trouble. His voice somewhat reminds me of ex-Iron Maiden man Paul Di'Anno. Raspy voice, but Andi has a much wider register. You have to be able to resist German humour. "Something's growing in my pants, as she looks into my eyes", these lyrics of the opener are just one of the many to be heard on the album. Covers are cool, even though the graphics are a bit "funny". Just wait for the surprise when opening the digipak version...

Helloween have created an enjoyable album. If you're into heavy/power metal, get this, you shouldn't be disappointed with this batch of songs. Great summer music, this one!

(originally written for in 2003)

Oh come on. - 69%

Empyreal, July 20th, 2009

I just reviewed Helloween's Gambling with the Devil and talked about how awesome it was, so here's a review that is basically the equivalent to hosing me down with about a million fire hoses. Rabbit Don't Come Easy is basically another Chameleon-esque album, except this time it's not as good, and only really saved by some adamant hooks.

Some of these songs are just flat out bizarre, even for Helloween. There is no coherency at all here; it's like the band members went home and wrote these songs without consulting one another beforehand, and threw them together without any regard for consistency or flow. We have speed metal, hard rock, ballads, middle Eastern shit, reggae, Led Zeppelin worship...good god, is there any end to the madness? Well, yeah, there is, and I do have to give the band points for creativity here. It's just that the songwriting on here isn't near as strong as it has been at other points of the band's recent career. There are a lot of songs on here that just sound more generic than usual, showing a rather shocking laziness on the band's part in terms of riffs and leads. The band still retains their attitude here, but it's kind of lost in the mire of more standard songs than usual - no doubt caused by the schism that was going on in the band at the time, but it's pretty weak nonetheless.

So...good songs on this thing. "Open Your Life" is probably the best, with soaring melody lines, crunchy riffs and a killer anthemic chorus that you will be singing from here to forever. It's really quite a quirky little take on the standard Power Metal take, with the chugging rhythms underneath the melodies. Not exactly groundbreaking, but it's more like creative twist if anything. "Sun 4 The World" is cool, sounding the most like what we expect modern Helloween to sound like, with its nice grooves and interesting Middle Eastern elements. Speedy opener "Just A Little Sign" has a catchy chorus, and it's pretty fun, gets you pretty pumped up for the disappointment that follows. "Hell Was Made In Heaven" has an awesome chorus, probably the best one on the album, but musically it's a pretty generic second-tier Power Metal track. This is more like what we expect from Gamma Ray these days, not Helloween. Oh, and "Liar" kicks ass, too, a nice and thrashy tune that hearkens back to the Walls of Jericho days with a nice modern flair.

"Nothing to Say" is the talking point of this album, an eight minute exercise in everything from reggae to Led Zeppelin aping, and Helloween have actually pulled off quite a strange spectacle here. It's definitely the strangest album closer they've ever done, and probably the most unorthodox epic I've ever heard out of any metal band that wasn't some kind of crazy Avant-Garde hybrid. The chorus is big and catchy and the instrumentation is jarring and jagged, and it's not a great song, but the effort is appreciated nonetheless.

Everything else is a bit uneven. "Never Be a Star" is boring, as are "Don't Stop Bein' Crazy," "Do You Feel Good" and "Back Against the Wall." These songs are obviously trying, it's just that they're not tied together well at all. They sound weak and sort of contrived, fillers even despite sounding rather pleasant while they're on, with stale riffs and uninspiring melodies. "Listen to the Flies" has some good parts, but again, not tied together well enough to really be a top notch song. And the worst thing is that even the good songs on here sound like they were taken from different albums or even different bands; it's a huge mish-mash of styles and quality all around, nothing sounds like it should go together with the next song. Is this really the same band that wrote The Dark Ride?

...No, it isn't actually, because Michael Weikath thought that that album was too dark, and that caused this over-compensation for the band's forage into more mature areas, this strange, strange need of his to write an album that was all sunshine and flowers and rainbows. Yes, where the last album was a great, juicy Reese's Cup in your plastic pumpkin Halloween candy bucket, this one is more like a fat-free Hershey bar or something; however they would even make that. The analogy works, so shut up about it. This music is too humorous, too blatantly comedic...I like funny stuff, but really, not when it hinders the songwriting in a band's music! This isn't funny so much as it is embarrassing at times. And we can also blame Weikath for causing the schism that led to the disaster that was Ride the Sky, too, so that's another couple of points off the rating.

But really, I guess this album isn't terrible. It is kind of fun at times, to turn your brain off to and just sing along. It's probably the worst Helloween album I've heard, but it's still not a god-awful album, or anything of the sort. It's confused, it's frustrating, and at times it's pretty boring, but there are still some shining moments to evidence what band you're listening to. Decent album, some good songs, but it lacks any semblance of direction or power to make it worthy of anything but a casual listen every now and then.

Oh yeah, and the drums are too fucking loud, too.

Easily the best Deris-era album - 85%

morbert, April 15th, 2008

So shut the fuck up about the title. It seems its always metal heads who got into the scene during the nineties (or even later) who don’t get humour in metal. Pink Bubbles Go Ape was also about the music and not the title. So give it a rest. I also do not care about the album cover. I’m here about the music although I must admit a great title and great atwork do have a positive effect. But if it’s bad I just ignore it.

I must admit it took me a few years before I learned to appreciate Deris-era Helloween. I had the opportunity (?) to see them perform live somwhere in ‘98, opening for Iron Maiden and hearing Deris raping Eagle Fly Free among other holy classics. I hated him even more at that moment. By the time “Better Than Raw” came out I had only just learned to appreciate some material from “Time Of The Oath” (and I stress ‘some’). Unfortunately the band then released a hideous piece called “The Dark Ride” which a friend of mine bought and I had to hear it a lot of times. God I still hate that album. Helloween shouldn’t be dark. Leave that to the painty boys from Scandinavia, please! Helloween is about fast power metal and happy songs. When “Rabbit Don't Come Easy ” came out, the album title and cover immediately gave me that old school Helloween feeling, so I checked it out to give them yet another chance. Boy was I positively surprised!

The whole album is simply great. It sounds like Helloween again! It is the album they should have released right after Pink Bubbles instead of that weird Chameleon experiment. Of course I will always prefer Kiske but when Rabbit came out I had gotten used to Deri’s presence and voice. Away with the darkness of the previous effort or the inconsistency of Master Of The Rings. Here’s a quality album that sounds like Helloween again and with plenty of variation as well.

Opener “Just a Little Sign” perfectly combines the heavier riffing of Better Than Raw with a typical old school catchy Helloween chorus and great work on leads. Talking about catchy chorusses, the album is filled with them. Second song “Open Your Life” goes through all kinds of tempi and Deris gives one of his best performances here.

“The Tune” has a vocal melody on the chorus many may find too cheesy, but considering my love for ‘everything-seven-keys’ no Helloween chorus in that style can be too cheesy. Just a great melody and I’m sure a song like this will do nicely live. “Never be a star” is a good mid tempo pounder with strong chorus and although not a highlight on the album, heavy and catchy enough to earn a place.

“Liar” goes back to Better Than Raw in term of heaviness but never gets too heavy for the album. Other songs worth mentioning are “Do You Feel Good” and “Hell Was Made in Heaven”which both sound quite happy but are so strong and catchy I can recall these songs anytime I want. Remarkable.

Is there nothing bad here? Well a song like “Don't Stop Being Crazy” is actually a filler but not hideous. Kind of background music really. “Back against the Wall” is somewhat darker than the rest of the best but still an adequate song. Why then only 85 points for the best Deris-album? Because of the last two songs! “Listen to the Flies” has a promising outro but the song sinks into mediocrity and lacks a cathy edge. “Nothing to Say” is simply bad, filled with misplaced cheesy hardrock riffs. So two fillers and two bad songs take the album somewhat down. Fortunately the worst songs are in the end so they don’t spoil the rest of the album. Just programm the first ten tracks ;)

Comedy should go easier. - 72%

hells_unicorn, March 2nd, 2008
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Nuclear Blast

The year was 2003 and after losing 2 of its principle members, Helloween released this rather musically average and lyrically ridiculous album. It is pretty much common knowledge that Michael Weikath regretted the direction of “The Dark Ride”, but this album is a 100% over-correction and comes off as being utterly silly and nonsensical. One would argue that it is quite difficult to pull a rabbit out of your hat by resurrecting the spirit of a band after its line up has been gutted by internal struggles, but this album only succeeds in yanking the rabbit so hard that its ears come clean off.

“Rabbit don’t come easy” is not quite a “Pink Bubbles Go Ape”, but I get a strong sense of déjà vu every time I compare the two. Much as was the case with “The Chance” on the latter, “Open Your Life” proves to be the greatest track on here, and happens to be the handiwork of newly recruited ax man Sascha Gershner. We have a similarly ridiculous album cover to the 1991 flop, as well as an equally lackluster production, not too mention a similar ratio of good songs to bad ones.

The overall role of the drums on this album is a bit confused, owing heavily to there being 2 different drummers on here. Mickey Dee is probably one of the best in the business, but much as Uli Kusch did on Gamma Ray’s “Sigh No More”, its way over done. The beats suffer from too much speed, not enough change-ups, and being a bit too high in the mix. The tracks where Mark Cross plays the kit are much more appropriate and complement the songs, although this is only a significant change in the case of “Listen to the Flies”. The guitar work on here is pretty solid, owing mostly to Sascha Gershner’s highly methodical style. If there is a silver-lining to this less than stellar album it is that it kept Freedom Call’s former shredder from giving up on the metal genre.

The song quality on here is 100% relative to the composer, and sadly the one who truly brings this album down is Michael Weikath. “The Tune” is one of the most generic speed songs I’ve ever heard, not to mention so damned goofy that it begs to be skipped. “Do you feel Good” is equally as silly, although musically it is a bit more tolerable. “Back against the Wall” is a lame attempt at being heavy, something which seems to contradict Michael’s desire to get away from the sound on the previous release. “Nothing to Say” is 8 ½ minutes of redundant rock riffs, hardly worth a full listen.

The rest of the music on here is either solid or excellent. “Just a little sign” is another satirical effort from the Deris archives which succeeds in rocking fast, putting out a nice catchy chorus, yet doesn’t insist on being a singing joke. “Liar” is fast as hell and carries some rather spooky sounding sections. “Never be a Star” is almost a sequel to “Perfect Gentleman”, but its still fun to sing along with. Likewise, “Don’t stop being crazy” is a slightly more rocking version of Master of the Rings ballad “In the Middle of a Heartbeat”, but is charming and easy to hum along to. Marcus Grosskopf’s lone composition “Hell was made in Heaven” is decent, but doesn’t really stand out among the large collection of Deris songs.

The musical highlights on here are all branded with Sascha Gershner’s standard of musical excellence. “Sun 4 the World” showcases his abilities at capturing the sounds of eastern music and marrying it to the Power Metal style. “Listen to the Flies” showcases his talent for crafting fun fast songs with a ton of energy. But his magnum opus on this release is clearly “Open your life”, which is the most triumphant and dramatic sounding song on this entire album and the most lyrically removed from the absurd tone set by Weikath’s over-compensating sense of humor. Excellent guitar work on this one, although the performer who really shines on here is the vocalist.

"Rabbit Don't Come Easy" personifies a mixed album, it is recommended to fans of Power Metal, but look for it below the $10 price range. It is plagued by an overreaching sense of comedy, one which sought to keep the band from sounding like newly formed rival metal act Masterplan. If there were a contest between the two, the award for album of 2003 would definitely had gone to Roland and Uli, as Weikath has forgotten about the grand musical storytelling he did effortlessly on such Helloween classics as “Dr. Stein” and “Keeper of the Seven Keys”. However, Sascha Gershner adds an interesting new element to the band that can not be ignored, and this role would increase greatly in prominence on the next release.

Expectedly a step down - 77%

Bloodstone, February 18th, 2006

This album just cannot measure up to the previous one, the direct result of TWO factors:

1. Axeman Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch departing.

Grapow and Kusch's contributions to Helloween as both musicians and songwriters, along with vocalist Andi Deris (pretty much their main songwriter ever since he joined back in 1994), have been invaluable. They were part in the amazing accomplishment of building a worthy legacy of their own that didn't stray too far from the band's original ideals and concepts following such a colossal loss in guitarist Kai Hansen leaving. Surely that loss of a member of such importance would've instantly reduced almost any other band to elephant excrement, never to rise again. Imagine perhaps not something as absurd as Maiden surviving the loss of Steve Harris, but more along the lines of a good Slayer without Jeff Hanneman (well right now they're not good WITH him either, so maybe it wasn't the best of examples after all) and you get the picture.

In any case, this wouldn't be much of a problem if Roland and Uli merely were stellar musicians on their own, as this is HELLOWEEN we're talking about and they can get anyone they want, but the thing is that these two were both integral parts of the sound and chemistry of 1994-on resurrection-era Helloween. Such individuals are always hard for ANY band to replace, because no matter the talent (in playing as well as in writing songs) of whoever comes replacing, there is always a high risk of losing identity, spirit and a certain undeterminable magic of a successful previous line-up. And that is exactly what has happened here, again. This is almost like the second coming of 'Pink Bubbles Go Ape' in that regard, the band's first full-length output not featuring Kai Hansen, widely considered their first "flop".

2. Musical differences within the band (a.k.a. events leading up to #1).

Uli and Roland wanting to stick with the darker themes begun on 'The Dark Ride' (really not that much of a change to these ears aside from production and guitar tone, see my review for it) and Weiki (Michael Weikath) thinking of that album as merely an experiment and wanting to go back to happy happy Helloween as quickly as possible afterwards. So here we see Weiki hell bent on making a "happy" record, unfortunately resulting in several instances of a "happiness first, songwriting second" thought behind some of this. As if 'The Dark Ride' was an abominable shitpile and worst thing to happen to them since 'Chameleon'. Weiki's tunes are clearly the happiest/goofiest, but one can certainly tell he's had quite an influence on the whole band's general direction here.

Oh there's good stuff on here too ("Ignorant and wasted, that's what you are, but you could be so much moooore!!"), y'all be so sure of that, but clearly the consistency here is lacking compared to three years ago - in fact, this is their least consistent effort since 1994's 'Master of the Rings'. As indicated by the title, some of this feels a little overly non-serious and, in a word, dumb. Well, in all fairness, perhaps not quite to a recent-Edguy extent ("Lavatory Love Machine" and "Trinidad" respectively), but the general idea of trading away actual songwriting power for, well, "humor" is definitely there, making for a frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying listen. Especially when it's not ACTUALLY funny - the only exception to this would be the by now infamous "something's growing in my pants..." line in the song "Just a Little Sign", but even so, it does little to save such a mediocre and overall disappointing album opener. Not even that nifty and totally headbangable little speed metal riff just before the first verse really does.

But perhaps worst of all is how generic some of this feels by Helloween standards. Not only is there that soulless and overpolished production lacking Roy Z's magic touch on 'The Dark Ride', but also these songs that seem cheaply thrown together and far too derivative of their own contemporary euro-power scene (that Helloween themselves were large part in creating). "Just a Little Sign", "The Tune", "Sun 4 the World" and "Listen to the Flies" all feature that typical boring double-bass, indistinct riffage and bland, Freedom Call (you know, that band that does a shitty job of copying classic Helloween in the first place)-styled flower metal choruses - just listen the line "make believe the world is mine" in the chorus of the first song where Andi TOTALLY emulates that annoying Chris Bay trademark sweetness, that, quoted from OlympicSharpshooter's (excellent) review for 'Crystal Empire', "makes every note sound extremely easy as if no effort is being put into it." What a fucking waste, I mean!

And who the FUCK let that goddamn attention whore of a Swede behind the drumkit, anyway? For sure, the guy has talent, and does an excellent job playing in Motörhead, but has no business in a speed/power metal band like Helloween. Despite of that, I read in an interview, he was given absolutely full control of HOW to drum on the album, without anyone telling him when to keep his playing restrained so that he doesn't go nuts just because he can. This results in some of the most annoying and least tasteful fills I've ever heard on a major label production - witness "The Tune" for the worst offence, in the prechorus for instance: "Love and *THUNKTHUNKTHUNKTHUNK* desire *THUNKTHUNKTHUNKTHUNK* Dry ice *THUNKTHUNKTHUNKTHUNK* or fire *THUNKTHUNK-THUNKTHUNKTHUNK*. There is little to no sense of good flow and coherence here. As Boris similarly complains, it is highly likely that he was also put in charge of how loud to turn his instrument up in the mix - fuck, this isn't a Helloween album, this is in reality Mikkey Dee's very own drum solo album!! As described above, this is a very "goofy, stupid and fun" sort of album and hiring this guy seems almost like a big joke in itself.

Now you must be thinking "whoawhoawhoa, waitjustaminutehere, SIX hefty paragraphs of negative criticism and still a quite decent rating (by this guy’s standards)?" It's a justified thought for sure, but the explanation for this is actually quite simple. The thing is, that when 'Rabbit' DOES manage to deliver the good stuff, which is at least about half the time, it is as good as ANYTHING they've done. I'm talking totally classic Helloween stuff here; if you like the other albums with Andi Deris, there is certainly something for you here and no bad production, drumming or silly humor can ever take that away from it. For example, "Open Your Life" - whoa, I mean, holy fuck!!! God called, he wants his main riff back. Utterly killer tempo shifting here, in the first half of the first verse and the pre-chorus. Those little lighter, mellower parts that somehow manage not to be annoying by slowing you down, but rather make the heavier parts that directly follow them sound absolutely fucking EXPLOSIVE. Rule, this does. Quite possibly better than anything on the otherwise far superior previous album.

There just isn't too much to say about the good stuff on here, that hasn't been covered in any of my previous reviews for their stuff. It's Helloween, and therefore rules by default. You want song details, check out Nightcrawler's review - but okay, since our scores and opinions differ just slightly, I'll point out the songs that are highlights for me: "Open Your Life" (the best), "Never Be a Star" (total recycle of their own "Perfect Gentleman", but I'll let that pass, still a great song), "Liar" (SPEED METAL!!!), "Do You Feel Good" (simple & sweet barrel o' fun & happiness), "Hell Was Made in Heaven" (SPEED AND POWER METAL!!!) and - surprise - album closer "Nothing to Say". Here we see Helloween trying their hand at a "Victim of Changes"/"Still of the Black Dog"-styled rocker and triumphantly succeeding at it. Say whatever the fuck you will, but even that little "reggae" pre-chorus just fucking WORKS and, just like the one in "Open Your Life", makes the chorus sound as if it jumps RIGHT at ya. "Now we can use all we give all of our loving and affection!!!" Where Edguy's "Lavatory Love Machine" fails, this song succeeds - at going completely out of their style just for some good ol' rock 'n' roll fun and still manage to be all of interesting, inventive and enjoyable, whereas "Lavatory" at best sounds like a mere Poison reject (and I'm not talking from their classic period here, with albums such as 'Open Up and Say...Ahh!', I'm mean from more recent and hideous stuff like 'Hollyweird').

As a matter of fact, since the only REAL dogs on here are "Don't Stop Being Crazy" (meh-ish power ballad) and "Back Against the Wall" (silly attempt at channeling that 90's Pantera/Machine Head groove metal stuff), I'm gonna have to admit this one thing here and now: that even with the relatively high score of 77, I drew off a couple of points from this for about half the tracks being so disappointing to hear from a band like Helloween, for reasons explained above. While listenable and to an extent enjoyable, these few songs are just not worthy of adding to Helloween's mighty legacy and the album as whole is simply made worse by the knowledge of the brilliant albums it succeeds. Were it a debut album, it would've scored maybe 80. Too bad a debut album of this quality (or higher) would be a rare occurrence these days - unless of course the band in question is the amazing HIBRIA, expect review in the near future!!

Rabbit don't come... WHAT??? - 78%

arkbath, November 1st, 2005

I feared this when I heard about the departure of Grapow and Kusch. Helloween promised a return to their old style after the “darkness” surrounding their previous release. There are good songs on Rabbit… but in my opinion you can’t listen to this album too often, it has to pass some time before you put it again on the stereo.

Just a Little Sign is a great opener, but maybe the best track from the whole album. The lyrics can be a little bit stupid, but the music is awesome, powerful and with a strong and memorable chorus. The solo give you an idea of what Helloween can do, it’s a shame that they don’t show they great abilities through the whole album. Open Your Life is another great song with good ideas, great guitar riffs and amazing drums. It keeps the greatness given by the first track, but all fades away when The Tune starts. Trying to get out of the Dark Ride style in this album flow too much happiness, just as the old Helloween used to, but this feeling this time can’t be managed perfectly. The Tune leads you to nowhere, even the solos aren’t interesting or unoriginal. Never Be a Star is not too good, it sounds like an emulation of Hey Lord! with some kind of oriental sound on the intro and a repetitive chorus. Liar is another good song from this album, I like it because its chorus reminds me of the Walls of Jericho or the Helloween EP choirs screaming with anger. The intro riff sounds great, contribution of the new guitarist Sascha Gerstner (if only Freedom Call had seen his potential…); the song is among the strongest and heaviest songs of the album, in the same way of Push and Mr. Torture, with a melodic and interesting solo. Returning to the oriental experiments we found Sun 4 the World. I don’t know, this song has nothing that I complain about: the backing keyboards are good and the guitars have some nice ideas on the rhythms and on the solo, but is far from being one of my favorites.
As I will always say, Helloween has failed in creating ballads, and Don’t Stop Being Crazy is not the exception. At the beginning of the song it doesn’t sounds like Helloween, and everything on this track sounds too soft, even though the chorus has some distorted guitars. Do You Feel Good? is the “happy” song of this release, but again, Helloween saturated this album with cheesy songs, and even this track keeps the tradition of the happy, weird and crazy song on every Helloween album with memorable riffs and solos, it remains without being remarkable enough between the other tracks from Rabbit… Hell Was Made In Heaven keeps a little from The Dark Ride (I thought they wanted to get out of that style) in the music and in the lyrics, and is a good song, nothing else, and Back Against the Wall is a little bit boring, maintaining the “evil” touch Helloween was trying to escape from. Listen to the Flies is the last good song on this album, again with ideas from Gerstner, so you won’t be disappointed with the guitar performance. Nothing to Say is too experimental, just as Mission Motherland, but it doesn’t seems to achieve the same greatness. It has nice ideas but it’s difficult to stand the whole song.

Maybe it was a mistake to fire Grapow and Kusch, maybe it’s better they take another way with Masterplan, well, the point is that the renewed Helloween has to try new and old things. One advantage they have is the musical abilities of Sascha, who I think is a great musician with a lot of fresh ideas. Resuming, Rabbit Don’t Come Easy is a good album, but everyone knows Helloween can make a better effort and they must prove this on their forthcoming releases. I hope so…

Dumb Name - 28%

meedley_meedley, December 19th, 2004

This album is so bad. Actually it sucks. The few good songs absolutely rule, but they cannot save the album. And what a dumb name, as mentioned before.

Before we go to the bad, let's look at the good. Opening track Just a Little Sign is nice. It's very melodic and definitly a plus for the band. This is kind of like stuff off The Dark Ride, in terms of dark verses and blistering speed. Vocals are well done and the chorus is even sing-a-long material.

Open Your Life is cool as well. Very good speed metal. Powerful chorus.

Liar is the fastest song here and is more thrashy than it is power metal. Bang your head on this one. This one just smokes ya. There's a little bit of a Malmsteen thing going in the pre chorus.

Hell Was Made in Heaven is catchy as hell. Try to drive 60 on a highway with this song going and just TRY not to sing along. Blazing speed and memorable chorus. Awesome. OH OH OH OH OH!

...and now the bad


The rest of the album sucks hairy monkey balls injected with cocaine! From annoying effects with the guitars, to crappy vocals, to FUCKING REGGAE?? WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING??? Yo Mon, dont write such crappy songs! Have they run out of good ideas? Were they all used on the Dark Ride? Did they write these while watching the Care Bears marathon??? The songs are too happy and cliched. Ugh, I really have nothing to say when i listen to Nothing To Say. Instead i press the stop button.

I dont have time for the rest of this album! I think I'll go blast The Dark Ride while i take a shit.

Dullard power metal... - 65%

Snxke, October 1st, 2004

Helloween return with yet another CD of churning power-metal guitars, weenie vocals and vapid lyric themes. This record is hardly impressive when placed compared in an age when every other band is pursuing this crap-Germanic "flower metal" sound. Credit where credit is due...the mix is beefy and the guitars wind with a strong reliance on natural talent that few my posess. Even so, this talent leads the band into predictable territory that may be enjoyable in the moment but has done little to progress the fortunes of Helloween and even less to make anything more than a "passable" album.

Some of the material on this is fun, with the opening "Open Your Life" working as a trash Maiden-tribute and "Liar" actually managing to kick a little ass. Otherwise, the rest of this could be interchanged with any other major German power metal act on the market today. (Aside from the brutal riffage of "Liar"...that is.) There are no "bad" songs on this...but the overall feeling is one of commercial disposability that replaces hooks with dazzling fluff-guitars. "Open Your Life" may catch your ear and hold you...but most of these songs drift by and please like a McDonalds happy meal. All substance.

Helloween may have created the genre that is currently smashing it's way through the metal underground (not to mention that is has divided many fans) but this record shows them mailing in the goods without much in the way of inspiration or passion. It's quality craftsmenship that deftly covers a lack of art with a fantastic production job and enough power-metal antics to entertain for the during of the spin.

Sadly...this offers nothing in the long term and marks Helloween as a band that might find themselves swept away with the coming fall of the power metal trend...

Helloween turn into stupid flower metal - 34%

UltraBoris, October 14th, 2003

This is complete swill. This is the stuff that Edguy clones are made of. This is not something that Helloween should have put out. The worst problem with this album? The drummer!!! I don't care if Lemmy hails him as "the best drummer in the world", he's still mixed in motherfucking far too loud, and the whole album just loses coherence when all I hear is that goddamn flowercore double-bass bullshit.

GIVE ME RIFFS, CUNTFACE!!!! Anyway, the actual songs range from okay to spectacular, and the album would be pretty good if it weren't for basically the worst production of any Helloween yet. This is certainly not Keeper II - Hell, it's worse than the Death Metal demo, because they pretty much gave it the Bob Rock treatment. Nonetheless, there's some great songs here, like Open Your Life, which is catchy as fuck and works brilliantly in the live setting. The first few songs in general are the best, though Never Be a Star sounds EXACTLY like Perfect Gentleman - it was okay then, it is okay now. Do You Feel Good is also a highlight, as is Listen to the Flies. Sun for the World is merely okay, and then there is Back Against the Wall which has these idiotic disco-meets-mallcore elements in it. You'll just have to hear it and be appalled.

Yeah, it's Helloween going all modern on us. I'd give the album at least a 75 or 80 if not for that idiotic production that completely ruins the enjoyability.