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A good introduction to classic helloween. - 97%

hells_unicorn, August 28th, 2006

Helloween pretty much falls into 3 separate eras, the Classic era, the experimental period, and the revival period. This release, which came at the very end of the classic era of Helloween (consisting of all 4 original instrumentalists, and Michael Kiske at the helm), is essentially the prime rib of that particular era of Helloween.

The first 3 tracks here are essentially the most radio friendly, the most catchy, and the most polished tracks ever released during this era. They are all mid tempo rockers with memorable riffs, solos and choruses. Of these, "I Want Out" is probably the most powerful, which is probably why it is the most covered song by power metal bands of late and cited as a big influence in those circles. Future World is a bit similar, though the solo section is a bit more complex. Dr. Stein is lyrically a bit comical (a characteristic of much of Michael Weikath's works), and is probably the most musically complex of the 3.

The next 3 tracks go back to the pre-Kiske portion of the classic era when Kai Hansen was handling lead vox. Stylistically these songs are more speed metal than Power Metal, at times reminding me a bit of early Metallica. The stand out track in this bunch is clearly "Ride the Sky" where Kai soars up into the stratosphere with his incredible range, and he and Weikath rip out some amazing solos. Walls of Jericho is pretty much an instrumental prelude that contains the melody used for that creepy comercial viewed in the third Halloween movie (a fairly big influence on the band as this theme is encountered multiple times on several Helloween albums). Judas is another high speed thrill ride, though it's chorus lack the strength that "Ride the Sky" has.

The next 7 tracks are a series of good but less well known songs from the Michael Kiske era, surrounded by two of their longest and most musically complex songs to date. Of these two, "Halloween" is clearly the more musically complex, probably due to Kai Hansen's more technical playing style and inclinations towards classical music. "Keeper of the Seven Keys" is more melodic and has a much more powerful chorus, and although I mostly prefer Kai's work to Weikath's, this one is the exception.

The other 5 tracks on here are mosly rarities, except for "Save Us" which appears as a regular track on "Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 2". Of these, the version of Victim of Fate with Michael Kiske doing the lead vox is my personal favorite, mostly because of the sheer intensity in the vocal performance. Savage is a high speed fury of speedy metal that almost sounds quasi-punk rockish. Living ain't no Crime is sort of a hard rock/metal hybrid, and Don't Run for Cover is a fairly Iron Maiden-like rocker.

In short, if you are a bit hesitant to invest in 3 full studio albums, but you are curious about this band, the band that pretty much pioneered the Power Metal sound of today, this is the place to start.