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One of the best live video releases ever! - 92%

aplws, October 20th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, 2 blu-rays, Nuclear Blast (Digibook)

Many old Helloween fans have always wished for a reunion tour with Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. With the Pumpkins United World Tour (2017-2018) their wishes were finally answered and as a bonus the band put out this amazing live video release to celebrate the event. This is a dream come true for the old fans and a historical live documentation for the band’s legacy.

United Alive offers value for money as it serves nearly 3 hours of live footage and several interesting extras. The concert footage is taken from three different locations and thus you get to experience more of the tour than just one specific concert. Most songs are filmed in a large arena in Madrid, others in a packed venue in Brazil and the rest in Wacken Open Air Festival. There are four bonus tracks, including two songs filmed in two different locations and a long interview with the band members. In addition you get extras like compilations of animations and LED content shown during the shows.

The band’s performance is spectacular as both old and newer members are in great shape and mood. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and the energy from the band and the crowd is captured perfectly. Even though some solos are altered the guitar work is mesmerizing and the triple guitar attack works fabulously. The vocal performances by Michael Kiske and Andi Deris are on a very high level and although Kiske is clearly on a different league, they both work with each other successfully and offer great harmonies during their duets. The drumming is truly impressive, especially during the older songs and the performance of the bass guitar is also remarkable and varying. The whole band sounds very tight, as if they have played in this formation for decades and the emotion emitted from their performance shines through.

If one band member deserves separate praise, that is Michael Kiske. The guy is in his 50’s and sounds very close to his younger self back in the 90’s. He goes through demanding songs like "Keeper of the Seven Keys" and "Eagle Fly Free" with little effort, still hitting some crazy high notes and exhibiting plenty of power and charisma.

The set list is carefully chosen and offers plenty of fan favorites that run through Helloween’s entire discography. The band was not afraid to perform long songs like “Halloween” and "Keeper of the Seven Keys", as well as "Kai’s Medley" clocking in nearly 14 minutes each. In addition they added tracks that are rarely played like "I’m Alive", "A Little Time" and "Rise And Fall", newer songs, as well as fan favorites like "Eagle Fly Free", "Future World" and "I Want Out". The highlights are many but personal favorites include the aforementioned long songs, the phenomenal renditions of "Eagle Fly Free", "I’m Alive" and "How Many Tears" and the ballad "A Tale that Wasn’t Right". Out of the bonus tracks "March Of Time" is easily the strongest performance.

The video footage is of great quality. The concerts are filmed with multiple cameras, the image is crystal clear and split screens are used in several instances to show the various performers simultaneously. The audio quality is also on a high level, although it slightly varies depending on the location of the filming.

Besides the praise there are also some flaws. The band should be congratulated for reuniting with the old members while keeping the previous line-up intact and performing in such a high level, but this decision also causes some disadvantages. As mentioned before Andi Deris is in a much better shape compared to the past 7 years but he is not in the same league as Michael Kiske. This is obvious throughout the set and it drags some songs down. The other flaw has to do with the video editing which rarely focuses on the drums and misses some great vocal moments and some guitar solo parts, choosing to show the crowd instead.

In conclusion United Alive is a must buy for Helloween fans and metal fans in general. Personally I view it as one of the best metal live video releases ever. It needs to be watched in its entirety in order to be fully appreciated and it is surely worth everyone’s time.

(Originally written for http://www.amazon.co.uk website)