Helloween were one of the pioneers of the power metal genre, and released the seminal Keepers of the Seven Keys albums in 1987 and 1988. The band’s first vocalist was Kai Hansen, who focused on guitar after their first full-length album, 1985’s Walls Of Jericho. He left the band in 1989. Michael Kiske was the vocalist until 1993, and Andy Deris has been Helloween’s longest-tenured frontman, being in the band since 1994.
Hansen and Kiske rejoined the band for the Pumpkins United World Tour, which started in late 2017, and the lineup also released a single with all three singers sharing vocal duties. A live album and DVD from that tour were released in 2019, and the band decided to record a new studio album with the current lineup, which is Helloween. It’s their first new studio album since 2015’s My God-Given Right.
Hansen reflected on the recording of his first Helloween album in more than three decades. ”Being in the studio with my old companions after 30 years was very emotional for me. But at the same time, it was a completely different experience with the ‘new‘ boys. The collaboration of different songwriters and strong characters made the album very special: a unique mix with reminiscences from all chapters of the band’s history.”
The three vocalists have their own individual, distinctive styles that all fit perfectly with Helloween’s style, creating an album that is both varied and cohesive. Almost all the songs were written individually, with the songwriting distributed between Deris, Hansen, guitarist Michael Weikath, guitarist Sascha Gertsner, and bassist Markus Grosskopf.
The songs are classic Helloween power metal with crunchy guitar riffs, memorable solos, and catchy melodies. All three singers deliver excellent performances in both lead and backing vocals, which is no surprise. The presence of so much vocal talent seems to have pushed everyone to give even more, not wanting to be outshone by the others.
There’s a nice mix of more epic tracks such as the opener “Out For the Glory” and “Robot King” along with more streamlined songs like “Best Time” and “Cyanide.” The highlight of Helloween is the 12-minute closer “Skyfall” that expertly blends the group’s past and present (along with some David Bowie influences) into a majestic and powerful song. It’s also a compelling video, that you can check out below.
Even at 65 minutes, the album doesn’t drag at all. The crystal clear production, musical variety, and lack of filler keep the momentum going throughout. And even more music is available, with some versions including two or three bonus tracks.
For longtime fans of the band, Helloween delivers something from all eras of the group’s past, from power metal to speed metal to hard rock. For those only familiar with part of Helloween’s long career, it’s a great opportunity to hear the full spectrum of their musical palette along with the three different singers.
How long this incarnation of Helloween will stay together is anybody’s guess, but the next tour will be memorable, getting to hear them sing the classics from throughout the band’s history along with this excellent new material. It’s a win-win for fans.