If history is any indication, Helloween’s reunion with former members Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen should really have ended in disaster. But instead of exchanging black eyes and lawsuits, the now seven-man line-up has visibly been having the best time ever. With triumphant Pumpkins United live shows duly racked up, the prospect of a new Helloween album suddenly became vastly more exciting than it would have been otherwise.
Not that the band have rested on their laurels in recent times, but Helloween feels like a big deal, in a way that has eluded the band for decades. With Kai back on guitar and vocals (he fronted the band for their Walls Of Jericho debut in 1985) and Michael effectively duetting with Andi Deris on the bulk of these new songs (and brilliantly so), Helloween have got a shitload of extra weaponry in their performance arsenal and songwriting pool. Gloriously, Helloween is exactly as brilliant as it deserves to be.
From its magnificent and surreal Eliran Kantor artwork to the undeniable monstrousness of the guitar tones, Helloween exudes superiority and imperious power, and it’s ridiculously exciting. Although still firmly in ultra-melodic power metal territory, this is easily the heaviest record Helloween have made since The Dark Ride in 2000, but with sharper melodies and choruses than on any album since their late 80s, Keeper Of The Seven Keys peak.
The sheer quality is obvious from opener Out For The Glory; seven minutes of immaculate bombast, with razor-sharp twin-lead hooks and Kiske and Deris both scaling the octaves with more panache than ever, it’s Helloween in excelsis. From thereon, Helloween is a relentless joy. From rampaging singles Indestructible and Fear Of The Fallen to the gritty prog metal of Robot King and the electrified extravagance of the 12-minute Skyfall, every song loudly proclaims that Helloween are back to their euphoric, thunderous best.