This must be one of the most anticipated album releases in the metal community for a long time. When the news of Pumpkins United broke we all thought this was a one-off happening meant for live performances only. But after the Pumpkins United tour a new studio album took shape and now the time has come to release the record.
So how does the album sound? Well, if you think this will be a trip back to the early days of Helloween you will be disappointed. In fact, the new self-titled album actually leans more towards the late Helloween fronted by Andy Deris than the early days. A few parts here and there make me think of the Keeper-era but the main thing that keeps the nostalgia factor present is that the vocals of Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen are back. I am quite surprised over how well the vocal combination of Kiske/Deris works. After a month together with this album I have come to love the vocal co-operation of these two gentlemen. I consider this to be the album’s strongest asset.
Initially I fell for catchy tracks like “Fear Of The Fallen” with its huge chorus and “Best Time” with a verse that reminds me of the Helloween classic “I Want Out”. Now when I have listened to the record a bit more, I have found a few other tracks that really has grown on me. “Rise Without Chains” has clever melodies and a quite strange chord change in the chorus that really stands out. The biggest grower on the record however is “Robot King”. At first, I regarded the track as one of the weak points of the album. But this is a monster of a composition, the first part is a quite straight forward heavy rocker, but the song evolves into epic proportions during the latter part of the seven minute-track. The other favourite is the 12-minute closer “Skyfall” which is the only track penned by Kai Hansen. This also is the only composition that wholeheartedly is reminiscent of the early days of Helloween. A fantastic song that will please all fans of the Keeper-era.
As a whole, “Helloween” is a more than solid effort that will please most fans of the band. It is not sensational though; a couple of tracks are definitely what I would label as fillers. But as said before, the shared vocal duties between Deris and Kiske is what pushes the album above most of the later works in their discography.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of release: 18/6-21
Stand out track: Robot King