8/10

This album includes one gigantic masterpiece. Kai Hansen’s epic “Skyfall” totally overflows with power, invention and masterful musicianship. The three guitarists rub the living daylights out of their instruments. Michael Kiske and Andi Deris stretch their vocal cords into oblivion. Add to that a musical blend stretching from exciting use of acoustic guitars to parts of pure symphonic rock, with Hansen singing out in the middle section of his strangely sole song on the album. Also crucial are the emotions which this piece gives me. Euphoria, sadness, amazement. When the celestial final minutes ring out, ushered by strings and choirs, one thing is for certain: “Skyfall” challenges “The Dark Ride” as this scribe’s all-time Helloween #1 song.

The rest?

Well, there are a couple of masterful Michael Weikath songs, of which “Out for the Glory” brings out classic pumpkin pomp en masse and “Robot King” deserves applause for it’s sheer uncompromising power. Let’s not forget Sascha Gerstner’s organ/strings-laden and equally beautiful “Angels”.
Then there’s the majestic “Fear of the Fallen”, Andi Deris’s aggressive “Mass Pollution”, double bass drum bonanza “Rise Without Chains” (think “We Damn the Night” or “Sun 4 the World”) and “Cyanide”, a Deris tune (again), combining pop-style melodies with the harshest steel.

But also, there are fillers. “Best Time”, “Indestructible” and “Down in the Dumps” are nice tunes, but somewhat forgettable and could easily have been left off the album, making it a more graspable listen. Or they could have been making way for more Hansen masterpieces.
As a whole, though, this album is with no doubt Helloween’s strongest since “The Dark Ride” (2000). Two members are especially worthy of praise, namely Markus Grosskopf with his bubbly bass passages and Andi Deris who (thanks to friendly competition with Michael Kiske?) sings stronger than ever before. Or rather – EVERYONE fight for the spotlight, just as it should be.

Artist: Helloween
Title: Helloween
Date of Release: 18/6-21
Label: Nuclear Blast
Rate: 8/10