I will start this review by admitting that I am a bit biased when it comes to Helloween these days, as I totally lost interest in the group many, many years ago. At one time in my life though, Helloween was one of my favourite groups and I still consider their self-titled debut-EP to be one of the, maybe THE, best Heavy Metal-albums ever to be recorded.
With the demise of Kai Hansen their records begun to be far harder to love though and with Michel Kiske out of the band a couple of years later I totally lost interest in Helloween as I didn’t get the hype with their release of “Master of the Rings”, featuring the new singer Andi Deris, at all.
Now, Almost thirty years and a bunch of albums later, the wait for a new Helloween-album, actually feels a little bit exciting again! The reason for this is of course, the long awaited return of, more or less legendary singer Michael Kiske and not the least, guitarist, vocalist and co-founder, Kai Hansen!
Helloween naturally understands the importance of the return of such a Metal-dignity and fan favourite as Kiske! Right away, he is given a lot of space as the opening track “Out for Glory”, besides being a fast paced, kind of by the book Power Metal-song, almost feels like one long refrain showing of Kiskes capabilities as a singer and on through the album he gets lots of chances to show the world that he, without doubt sure still got the voice!
Sadly, Kai Hansen does not seem to get that much “air time” since most parts, where his far more aggressive vocals would fit in, is sung by the group’s third singer Andi Deris. Even given that Andi’s contribution to the album is spotless I would have loved to hear more of Kai’s classic screaming vocals. According to the rumours Kai also only contributed with one song, although being the albums “magnum opus”, the twelve minute-monster Skyfall, to the album and his, a bit more sinister riffing surely is missed.
The fact that Kai’s song writing abilities isn’t utilized more is my biggest complaint with “Helloween” and instead of being a throwback to, in my eyes, greater days, the album continues in more or less the same tracks that Helloween has been walking the last three decades. All songs feels well written and well performed, and in the case of “Mass Pollution” and earlier mentioned “Skyfall” quite god, but most of the time they actually feel kind of bland. Both Kiske and Deris does a good job performing some quite captivating melodies but somehow I can’t help thinking that almost everything has been done before, and although all of the songs, in the moment, sounds quite ok nothing really fills you with that urge to “just listen one more time”.
I also find the album to be quite overproduced with massive amount of overdubs and strange interludes that breaks the flow off the song rather than contributing to the composition.
To me “Helloween” sounds more like the typical generic Heavy Metal-album of the 21st century, somewhat safe and soulless rather than the innovative metal that once won my heart and therefore, the glorious return of Kiske and Hansen sadly falls a bit flat.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Playing Time: 65 minutes
Date of release: 2021-06-18
Place of origin: Germany
Standout track: Skyfall