Archive for Helloween

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Helloween- Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2021 by 80smetalman

Back in 1987, there weren’t so many subgenres of heavy metal. Sure, there was glam metal and there was thrash. Anything in between was considered simply to be mainstream metal. While all these subdivisions normally send my head into a spin, in the case of Helloween and their album “Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I,” the term ‘power metal’ fits perfectly. Some called them thrash back then because they did play faster than mainstream metal bands such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. However, they weren’t in the same area as Slayer or Anthrax either. Plus, their image would have been more in line of what is considered the traditional heavy metal look. Therefore, I can say that this album was the first power metal album I listened to.

After short introductory opener in line with their previous album, “Walls of Jericho,” the album goes speeding through the next three tracks. The question of how new singer, Michael Kiske, would sound on the album is quickly answered. He was brought on board because Karl Hansen stepped away from vocal duties as he found it difficult to sing and play guitar at the same time. On a separate note, that explains why good shredders such as Dave Mustaine and Mille Petrozza demoted themselves to rhythm guitar. Anyway, those songs cast aside any worry that Kiske wouldn’t be up to the job as his vocals are just superb. Another positive from Karl stepping down from vocals is his being able to solely concentrate on guitar results in some great solos, especially on “Twilight of the Gods” where he and Michael Weikath do a cool guitar solo tradeoff.

Helloween must have recognized that we the listeners needed a short break after those opening songs as things slow right down for the ballad, “A Tale That Wasn’t Right.” It’s a decent power ballad but not totally mind blowing. The band do everything right here, vocals, bass line and a cool guitar solo but it doesn’t catapult it into greatness as far as great power ballads go. However, following “A Tale That Wasn’t Right” is the best song on the album, “Future World.” Lyrically, it sounds like a song for kid’s show and with some of the laser sound effects in the middle, it sounds like it even more. But with the great power chords and massive guitar solos, it is a phenomenal song.

What I hate about listening to the album on Youtube is the fact that the only the cut for video portion of “Halloween” is played. Therefore, eight minutes are cut from this thirteen minute long blockbuster. Fortunately, I have that full length version of this great song elsewhere, which makes up for it. Even though “Halloween” is so long in length, the constant changes in tempo and swirling guitar solos as well as the power chords make it no less interesting. The other good thing is that after such a long song, the album goes out very appropriately with a closer that is less than two minutes long.

Track Listing:

  1. Initiation
  2. I’m Alive
  3. A Little Time
  4. Twilight of the Gods
  5. A Tale That Wasn’t Right
  6. Future World
  7. Halloween
  8. Follow the Sign
Helloween

Michael Kiske- vocals

Karl Hansen- guitar, backing vocals

Michael Weikath- guitar, keyboards and backing vocals

Marcus Groskopf- bass, backing vocals

Ingo Schwichtenberg- drums

I figure that if “Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I” was my introduction to power metal, then I have had a great introduction. Thank you Helloween.

Next post: Black n Blue- Nasty Nasty

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Destruction- Mad Butcher

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2021 by 80smetalman

Thrash bands seemed to be coming out of every corner in 1987 but it seemed even more the case they were coming from what was then West Germany. Historical note: East and West Germany didn’t reunify until 1990. In any case, we had the likes of Helloween and my favourites, Kreator, and touring with the latter in that year was another German band called Destruction. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see them when they came to London, but I was treated to their 1987 EP, “Mad Butcher,” which offered some consolation.

Things begin with the title track which after a brief intro, goes full thrash. There are thrashing guitars and pounding bass and drums as Schmier sings or nearly screams, “The Butcher!” Then we have some guitar solos which sound like a trade off but according to Wikipedia, it is Harry Wilkens which does all the lead guitar work. It comes to an interesting end when the song appears cut off but then there is a little twist where the band plays the “Pink Panther” theme with a cool lead guitar accompanying it.

Next up is a cover of The Plasmatics classic, “The Damned.” While I am tempted here to do another “Original vs Cover” post with the song, I have to say that I still prefer the original over the cover. Saying that, Destruction don’t ruin the song, they pay Wendy and company fair homage with their version, especially with the solo from Wilkens and there is a nice little bass part before the song fades away.

Third is what has been called a thrash ballad with “Reject Emotions.” It starts with a ballad like acoustic intro but that doesn’t last long before it goes much heavier. Maybe another reason why it was dubbed a thrash ballad is that the song is slow enough for me to catch more of the lyrics, especially at the chorus. However, it also contains a rather long mosh part towards the middle of the song and opportunities for more lead guitar work. God, I am really beginning to appreciate Harry Wilkens as a lead guitarist. The song also makes up over one-third of the EP, clocking in at nearly seven minutes but those seven minutes do not drag.

Last up is the instrumental, “The Last Judgement” where Harry gets to showcase all of his guitar talents. I like how he combines acoustic elements with guitar solos and backs it up with a strong metal rhythm guitar. According to the blurb, Harry does all the guitar work here. However, it would be amiss of me not to point out the rhythm guitar work by Mike Sifringer on the other tracks. He does lay down a good rhythm which helps Harry do this thing.

Track Listing:

  1. Mad Butcher
  2. The Damned
  3. Reject Emotions
  4. The Last Judgement
Destruction

Schmier- bass, vocals

Harry Wilkens- lead guitar

Mike Sifringer- rhythm guitar

Oliver ‘Olli’ Kaiser- drums

Some say that because of their composition, Destruction was the German Slayer. I won’t go that far and after listening to “Mad Butcher” again, while I regret not seeing them in 1987, I would have hoped that Kreator was the headliner with Destruction as support but that’s must my personal preference. “Mad Butcher” is still a cool EP.

Next post: Vow Wow- V

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