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Helloween - Gambling With The Devil (7/10) - Germany - 2007

Genre: Heavy Metal / Power Metal
Label: Steamhammer
Playing time: 58:03
Band homepage: Helloween

Tracklist:

  1. Crack The Riddle
  2. Kill It
  3. The Saints
  4. As Long As I Fall
  5. Paint A New World
  6. Final Fortune
  7. The Bells Of The 7 Hells
  8. Fallen To Pieces
  9. I.M.E.
  10. Can Do It
  11. Dreambound
  12. Heaven Tells No Lies
Helloween - Gambling With The Devil

Cast your mind back to the late 80’s when HELLOWEEN was the Metal dogs bollocks. Rampant on the success of both "Keepers…" albums their stock had never been higher. Critical acclaim blossomed and without a shadow of a doubt they invented the genre known as Power Metal. Live, they could handle themselves more than competently and even with the ludicrous flying pumpkin moniker HELLOWEEN where easily as big as IRON MAIDEN, a band they had worked so earnestly in shadowing. And then it went totally wrong and Metal witnessed one of the great falls. They followed the magic and brilliance of ‘’Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II’’ with the frankly shit ‘’Pink Bubbles Go Ape’’. That album was followed by a ‘’Best Of Album’’ then the Pop crossover banality of the awful ‘’Chameleon’’ arrived to much smirking and condescension. HELLOWEEN had lost their way, lost their prime driving force in guitarist Kai Hansen and lost their singer Michael Kiske.

 

Come 1994 the band re-grouped, and with Andi Deris taking the helm, HELLOWEEN bounced back with the well received ‘’Master Of The Rings’’ and 1996’s excellent ‘’The Time Of The Oath’’. Subsequent albums have resurrected a career thought lost but the success of the 80’s has never been repeated, and to many, the release in 2005 of ‘’Keeper Of The Seven Keys – The Legacy’’ was HELLOWEEN falling back into old habits; re-hashing an idea that brought them fame and fortune.

 

So what with their seventeenth release ‘’Gambling With The Devil’’ has the quirky, irreverent pumpkin flyers still got the knack, the classic sound and the bite? Yeah they do and for what seems an age HELLOWEEN is back with cascading solo runs, thundering drums, insanely catchy hooks and choruses. It’s not a total recovery but not since ’94 have I wanted to listen to a HELLOWEEN album over and over.

 

SAXON’S Biff Byford makes an appearance for opener ‘’Crack The Riddle’’ and from then on HELLOWEEN pull out all the tricks. ‘’Kill It’’ is prime time HELLOWEEN. It’s heavy, punchy and energetic with that requisite HELLOWEEN quirkiness. ‘’The Saints’’ is a great pedal to the Metal number giving the band time to batter down the hatches. ‘’As Long As I Falls’’ is a touch to Poppy and certainly takes the sting out of a robust opening couple of tracks. However normal service resumes with the fury of ‘’Paint A New World’’. It’s evident that there’s a big change in here and that’s the voice of Deris. It comes across a more controlled and more commanding and thus adding more force and persona to the proceedings. ‘’Final Fortune’’ is again on the light side but the shadow of the ‘’The Bells Of Seven Hells’’ is a ball buster echoing times gone by. The Euro Melodic Metal shine of ‘’Fallen To Pieces’’ again shows a slight dip but ‘’I.M.E’’ Rocks. The guitars drive a basically simple song but finished with that HELLOWEEN sound. ‘’Can Do It’’ is up-tempo but fails to instigate much excitement. Whereas it’s all hallelujah and much rejoicing as ‘’Dreambound’’ and ‘’Heaven Tells No Lies’’ usher in that classic ‘’Keepers…’’ sound. It’s all fired up solos, hammering drums, wailing vocals but it’s what HELLOWEEN can do and do best.

 

Therefore a huge return to form and it’s time praise HELLOWEEN for an album that could rescue a career. And not for the first time!

(Online November 2, 2007)

Chris Doran



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