For a HELLOWEEN album, “Master Of The Rings” is just to damn happy, as if they weren’t sweet enough already. I am a big fan of this band, I love their music, especially the old albums from the eighties but this one I could do without. I mean the band has written some less memorable songs during the years but this one contains too many, the obvious truth is that HELLOWEEN has never been the same since Kai Hansen left.
Anyway, this is the first album with powerhouse drummer Uli Kusch and Andi Deris (ex PINK CREAM 69 singer); Deris is not the one at fault here, he does a good job with his light and cheerful voice. In all honesty, I think this album sounds way too light and happy, there’s no punch, it’s downright irritating, for me anyway.
The album’s first half is pretty good with songs like “Sole Survivor”, “Where The Rain Grows” and “Why” demonstrating the band’s run of the mill tradition of Happy Melodic Power Metal with catchy choruses. The second half has bad songs, one too many; listening to a song like “Perfect Gentleman” makes me want to laugh with its crappy lyrics. “The Game Is On” contains some very dull keyboard effects, “Take Me Home” has no impact with its Power Rock pacing and “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat” shows they haven’t learned how to compose a decent ballad.
The guys play their instruments with brilliance, I really like the way Kusch pounds his drums. The rest is rock hard routine with flawless instrumentation from Weikath, Grapow and veteran bass player Markus Grosskopf.
I enjoy some of the songs, it’s not all bad but the German happy Metallers could have done a much better album if they wanted to. This is not a hungry HELLOWEEN but listen to “The Time Of The Oath”, “Better Than Raw” or “The Dark Ride” and you’ll see why they didn’t continue on this course. (Online August 20, 2004)