Album in Depth: Keeper of the Seven Keys, pt 2 by Helloween

Hi, I’m JotaKa. I’m a rocker by birth and grew listening to rock discs and long plays by the dozen. For those who do not know, this is Halloween month for mostly everyone in the internet. Seriously, it is: check it out to see I’m not lying. But here’s the catch: Halloween is a cultural thing from the United States, remounting to the pilgrim and the inquisition on the US. So, outside that small portion of North America, Halloween is not even acknowledged. So, of course, here in Brazil, it is reminded as a minor note.

But hey, everyone’s doing one, so why couldn’t I? Since I mostly update on Sunday and this Sunday is Halloween, I should do something special. What could be more special than if I got a shitty band I don’t like and do a review on their most awarded album to date? Unfortunately, I don’t have anything of Helloween (I’m not a fan of metal), so, back to the store I was where nothing is found and the bastard looks at me funny for wearing a t-shirt with a band in it. He directed me to two albums of Helloween: Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 and Chameleon. As I researched before, I was with the two sides of the Helloween prism on my hands: the very best and the very worst, so why not buy both? So, if I want to do an Album in Depth on this album in particular, a little background is as always required:

The year is 1988. Rain Man got three of the most coveted academy awards (best picture, director and lead actor) and Haley Joel Osmeth (you know, the kid who always get screwed in the end of movies) was born. Michael Jackson bought the Neverland ranch and Roy Orbison died of a heart attack, rest his soul. Doki Doki Panic is released in the US market as Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Sega Mega Drive started doing what Nintendon’t in Japan.

Helloween, a German power metal band, with already a released album, lost his singer, Kai Hansen, due to lack of talent (he couldn’t sing and play guitar at the same time… noob), so the rest of the band including him, Michael Weikath on the guitar, Markus Grosskopf on the bass and Ingo Schwichtenberg on the drums, the only one beside Kai who isn’t on the band today, started looking for a singer. So, they found Michael Kiske, an eighteen years old singer from a local band named III Prophecy, whatever the hell that could mean.

From the outside of this album, well, it fails to impress me. Although it’s probably the third best cover to be presented in the Album in Depth series, it’s a real generic power metal cover, reminding me of what I used to think a Rhapsody of Fire cover was, until I saw one. This album was supposed to be a double album with Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1, so, as the previous album was a cloaked guy magically making a key, this album depicts probably the same guy handing it over to a Werewolf hand. It’s cool in context, and maybe was really impressive in 1988, but today, it really mixes in not too well and seems generic. The elapsed time of the entire album is 44:40, which is a decent duration of any album, with the shortest song being 1:06 and the longest being the titular track and having a whopping 13:38. I, as a fan of prog rock as I am, am aware that the only two types of contemporary music that can pull off an thirteen minute song are Jazz and Prog Rock, so, be afraid, be very afraid.

This album didn’t get any award, with the only mention being to its 108th position on the Billboard’s 200, in North America. So, let’s get this over with: Keeper of the Seven Keys pt. 2 by Helloween.

1st track: “Invitation” – It’s not what I expected to hear from a power metal track… it’s not what anyone would expect to hear from a power metal album. Maybe I lucked out: maybe this is the only Helloween album that doesn’t suck through its skull with generic power metal. Maybe this will be a whimsical experience through an uncharted land! Although as lame as an elevator song, this tune does pretty much start a journey! Maybe this is a good start: the purest rock ‘n roll album Helloween produced. Hell, I’m actually looking forward to the rest of the album!

2nd track: “Eagle Fly Free” – Of course, I was eluding myself as the bland power metal rushes in at full speed. I can’t really say if by that time it was generic as I have conscience that Helloween helped forge what Power Metal was, but I got to admit that this song is pretty bland compared to most power metal tunes of the day. The drums working the same boring way as all power metal songs, with the repetitive guitar playing rapidly with some stupid effects and the high pitch singing that became a must have of power metal. The only thing I can deeply say of a good thing that this song presented was an incredibly quick paced drum solo, but other than that, this is a wake up song so that you can start running your day, and a bad one at it.

3rd track: “You Always Walk Alone” – Again, the songs are only showcasing the ability that the drummer Schwichtenberg has, while leaving the other aspects of the group on the dirt, as the singing remains the same, only this time more “headachy” and the boring guitars still being boring. Another compliment I have to address is that this song has a very broken harmony and rhythm, which makes it hard as hell for the drummer to keep on the mark, but he is really good and that shows off with a work like this.

4th track: “Rise and Fall” – Ok, this song will need a minor note about yours truly before moving on. Sometimes, the band tries to do a song that is just awesome fun to do and you can feel that they are having a blast doing it: it doesn’t have to be a comedic song; it has to be just a fun song. From the top of my head, I can think of Happy Trails of Van Halen’s Diver Down and If You Want Blood from Ac/Dc’s Highway to Hell. Definitely not their best of funniest songs but you can feel that ever present spirit of the fucking rock and roll. And whenever a band does that, I always enjoy. I can’t possibly blame a band for having too much fun, because they shoot there pearls while having a great time: and this song you can feel that. It has a different drum tempo, an guitar that don’t try to run over anything with an annoying solo, an enjoyable lyrics, somewhat of a cool vocals, an excellent back vocals from the rest of the band and a pretty interesting bass line that this album didn’t showed before. This song can possibly be the best piece of music I ever heard from a power metal band. However, it wasn’t a single.

5th track: “Dr. Stein” – The first of two singles of this album, and I can’t see why: outside of the best guitar solo this album had so far, it really isn’t anything special at all. It has an organ solo but it’s so downplayed that I can’t count as anything special: it seems as if they got anyone to keyboard the organ out. The lyrics are really well planned out and a very interesting to hear, but can only be comprehended with a lyric sheet as most of the vocals singing becomes noise. I didn’t get why the hell this song was special.

6th track: “We Got The Right” – It’s just generic power metal singing with generic slow power metal beat with a generic power metal lyrics. Maybe they started the genre, maybe they were influential, but by today standards, they seem subpar and ridiculous. It’s just annoying how after a really cool song as Rise and Fall they deliver such generic tracks with little to no material. This album is lacking some rock ‘n roll spirit as the drummer, this time around, gets really obfuscated by the lame vocals.

7th track: “March of Time” – The intro is deceiver, as it is possibly the best thing of this song: when the intro ends, the hardcore metal strikes at full speed, much to my sadness. The beat is kind of annoying, as the vocals are getting to the point that I can’t barely stand him. The song is generic as can be, again, with some minor points that can be seen as interesting points, however, the power metal technical and full effects guitar solo is so boring that it goes without saying that it tries really hard to ruin a already bad song. Just a minor pointer: the second estrofe is a total rip off of Billy Joel’s “My Life” from 52nd street.

8th track: “I Want Out” – This is the second and last single from this album and the only one that I had already known before, as Sonata Arctica did a cover. Comparing them both, although Sonata did a terrific job, Helloween gets the gold. The less high pitchy voice starts and gets really tolerable, as if it was the whole album sung this way, it would definitely be a better album. The lyrics are cool, the drum is kind of repetitive and they have some points of brilliancy. The only horrible thing this song has is the bridge, on which the melody breaks to a much slower pace and the vocals go back to their high pitch of usual. The rumors tell that this song was composed by Kai as he wanted to quit the band, but it sounds more like a break up song than anything.

9th track: “Keeper of the Seven Keys” – Here comes the beast. This song is pretty bipolar, and that ruins its flavor. It’s divided in four parts and they seem to be all misplaced. There are some verses that I swear that it sounds like a protest song and other verses that it sound like they don’t know what they are doing. There may be some reference to the other album, but then again, I couldn’t know. The first part is actually kind of enjoyable and the third part is awesome as hell, the second and fourth parts are just boring and repetitive. It really seems they just followed the Power Metal flow chart throughout this experience and didn’t have quite the payoff. It fails in three standards: as a good track, as a follow up track to I Want Out and in economic value, as it can’t be put on radios. This song actually had to be listened more times than the others, because I kept falling asleep during it, which can’t be good news for a power metal song. This song is the worst song of this album, and it is the title track.

10th track: “Save Us” – As I was searching, I figured that for whatever reason, this song isn’t on the original long play record but on my compact disc, it is included, so I’ll review it as pos-part of this album. After a depressing intro and a pretty painfully bland guitar riff, the annoying vocals start off. This may be the main argument when I say that my problem with power metal is the power drums, because this song has that toned down and it’s still a really bad song. There is a spoken part, but it sounds so misplaced this far in the album that it appears more as a gimmick than an actual idea. The song in itself is repetitive with the worst use of back vocalizing and the worse effects on vocal ever. The song is also bland for what the album presented so far, but I give that to the fact that it wasn’t originally part of this one.

So how does it all hold up? Well, as a power metal album, I can see how it revolutionized the style, since as a pioneer, it presented a lot of cool ideas that I don’t like, and by my vision, tires out already in this album. The best song of this album in my opinion was Rise and Fall and I believe it was a really cool track, and will be properly cherished in my library, but in midst of such stupid and bland songs, the song loses most of its meaning. The bad songs are incredibly bad, the vocal is so annoying you want to find Michael Kiske and throw a brick in his face, the drums have some nice moments but wear off and I counted one cool moment for guitars and one cool moment for the bass, which is not a good average for something trying to be some sort of rock music, which is the scenario. If you are a fan of the style and want to check out its roots, this is the way to go; if you are someone who enjoys great music and are searching for something a little better, this may not be the greater album. Here’s hoping to find a good Helloween album, as I do believe it must have some redeeming factor.

This is JotaKa, signing off.

Follow me on twitter @jotakapf

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One Response to Album in Depth: Keeper of the Seven Keys, pt 2 by Helloween

  1. Pingback: Album in Depth: Vivid by Living Colour | Jotaka's Studio

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