Helloween – Keeper Of The Seven Keys: Part II
The third studio album from German power metal legends Helloween, Keeper Of The Seven Keys: Part II may not have surpassed its predecessor (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I, obviously!) but it more than matched its illustrious counterpart in virtually every area!
“You Never Walk Alone” provided the ‘heavy’ while “Rise And Shine” served up the cheese, but it was the epic title track and singles “Dr Stein” and the ubiquitous “I Want Out” that elevated Keeper Of The Seven Keys: Part II into the enviable ranks of must-hear status.
Alongside Keeper Of The Seven Keys: Part I, this album has quite rightly gone down in history as a heavy metal/power metal classic, long since adored and acclaimed as an album ripe with virtuoso performances, knowing humour and the strongest sense of identity imaginable.
An album which can accurately be described as both indescribably silly and also undeniably intricate, Keeper Of The Seven Keys: Part II is utterly fearless music from one of metal/power metal’s most influential bands.
Candlemass – Ancient Dreams
An absurdly catchy ten-tonne riff kick-starts Ancient Dreams‘ opening track “Mirror, Mirror” and the listener is instantly bombarded with gloriously over-the-top doom metal performed by masters of the craft. And, if we’re talking masters of classic doom then we must be talking about Candlemass, a band that defines the genre like no other.
With lead singer Messiah Marcolin and his vibrato-laden operatic style now fully bedded in, his soaring vocals perfectly counterbalanced Leif Edling’s punishingly inventive, power-chord riffs; channelling Black Sabbath while simultaneously moving the doom metal into ever expansive realms.
Unafraid to incorporate choruses as big as an obscenely overweight blue fuckin’ whale, these were songs that climaxed in a crescendo of operatic noise, with not a single second wasted as Candlemass fully realised their distinctive, dark vision.
A doom metal classic, pure and simple.
Bathory – Blood Fire Death
Bathory‘s Blood Fire Death fully embodied the idea of attaining perfection while taking extreme metal to new heights on its release in 1988. Featuring tension filled orchestral arrangements which provided a thrilling contrast and unheard of depth to Quorthon’s banshee wail and rasping malevolence, Bathory’s crowning achievement completely changed the face of black metal in one stride.
Featuring high fidelity production, complex arrangements, melody(!), unparalleled atmosphere and a sense of scope and execution rarely heard in metal, Quorthon was already re-shaping the genre he single-handedly invented with Bathory, The Return….and Under The Sign Of Black Mark.
The sound of galloping roughshod into battle made flesh, this truly epic album is as revelatory today as it was 30 years ago; the work of a man who envisaged ‘bigger’ (in every sense of the word) things for black metal.