Pumpkins United: Where Did Helloween’s Self-Titled Album Rank In Their Sprawling Back Catalogue?
Helloween is the self-titled 16th(!) studio album from legendary German power metallers HELLOWEEN. The album is the first released with the “Pumpkins United” line-up, which marked the return of both Kai Hansen (guitars/vocals) and Michael Kiske (vocals), in addition to the five-member line-up active since 2005.
But where does new album Helloween rank amidst such quality releases from this all-time classic band?
Fear not! We’ve re-assessed Helloween’s entire back catalogue and done the hard work for you. Read on!
Too much of a change…..
16. Chameleon (1993)
This black sheep of the Helloween family is renowned for being one of metal’s biggest disappointments and no re-evaluation here is going to remedy that!
The final recording to feature golden-era vocalist Michael Kiske until 2021’s Helloween, Chameleon may have been a (misguided) attempt to show another side to Helloween’s skills but it failed on almost every level. Excursions into pop, swing, glam and straight-up proggy weirdness were just too much of a departure from the surging power metal that made their name…..and fans were left angry and confused in return.
In its defence, Chameleon isn’t entirely unlistenable (“I Believe” and “Giants” have their metallic moments) but it just doesn’t sound like a Helloween album and is doomed to be remembered as nothing but a huge misfire. 4/10
Pink what do what?…..
15. Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
Here began the start of Helloween’s early 90s decline. Undoing the majority of goodwill and adulation earned via the releases of seminal classics Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I (1987) & Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II (1988), 1991’s ridiculously titled Pink Bubbles Go Ape was simply too silly (the less said about “Heavy Metal Hamsters” the better) and too neutered to follow such classic releases andHelloween’s core audience were left far from happy.
Pink Bubbles Go Ape appeared to court mainstream acceptance with the likes of the self-titled opener and the saccharine-sweet “Number One”, dropping the epic nature of prior compositions in favour of a more streamlined, radio-friendly, straight-up ‘heavy’ metal approach. Not without its moments – “Kids of the Century” had just enough chug to warrant more than just one spin – the majority of Pink Bubbles Go Ape simply lacked the bite of its predecessors and feels watered-down in comparison. 5/10
Only completists need apply…..
14. My God Given Right (2015)
Helloween’s most recent album failed to maintain the momentum gained with the release of the far superior Gambling With The Devil (2007) and 7 Sinners (2010) but still managed to provide a few snippets of superior power metal along the way; no more so than on the bombastically glorious one-two combo of opener “Heroes” and “Battle’s Won”, which kick-started My God Given Right on exactly the right note.
The satisfying chug of “Russian Roulé” maintained the energy but, overall, My God Given Right was home to way too much filler to warrant ‘must hear status’ and for a band with such a knack for soaring anthems, the issue here was a distinct lack of truly memorable songs.
While there was nothing inherently wrong with the material found on My God Given Right – it’s a pleasant enough listen – the distinct whiff of a band merely going through the motions is impossible to ignore. Hardly essential. 6/10
01. KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS II (10)
02. KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I (10)
03. WALLS OF JERICHO & EP (10)
04. HELLOWEEN (9.5)
05. THE TIME OF THE OATH (9.5)
06. GAMBLING WITH THE DEVIL (9)
07. THE DARK RIDE (8.5)
08. BETTER THAN RAW 8.5)
09. CHAMELEON (7.5)
10. THE LEGACY (7)
11. STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL (7)
12. SEVEN SINNERS (7)
13. RABBIT DON’T COME EASY (6.5)
14. PINK BUBBLES GO APE (6.5)
15. MASTER OF THE RINGS (6.5)
16. MY GOD-GIVEN RIGHT (6)
Thanks Marc! These things are always subjective and I can’t really argue with any of your placings – well, maybe Chameleon is a little too high haha