With 16 studio albums to choose from (we haven’t included Metal Jukebox or Unarmed in this), whittling down the 5 essential albums from these power metal legends wasn’t easy. But we soldiered on regardless and here’s our pick of the 5 essential HELLOWEEN albums….
Walls Of Jericho (1985)
Rewind the clock back to 1985 and Helloween’s full length debut, Walls Of Jericho, was a speed metal phenomenon. Far from the power metal colossus they would eventually become, a Kai Hansen fronted Helloween was a far more feral beast, one capable of complex and crazed compositions such as “Ride The Sky” and “How Many Tears” as well as blasting out speed metal symphony’s.
Barely able to contain their own unbridled energy from spoiling over into chaos, Helloween were very much in their infancy at this stage in their career…. but it’s that unspoiled, unshackled passion which makes Walls Of Jericho so damn appealing over 35 years on.
A mind-blowing release from a band who would transform into an entirely different unit just 2 years later!
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I (1987)
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I formed part of a double-header which single-handedly created the genre of European-style power metal and its status as an undisputed 80’s metal classic is set in stone.
Heralding the arrival of 18 year old vocalist Michael Kiske, Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I was a veritable tour de force of ultra-melodic yet expansive and frenetic heavy metal the likes of which the world had never seen (or heard) before.
From the joyous sounds of “I’m Alive” to all time Euro-power classic “Future World”, Helloween were overflowing with confidence and ability (in particular, Michael Weikath and Kai Hansen were an electrifying guitar duo) and there’s no denying that “Halloween” remains Helloween’s pièce de résistance; an ambitious, extravagant 14 min epic that allowed the band to explore every facet of their astonishing sound.
A power metal powerhouse had emerged!
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II (1988)
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II remains a genre milestone and every – and we mean every – power metal album that followed in its wake owes this ground-breaking album a monumental debt!
A fitting showcase for European power metal in all its soaring, uplifting, bombastic glory, Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II is home to an embarrassment of riches, with the legendary likes of “Eagle Fly Free”, “Dr. Stein” and “I Want Out” blossoming into eternal classics that the band themselves have never bettered (never mind the legions of bands that have attempted to encapsulate this lightning-in-a-bottle moment over the preceding decades).
Pure operatic theatricality set to Michael Kiske’s vibrant and vivacious vocals, Ingo Schwichtenberg’s explosive percussion and the neo-classical nature of Kai Hansen and Michael Weikath’s endless array of searing riffs, Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II invented ‘modern’ power metal in all its guises and the anthemic, absurdly catchy nature of its thrilling compositions galvanised a scene that didn’t know it needed galvanising.
The Time Of The Oath (1996)
An undisputed classic, 1996’s The Time Of The Oath picked up where 1994’s Master Of The Rings left off, slapped a concept on it (the prophecies of Nostradamus, in case you were wondering) and delivered a supreme set of Euro-power songs in the process.
While rarely straying from the path they themselves carved, The Time of the Oath simply finessed Helloween’s own recognisable high-speed, quasi-thrash riffs, glorious harmonies and caterwauling vocals and hit the mother of home-runs.
From the thunder, chug and atmosphere of the title track to the intensity of “We Burn” and on to the chest-beating Euro-power balladry of the self-explanatory “Power”; The Time Of The Oath had it all!
Gambling With The Devil (2007)
As good a ‘modern’ Helloween album as you’d care to encounter, 2007’s Gambling With the Devil found the band letting rip with a cavalcade of aggressive, fast-paced power metal anthems. “Kill It” may well be the ‘heaviest’ song in Helloween’s arsenal and latter-day classic “Paint A New World” and “The Bells Of The 7 Hells” didn’t lag far behind.
The key to Gambling With The Devil’s success lay in its relatively stripped-back approach and, with no concept to concentrate on, Helloween delivered their darkest, heaviest collection of songs since 2000’s aptly titled, The Dark Ride.
Super-fast, ultra-heavy and packed to the rafters with modern metal bangers, Gambling With The Devil is the finest Andi Deris fronted album….and, 16 years on, it still packs a considerable power metal punch!
Walls Of Jericho (1985) / Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I (1987) / Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II (1988) / Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991) / Chameleon (1993) / Master of the Rings (1994) / The Time of the Oath (1996) / Better Than Raw (1998) / The Dark Ride (2000) / Rabbit Don’t Come Easy (2003) / Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy (2005) / Gambling With The Devil (2007) / 7 Sinners (2010) / Straight Out of Hell (2013) / My God-Given Right (2015) / Helloween (2021)
These lists are always contentious, so if we’ve left out your favourite Helloween album, pop it (or them) in the comments below….