Helloween - _7 Sinners_
(Sony Music / The End Records, 2010)
by: Aaron McKay (8.5 out of 10)
It is certainly refreshing to bear witness in these times whereby the old metal guard is stepping up and displaying for all to see -- they still have what it takes. Take Exodus for example. The titan that is Slayer, of course. Lizzy Borden's brilliant _Appointment With Death_ awhile back. The killer new Overkill, for shit's sake, and the awesomely resurrected, mightier than before, Forbidden! Now Helloween have added themselves stalwartly to that impressive list.

For more than a quarter of a century, these German metalers have offered some of the finest, most influential and trend-setting efforts known to humankind. _Walls of Jericho_ and _Keeper of the Seven Keys_, parts I and II, set a very provoking and interesting tone for the time. Taking this poignant extravaganza on the Pumpkin Fly Free tour in 1989, Helloween cemented themselves as a significant metal force with their showmanship, infectious riffs and creativity.

After dragging themselves back from the precipice of musical precariousness with 1993's _Chameleon_, the band must have come to the realization that they were casting their nets too far in searching for the illusive notion of success. Vocal duties fell to new member, Andi Deris of Pink Cream 69 notoriety, replacing Michael Kiske during 1994's _Master of the Rings_, in addition to new drummer, Uli Kusch.

_The Time of the Oath_ and _Better Than Raw_ followed in 1996 and 1998, respectively. The brilliant Faith No More cover "From Out of Nowhere" surfaced then Helloween's tribute album _Metal Jukebox_ in 1999. In 2000, _The Dark Ride_ was unveiled to an under-appreciative and mostly unreceptive fan base. Albeit a lighter direction from the downer that _TDR_ was perceived as being, _Rabbit Don't Come Easy_ fell short in the recognition of distinction category, as well.

_Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy_ in 2005, _Gambling With the Devil_ in 2007 and Best Of 25th Anniversary _Unarmed_ bring Helloween to their newest and awe-inspiring release, _7 Sinners_!

Helloween has earned their stripes and scars along the way. _7 Sinners_ may well provide the vehicle to move the band from simply noteworthy to impossible to ignore. This album showcases all the time tested talents of Helloween with incredible sound, power and delivery.

_7 Sinners_ unquestionably incorporates thirteen tracks of hard-hitting, powerfully metal riffage. A possible footnote being the first single, "Are You Metal?", while not a paint-by-numbers song, just maybe not the first choice release straight outta the gate. This is not to say "Are You Metal?" is overly formulaic, but it would qualify as the more orthodox initial semi radio-friendly track from the new effort. With that said, Halloween has at least a half dozen songs on _7 Sinners_ that would arguably have been a healthier selection to reintroduce fans worldwide to Helloween's richer more enticing sound, for example the first cut on the effort, the stellar punchy 'n' chunky "Where the Sinners Go", for example.

"Who Is Mr. Madman" flows with nice guitar texture and solid drumming. The fourth tack, "Raise the Noise", serves best as the conduit for the impressive material to follow. "World of Fantasy" layers nice guitar chops with interesting passages, throbbing bass and delicately utilized keyboards. "Long Live the King" takes fans on a faster paced wild ride underscoring Helloween's prowess and ability to take things to that next level.

Midway through, "The Smile of the Sun" simmers things down with subtle keyboards and provoking lyrics all woven through a tapestry of a well developed, richly played soundscape. The galloping drums and choppy guitars of "You Stupid Mankind" take center stage, easily enrapturing the listener in its infectious catchiness.

"If a Mountain Could Talk" pounds forth a saga set to Helloween's sonic, scenic intensity, serving up probably one of the more developed tracks on the album, "The Sage, the Fool, the Sinner". Enticing guitar passages worked into a raucously memorable lyrical chorus with a solo hard to beat on any of this band's back catalog.

The open vastness of "My Sacrifice" creates a immense audible sensation while coaxing the listener with imaginative guitar work. The cautionary spoken-word "Not Yet Today" sets the prospect of Helloween's final track on _7 Sinners_, the driving "Far in the Future". The longest song on the album, clocking in at over seven and half minutes, it is easily the most opulent and richly cultivated track brandishing absolutely every facet of Helloween's undeniable aptitude -- musically, lyrically and vocally; a quintessential closer.

Andi Deris, Michael Weikath, Sascha Gerstner, Markus Grosskopf and Dani Loble along with producer Charlie Bauerfeind at the engineering / mixing switch, Helloween may well have set forth a real blessing with their divinely devious new album _7 Sinners_. It'd be well-worth the crime if _7 Sinners_ is the punishment.

Contact: http://www.helloween.org

(article published 12/22/2010)


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