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Old 07-29-2016, 02:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 2

Helloween's history lies within power metal, which has many different forms. Some gop for a mythological route while others go for a sci-fi route. Some sing of victories, and others sing of losses. Some are based upon riffs. Others on rhythm. However, Helloween does a little of all. But their real focus was meaning. This meaning and skill was found in the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, notably the second. Helloween is one of the most influential metal bands in the world for Michael Kiske's voice and for their obvious ability to rock out loud to the highest-caliber form of metal that's possible. Riffs, energy, poetry. That's the mark of a great metal band. They are POETS. Just like how Metallica is a group of poets that love their beautiful acoustic solos, Scorpions will often compare the love of women to heaven, and Black Sabbath will tackle any subject with great lyrical skill, Helloween is a form of fantasy and mythology in the form of power metal.

The album starts with an intro of choir singing, a tone setter for the mythological feel. These choir vocals show in the latter half of the second track, “Eagle Fly Free,” which carries a message of hope. A strange kind of message for the cheesy and angry tones of power metal, but beautiful and heavy at the same time nonetheless. Immediately after this song, a change of pace, slower but more guitar-based, starts “You Always Walk Alone.” The message is about the wiser path of life, almost Christian lyrically. This is the same kind of wording that Black Sabbath would use in their album, Master of Reality, being a warning of the darkness of the world. It is a less heavy song, even though it is clearly more driven by the numerous guitars. “Rise and Fall” ha a tone that is much more happy, even though it's heavy riffing and speed border on skate punk blended with speed metal. As goofy as the very end seems with it's two whistling notes, the beginning of “Dr. Stein” begins with the creepy sounds of a dungeon opening and a growling monster. Much of the lengthy solo is built upon various guitar tones and techniques. Overall, the album may be the most “metal” track on the album up to its point. “We Got the Right” is much more empowering. It also seems the most meaningful, musically, as it paces itself exceptionally well. In fact, it is so meaningful that the harmonized vocals in the end are lioke ma heavenly army against the evils of the world, singing of their victories.

“Save Us” comes next, carrying a scary sci-fi aura which turns into a plethora of heavy metal guitars akin to the raging attitudes of the great Motorhead. The vocals on this track are not only amazing, but they combine perfectly with the vocals to create a rebellious tone that mixes the Motorhead sound with Heloween's to create a unique feel. “March of Time” switches itself between slower and softer tones, but always carrying a very impressive and skillful level of metal. It carries the tone of the previous song well! The song “I Want Out” is interesting because Kiske uses his vocals in deeper ways on this track while the backing vocals softly fade into the song. The guitars are higher pitched and more rhythm-based instead of riff-based. Finally, the title track comes to end the album. “Keeper of the Seven Keys” starts with a mythological feel, soft and operatic. After a minute or so, it turns into a rocking, riffing tune that withholds its loudness and heaviness for later moments. Changing tempos and time signatures is not uncommon for this track. During the first chorus, the “choir” returns for a tone similar to arena love songs like “I'll Be There for You.” When the chorus finishes, the withheld metalness returns for another verse. Many different tempos are apparent as they all have very slightly different feels that never fail to bring the song's aura into themselves.

Overall, Helloween are one of the absolute defining bands of power metal because of this album. Their affinity for myth and for emotion allowed them to write creatively and skillfully with just about anything they wrote during their early days. I suppose Helloween is one of the most deserving metal bands to be recognized. Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 2 is a fantasy epic made of rhythms and riffs as well as victories and pain, religion and science, joy and depression. In fact, it's the album that got me into Helloween in the first place.

95/100
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