Reviewed by: Tom Hirschboeck
“Happy happy Helloween, Helloween, Helloween!” sings the voice on the radio before Helloween kicks off their career with the classic opener “Starlight.” They would go on to write plenty more great material (and plenty of not-quite-as-great material), but they would always retain their unique charm, a peculiar blend of dark melodrama and lighthearted humor that endeared them to as many as it turned away.
Helloween (EP) (1985)
Helloween kicks off their career on the right foot with this rather short record. Their sound is not entirely developed, but their exuberance is undeniable.
Walls Of Jericho (1985)
Helloween is still a rather straightforward speed-metal group at this point, and this is quite possibly their most intense album start-to-finish. It’s by no means their best work, but it’s quite a bit of fun.
On the first Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Helloween combines the energy of their previous works with a much-developed sense of melody and composition to create something truly great.
As the title would imply, this is not too much different from the first Keeper, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with that; this is another excellent slice of top-grade metal.
Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
The dawn of the 1990s finds Helloween taking a simpler, more song-oriented approach to their sound, and ultimately doing a mediocre job of it. It’s not a terrible record, but it’s a huge regression for the band that had just recorded The Keeper Of The Seven Keys.
Helloween’s most controversial release, Chameleon finds the band at their most experimental. Some of the music here is quite good, but on the whole the record plays as a sort of identity crisis for the band; they try a lot of new things here and achieve decidedly mixed results.
Master Of The Rings (1994)
After releasing a couple weaker albums, Helloween returns with a changed lineup and a new niche in the metal world, out of the vanguard but at least relevant. Overall Master of the Rings is a good but imperfect record, showing the band getting back on its feet after a near-brush with dissolution and putting forth a valiant effort to regain its composure.
The Time Of The Oath (1996)
With The Time Of The Oath, Helloween complete their “comeback,” sounding fresh, creative, and confident. Looks like the lineup change did the group quite a bit of good.
Better Than Raw (1998)
While perhaps not quite as exuberant as The Time Of The Oath, Better Than Raw shows Helloween settling into the niche they still inhabit today, pumping out solid old-school power metal with the occasional twist.
The Dark Ride (2000)
In my opinion the masterpiece of Deris-era Helloween, this one sees the band going all sorts of places – familiar and unfamiliar – and doing an exceptional job of all of it. You’ll have to read the review to get the full scoop, but I’ll warn you; when Deris tells you to “dial 1-800-MR-TORTURE,” DON’T DO IT!
Rabbit Don’t Come Easy (2003)
Helloween’s 11th studio outing, Rabbit Don’t Come Easy sees the band still mixing around ideas in the context of good old-fashioned power metal, with often-impressive results.
The rather controversial third installment of the Keeper albums turns out to be quite impressive, though hampered by one pretty horrible track.
Gambling With The Devil (2007)
One of Helloween’s most accessible albums, Gambling With The Devil is both a great example of songwriting and a very poor example of album cohesion. I expect to catch a bit of flak for this one; feel free to discuss.
7 Sinners (2010)
Perhaps Helloween’s most aggressive album, 7 Sinners is simply a fun album to listen to. It features all Helloween trademarks, but plays them a bit louder and faster throughout.
Straight Out Of Hell (2013)
Straight Out Of Hell follows in the stylistic footsteps of the previous two records, but manages to break a bit of new ground with a few exceptional tracks. Overall it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but nevertheless enjoyable throughout.