Helloween – Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part II
Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part II
As dawn broke on 1988, Helloween was on top of the metal world. With the first installment of Keeper Of The Seven Keys still hot off the press, they were shortly to release their second consecutive masterpiece, appropriately entitled Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part II. Granted, the Keeper albums were originally written to be released as a double-album, but if anything this only speaks to the brilliance of Helloween; they had enough good material to assemble a massive, double-disc musical journey and the genius to make it all work, or rather to make it work flawlessly and look too dang easy.
As with the first Keeper, the songwriting is superb. Being the album purist that I am, I wasn’t planning on going into much detail on individual songs, especially considering the consistent strength of the songwriting. However, due to reader request I will make a few mentions. First of all, “Eagle Fly Free” is truly a classic song, and with good reason. Featuring fast but not overdone solos for guitar, bass, and drums, lyrics that are at once meaningful and fun, and an absolutely immortal chorus, it is arguably Helloween’s defining song, and perhaps that of the genre. Equally brilliant is “We Got The Right,” an absolutely heroic call-to-arms played a bit slower than the other tracks but with every bit as much passion and intensity. Thirdly, as any self-respecting power metal fan would, I’m going to have to mention the epic. The title track for the whole double album, “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” is an immense fourteen-minute journey through some great final battle culminating in the destruction of Satan and subsequent victory of light. The amount of material present is incredible, and the band weaves it together with an incredible sense of composition.
As you may have guessed, this is a concept album, continuing the story that began in the first Keeper. It should be noted that it is never actually clear as to what is going on; we get vague hints here and there, but in general there seems to be more randomness than actual storyline. Nevertheless, I believe this to be very cohesive as a complete work. Really, (goofy as this may sound) it’s as much a social commentary as it is a story. For example, we can either look at “Dr. Stein” as a silly song irrelevant to our hero’s (rather vague) quest, or we can look at it as part of a commentary; what does it mean to say that Dr. Stein makes great politicians? or great rock musicians? – the point being that these are left open-ended, so we can get out of it what we put in. If you approach it with an open mind, Keeper Of The Seven Keys has a bit of everything: storytelling, philosophy, and a generous helping of humor for good measure.
Like most great albums, the second Keeper makes some demands of the listener. Not only does it reveal itself slowly (I was rather underwhelmed on first listen), but it requires one to be in a certain state of mind in order to appreciate it. Helloween’s signature aesthetic, a strange mix of thoughtfulness and silliness, is here in full force. The listener must be prepared for a seemingly incongruent experience, at least until it all begins to come together. Once it does, though, it becomes apparent that the second Keeper is not only another epic victory for Helloween, but another consecutive masterwork. Their full potential having been realized on the previous record, they simply continued to create brilliant music, and we have here the product of their continued brilliance.
Tom’s Rating: 4.75 out of 5