Helloween – Pink Bubbles Go Ape
Pink Bubbles Go Ape
The consecutive releases of the two Keeper Of The Sevn Keys, arguably two of the most important (and best) albums in power metal, gave Helloween a privileged place on top of the metal world. The revolution that had begun with the likes of Rainbow, Iron Maiden, and Malmsteen had been brought to fruition by Helloween, and power metal as we know it today had been born. Unfortunately, all revolutions must necessarily set the stage for their own demise, and Helloween’s reign would be relatively short-lived.
This brings us to Pink Bubbles Go Ape. While it is not a horrible album by any stretch, it marks a significant step down in the quality of Helloween’s music. There are a bunch of decent songs here, assembled in a decent album with decent (though rather silly) artwork, and herein lies my disappointment; Hellowen’s defining characteristic had always been the epic scope of their musical vision, their ability to write music that was sometimes strange, sometimes goofy, but always powerful, and here they appeared to have lost it. The music here isn’t bad, but it’s a big regression for such a visionary group.
On something of a side note, this record marks a dramatic change in the structure of Helloween’s albums. Both Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums function as whole works. Not only are all the songs good, but they build on the strength of the other songs; the coda at the end of “March Of Time” is so powerful because the band has been building momentum not only from the beginning of the song, but from the beginning of the album. Helloween has never been a fully album-focused group, but they have occasionally played with the concept album (or more realistically, the quasi-concept album), with excellent results. This is not to say that song-focused albums are worse than conceptual albums – some of Helloween’s greatest albums would fall decidedly on the song-based side of the fence – but in order to work, they need to have consistently good songwriting and maintain some semblance of momentum throughout. At this point, Helloween hadn’t quite mastered this, and so Pink Bubbles drags itself along, starting itself over at the beginning of each new song and ultimately lying down in defeat after its 44-minute duration.
Really, though, it’s not that bad. There are a number of good tunes on here, and nothing stands out as particularly horrible. “Kids Of The Century,” the first proper song on here, is a rather brilliant tune (featuring one of my favorite Helloween riffs) that could have fit well on either of the first two Keepers. “Heavy Metal Hamsters” is a catchy number showcasing both the band’s sense of humor as well as their affinity for strange allegory. “The Chance” is another strong selection affirming the “you-can-do-it” sort of attitude that Helloween seems to like. The diehard fan willing to fork over the extra cash for the deluxe edition will be treated to a couple more strong tracks, these being a cover of Carl Perkins’ classic “Blue Suede Shoes,” a couple of neat originals (“You Run With The Pack” and the excellent “Shit And Lobster”), and “Les Hambourgeois Walkways,” a tribute of sorts to Gary Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways.”
If anything, though, the quality of the bonus tracks just highlights the unfortunate fact of the band’s having taken too few risks on the actual record. Helloween’s career up to this point was built on innovation, and for them to release an album as generic as this is as perplexing as it is disappointing. Again, Pink Bubbles Go Ape was not a horrible record; it was simply a bland offering by a band that had done much better.
Tom’s Rating: 2 out of 5