Helloween – Rabbit Don’t Come Easy
Rabbit Don’t Come Easy
The story of Deris-era Helloween seems to be one of gradual progression and subtle differences; they’re not quite recording the same album over and over again, but neither are they making any drastic changes to their fundamental sound. Keeping in step with this pattern, 2003’s Rabbit Don’t Come Easy (good golly THAT TITLE) deviates in only a few subtle ways (stylistically, anyway) from its predecessor, 2000’s The Dark Ride.
The atmosphere here is decidedly lighter; there are still dark songs – of course, even Helloween’s “happy” songs are often lyrically dark anyway – but it feels a bit more “agile,” for lack of a better word; if The Dark Ride is a looming monolith, Rabbit Don’t Come Easy is a stone skipping lightly across the water. This is due more to the production – which is rather crisp and tends to lean toward the treble side of things – than anything else, and for this reason I’ve always thought of this as Helloween’s “Finnish album;” as German as the songs themselves are, the production is much more reminiscent of the lighter vibe preferred by (seemingly) most Finnish power metal groups.
Other than that, things haven’t changed all that much from The Dark Ride. Mixed in with a few regular power metal tracks (including the absolutely phenomenal “Hell Was Made In Heaven”), we find a few strange and novel ideas hanging around. “Never Be A Star” and “Sun 4 The World” both feature slight eastern influences, and the latter boasts some of Helloween’s trippiest lyrics, recounting the story of an alien boy named Leif who 40,000,000 years ago was chosen to become the Sun in our solar system. The semi-epic closer, “Nothing To Say” (which is another great track, by the way) plays like something of a twisted classic-rock epic, with a surprisingly reggae-tinged pre-chorus and one of Andi Deris’ all-time best vocal performances. “Open Your Life,” the most obviously “Finnish” track here, features some wonderful keyboard work (courtesy of someone who is apparently listed nowhere for doing it) to save an otherwise unfortunate chorus.
In general, It is hard to say exactly how Rabbit Don’t Come Easy stacks up in comparison to Helloween’s other works. For the longest time I toyed with the idea of giving it a 4.5 out of 5, quite a high rating here at Black Wind, though I have given Helloween higher ratings. However, despite my personal love for the record, I’m not sure if I would be entirely justified in doing this. Certainly there is a unique charm to it – primarily in the bouncy production and the quirky vibe – but it isn’t quite a work of genius either. Here and there the listener finds that things are lacking in the details; it’s not as melodic as Helloween’s best records, the lyrics are inconsistent, and the ballad is one of their corniest. Overall, though, these are minor complaints; the same attention to detail reveals any number of wonderful nuggets – the savage riffing of “Liar,” the guitar/bass interplay of “Nothing To Say,” etc. – and this is quite often an exhilarating listen for those who don’t mind a bit of cheese with their rabbit.
Tom’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5