Helloween – Straight Out Of Hell
Straight Out Of Hell
Written by Tom Hirschboeck
Well, the Happy Happy Hamburgers are back, and they’ve done it again! Those of you who have been keeping up with their last couple records (Gambling With The Devil, 2008; 7 Sinners, 2010) will know more or less what to expect stylistically, but I’m here to tell you a bit about their latest offering, Straight Out Of Hell. I’ll give you a moment to let that title sink in.
If you gave a little grimace, be assured that you’re not alone. I myself experienced the same apprehension upon the unveiling of the title, an apprehension that only increased with the revelation of the truly terrifying artwork and the fact that the album was to contain a song entitled “Asshole” (truth be told, a fun little track if you don’t mind a little* cussing).
Yet this apprehension was blown out of the water with “Nabatea,” an impressive opener with sufficient power to detail the fall of a civilization in seven minutes, something I haven’t heard attempted since Virgin Steele’s “Kingdom Of The Fearless,” and something Helloween pulls off rather well. They seem to specialize in this sort of mini-epic, and I’d readily list “Nabatea” among the best songs of their career.
It is to my slight disappointment, then, that we’re not treated to anything this ambitious for the rest of the album, but there is nevertheless a fair bit of worthwhile music here. “Burning Sun” and “Straight Out Of Hell” burn and soar with pure power metal fury and finnesse, while the odd “Wanna Be God” (a tribute to Freddie Mercury, I guess) mixes things up a bit in the middle. All wackiness aside, however, this is a record that revolves around destruction; whereas Gambling With The Devil, for example, featured a fitting contrast between triumph and loss, Straight Out of Hell instead seems intent to simply ravage everything in its path; an ancient civilization with “Nabatea,” organized religion with “Church Breaks Down,” any notion of civility with “Asshole,” and pretty much all of us with “World Of War.”
Yet in classic Helloween fashion, it gives us some reason to hope; as Andi Deris proclaims, “Far from the stars/there may be a higher being we may not yet see/far from the stars/a better life could wait for me.” Helloween remains too goofy to put together a really dark album, and there’s something to be said for the playfulness this lends their music, as well as the honest message of hope conveyed. (Pick up the deluxe edition for “Another Shot Of Life;” a little party after the storm?)
Anyway, while Straight Out Of Hell may not be terribly unique in Helloween’s discography, it comes as a respectable addition to their catalogue, and although it’s not their most consistent, fans should find it consistently enjoyable, not to mention occasionally brilliant.
3.5 // 5
*Okay, a lot.