This is my 666th review for Metal-Rules! To celebrate this metal milestone I’ve decided to review one of my all-time favorite bands, Helloween. I don’t give many perfect scores. In fact out I’ve only rated a couple dozen actual albums the five out of five on the site over the years…less than 4% of the album I\’ve reviewed. I’m very pleased to report the new Helloween, 7 SINNERS makes the top grade.
Helloween are very comfortable right now. They are back on a major label, the line-up has been stable for probably the longest stretch in the bands history about 6 years, and they have fallen into a great pattern of releasing a studio album every couple of years right around Halloween naturally. Relaxed, confident and mature the band have nothing to prove but instead of delivering a complacent record, the band have delivered the fastest, heaviest album of their career.
It’s their 26th release over and 13th full-length studio album of all-new, original material. Lucky #13 for the band sees a crowning achievement with 13 killer cuts spread across the hour. It looks and feels dark as well. The layout and packaging is dark and the band is looking pretty mean and crazy. No lyrics in the booklet! That’s an odd omission although the songs still have that patented, quirky, slightly incorrect English word-play in songs like ‘Raise The Noise’ and ‘You Stupid Mankind’.
The immediate highlight is the drumming of Dan Loble. The pre-release hype and interviews said he did a killer job and they were not exaggerating! Dan plays his (Metal) heart out and it shows. It’s not just all relentless double-kick but he has many interesting kick patterns, triplets and so on, really driving these heavy fast songs to a new level. I didn’t expect this kind of performance from him. He’s fantastic on every song.
Every song is a winner. Great production, great melodies and harmonies, a sense of humour to keep it light in places, crushing guitars, lots of solos, they really nailed it this time. There is a little nod to the past in the track, ‘Who Is Mr. Madman?’ which is a continuation of ‘Perfect Gentlemen’, back from the MASTER OF THE RINGS, complete with keyboard musical reference to the original song. Biff Byford is back for another round of narration as well. The band is not afraid to stretch musically with a blazing…flute solo?. Weird, but it works and it’s fun.
Helloween have delivered a masterpiece. It will quickly silence all the fans who couldn’t stomach UNARMED from earlier this year. It is an easy prediction to see this will be on many fans and writers Top 10 list for 2010.
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