Treasure Chest / Buried Treasure
Released: 2002, Sanctuary Records
Diehard fans: 2/5. Casual fans 5/5
I am an idiot! I bought this CD “best of” box set fully aware that, deep down, I probably wouldn’t like it. (Damn this compulsion to collect!) Well, I was correct. It is quite flawed but I feel the compelling need to review it anyway.
This review will be split into two parts, much like my rating. If you are a casual fan with not much Helloween in your collection, this 3 CD box-set is fantastic. It is extremely well done. Here’s a quick breakdown.
-Treasure Chest: 2 CD, 29 tracks, most re-mastered and 5 re-mixes.
The 18-page booklet has a family tree, over 90 photos, a discography, a four page essay and full credits. This disc is sold separately.
The box set includes
-Buried Treasures 1 CD, 11 tracks, a collection of B-sides from 1991-1999.
-a singles discography 1991-1999
-a nice Treasure Chest style box.
And most importantly the music is great! So if you are a casual fan who doesn’t have much Helloween this is an excellent way to explore their magnificent catalogue. All the hits are present and much more. This will be an excellent addition to your collection. Casual fans should stop reading now.
Still reading? You must be a die-hard fan like me. I’m going to outline the number of problems with this box set in detail, only because I care passionately about this band and I am quite disappointed.
Where to begin…When I review things I try to take several factors into consideration: production, packaging, musical performances, lyrics, and of course, most importantly songs. A box set is a little different creature. Because the songs usually have been previously released, the little extra things like packaging, presentation, and bonus tracks have much more weight in my reviews of box sets. There are in my mind two main thrusts of a box set. 1.) Introduce the band to new fans in a nice retrospective set. Fair enough. It succeeds on that level completely. 2.) A collectible for die-hard fans of the band. On this level it fails in many respects. Here’s why:
-There are lots of little mistakes in the packaging. Things left out of the discographies for example. Catalogue numbers, the Judas EP, etc…and the family tree is incomplete or at best inconsistent.
-Most of the photos are old. If you have the studio releases and Pumpkin box, you have most of the photos and the family tree already.
-The essay (a historical overview) is quite well done, but far too flattering and ignoring or glossing over many low points in their career. That is to be expected when the author is getting paid to write the essay! In the essay the author says this is essentially a 20th Anniversary box set but the packaging is marketing it as 1985 to 2002. Which is it? They contradict themselves. The only thing Helloween did in 2001 was a bit of touring and in 2002 they fired two members and went into hibernation.
-The track selection is weak. They have no representation at all from Juke Box, the Judas EP, the Karoake albums or either of the Live CD’s. That’s six releases…ignored! They only have one track from Chameleon and only one from Pink Bubbles but they have 5 tracks from Master of the Rings! Admittedly that was a huge comeback for them but they should have had a far more equal representation from their entire career.
-There is no logic behind the track sequence. It is not chronological, alphabetical or anything, it is all over the map. It is very schizophrenic listening experience from all the era’s of the band and their different sounds and different singers.
-The track list is quite pedestrian. Everyone has a favorite that will not be included but a large percentage of the tracks on the first two discs were already on the two previous compilations. How many times are we going to have another studio version of Future World? Can’t they dig a little deeper into the catalogue?
-Since 1991 Helloween have had over 25 (closer to 30) B-sides. We get 11 on the bonus disc. Why not make it a two-disc bonus set and put them all on?
- Helloween has had a consistent pattern of releasing a CD in Europe and Japan then having it come out a full year later in North America. In North America, when Master of The Rings came out (a full year late as usual) both the cassette and CD came with seven bonus tracks, namely B-sides from the album. Of course we get duplication of four of those tracks on the Buried Treasure disc leaving North America fans with what amounts to seven rare tracks (one of them being a drum solo and the other, a cover of Judas Priest’s Electric Eye, already having been released twice). Bottom line, five rare tracks. Disappointing to say the least.
-No lyrics, to anything, not even the B-sides.
-Finally, there is no unreleased material. None. Zero.
I know a lot of this commentary is over-analyzing or splitting hairs. However, that is the job of a reviewer—to provide critical analysis. If none of these minute details matter to you then this box set is great and I suppose, ultimately, that’s why I bought it. None of that little stuff really matters, it is just a minor annoyance to those of us who know better. It reflects a lack of quality control, or pride in the release. Sanctuary has a bad reputation for putting out inferior quality compilations, Live’s and Best of’s. Was it pure ignorance or calculated planning on Sanctuary’s part? You decide. Will we see another 20th Anniversary Best of from Sanctuary in 2005? Time will tell. Until that day, enjoy this box set!