Released: 2007, SPV
One of power metal's longest running and most respected bands, Helloween, have unleashed their newest album GAMBLING WITH THE DEVIL. With the 2-CD KEEPER Pt.3 album and double live DVD set from last year, the band has been doing a great job in keeping their fans' attention. How much you like their new output, will be no gamble, it depends entirely on what your opinion is of Helloween's recent discography. What we have here is a mixture of DARK RIDE, RABBIT DON'T COME EASY, and the KEEPER PT.3 albums. So yes, it's more of the same with no surprises, but that also means it's more of the same high-quality and memorable metal that we expect. That they accomplish this without sounding tired and overly repetitive is a feat in and of itself!
One of the greatest things about this album is that the band has maintained their heaviness and speed. Too many of the bigger names in this style have slowed down. So for my tastes, faster is usually better. I do like some slow songs, but when an album has more slow and mid-tempo material that fast songs, it's no longer something that hold my attention.
After the typical 'press the skip button after one listen' intro "Crack The Riddle" the album begins. Just a minor complaint here, the voice of Saxon, Biff Byford, provides the spoken narration for the intro and while that is cool, what would of been infinitely cooler would of been hearing Biff and Helloween vocalist Andi Deris shooting some lines back and forth and singing a chorus in unison. The opening track "Kill It" is one of the heaviest on the album. Andi sounds a bit different in a few places on here and angrier than usual. He also sings some very high parts...great stuff! "The Saints" is a little more typical with a memorable and melodic chorus in contrast to the near barked and un-melodic chorus for "Kill It". "As Long As I Fall" sounds like a single release along the lines of another accessible Helloween song like "I Can" or “If I Could Fly”. "As Long As I Fall" begins with piano and Andi singing before the rest of the band comes in. It wastes no time in getting to the overly catchy chorus by 30 seconds in. If radio played any good new music, this song could be all over it. Some minor hints of Kamelot can be heard in a few places on this song. My current favorite track on here is "Paint A New World" which in the riffing dept has some very aggressive thrashy playing. If the entire album were of this caliber, this would of been a 5/5 for sure. "The Bells Of The Seven Hells" has some of the same aggression, especially on the thrashy opening riff that sounds different for the weenies. "Can Do It" is the only weak link of the album for sure with the silly-happy Helloween that I've never been much into. “Dreambound” is a very classic sounding slice of Helloween pumpkin pie with the doubled guitars played in that traditional way of their signature sound.
The bottom line here is, if you are a fan of Andi-era of Helloween, you will love this due to the perfect mix of their recent outputs. It's always great to hear an originator of a musical genre still firing on all cylinders and Helloween still have plenty to offer!