Various Artists The Keepers of Jericho: A Tribute to Helloween
Released: 2000, Arise
Preamble: I don’t usually review Tributes, Compilations, EP’s, Live releases, Cover tune CD’s or Greatest Hits CD’s. Most of them are a poorly done waste of time and of interest only to fans of that specific band and or label. These types of releases are also hard to review because while they may be very cool and or unique in their own right, let’s face it…nothing kicks ass quite like a new, full-length studio CD, with all new songs by an underground band! In addition a compilation can have so many artists it would take paragraphs to review each track individually! I feel that rating some of these lame contractual obligation CD’s a four or five doesn’t seem quite right, no matter how killer the tunes on the disc. However there are a few exceptions that pop up once in while and deserve a little notice.
Let’s set the record straight, most tribute CD’s suck. The point of a tribute is to honour a band. Automatically 65% of them are premature and useless. If the band is still active (and/or lame in the first place) do they need a tribute? No! Dwell, Cleopatra and Deadline all have produced many, many poorly done cash grab tributes, where bands pay to be on the CD. Another 30% of tributes are tolerable although occasionally flawed or misdirected. The big label tributes by Century Media (Priest, Dio) and by Nuclear Blast (Accept, Scorpions, ABBA) come to mind. There are exceptions to the “Most Tributes Suck” rule and these comprise the last 5% or about one in every twenty tributes produced. A few cool, underground labels have produced rare tributes worth buying (Savatage, Warlord, Queensryche) and this is one of them.
The small, yet well respected Spanish label, Arise Records has produced a very high quality tribute CD. My first suspicion was that it was too early for a Helloween tribute with the band itself still powerful and active. To me tributes indicate the band is past it’s prime and/or diminished in stature which we know is not he case or Helloween wouldn’t have been one of the top headliners at one of the world’s largest metal festivals last year or releasing a new kick-ass Double Best of this year.
However, the liner notes state that, “The legacy of Helloween has influenced hundreds of bands, some of them participate in this CD. We try to rescue the essence of the incredible years when Helloween reigned the European metal scene.” (sic) Accordingly the 13 tracks are taken from the “glory years” from the debut up to Keepers II. The bands on this CD one could argue are all directly influenced by Helloween.
The packaging is great, the cover has the purple-robed, blind seer, opening the gates and there are keys and pumpkins all over the place! Inside we get photos and the line-up of all 13 bands. The bands on this CD are stunning. We get Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica, Heaven’s Gate, Metalium, Luca Turilli, Morifade, Vision Divine, Brainstorm, Labyrinth, Cydonia, Squealer, Dark Moor and Secret Sphere. Wow!
Every track is a brilliant rendition each with it’s own little twist. Most of the versions stay fairly faithful to the original but since many of our readers know each of these classic ‘ween tunes note for note, the small changes and subtle differences are a true delight. My favorite is probably Brainstorm doing the B-side track, “Savage” although all of the original songs are so good it would be hard to ruin any of them.
Of the hundreds of Tributes out there this is one of the very few that I actually went out and paid for and am proud to have in my collection. You should seek it out.