185: HELLOWEEN

Forming in Germany in the 80s, Helloween are icons of the European power metal scene who have proven, with unfettered talent and longevity, that there is still and insatiable demand for “true” heavy metal.

While elements of power metal were already coming together in Europe, Helloween’s second album, ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I’ released in 1987, is often considered an archetype for the subgenre and was highly influential to the development of the sound. It’s follow-up, 1988’s ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II’ saw even more critical acclaim, topping Greatest Power Metal Albums by both Metal Hammer and Loudwire.

It’s not difficult to see why there is so much acclaim for Helloween. Because what they do, they do flawlessly. They’re the best at it because they invented it. Wailing, iconic vocals, soaring synths, and breathtaking guitars – it’s all seemingly effortless. The songs create a dramatic and exciting atmosphere, and every album is so easy to get lost in.

Through 30+ years, as is common, Helloween have seen lineup changes. Original founder and guitarist, Kai Hansen – seen by many as one of the architects of power metal – left Helloween in 1989, going on to form and front another power metal giant, Gamma Ray. A few years later, original vocalist Michael Kiske also departed.

However, Helloween persevered, with the lineup changing as needed. Andi Deris was brought on as the new vocalist, and has fronted Helloween brilliantly ever since. The band continued on, releasing a further ten albums between 1994 and 2015.

But then, in 2016, something earth-shattering in the metal world happened – Pumpkins United.

Helloween’s Pumpkins United World Tour brought back original members Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske, while keeping the current lineup as well, and Kiske and Deris sharing vocal duties. Unsurprisingly, the tour was a huge success.

Last month, Helloween released their sixteenth album, a self-titled album with the Pumpkins United lineup. The album has been lauded by critics, who noted the chemistry between the two vocalists, and the benefits of adding Hansen’s third guitar to the existing pair. Most critics seem tho consider the new album to be one of the band’s best.

Somehow, even though we are talking about 37 year old band, playing a ‘dated’ genre of metal, the best time to be a fan of Helloween is right now.