Title: “Unarmed: Best Of 25th Anniversary”
Label: The End Records
Release Date: 3/30/2010
Genre: Power Metal
Wow, where do I even begin with this one? OK – to make a long story short, Helloween is celebrating their 25th Anniversary and this new album “Unarmed” is their “gift to fans” for all the years of support. It features twelve of their greatest numbers and delivers them in what can best be described as an “un-Metal” fashion. Yes you are reading that correctly for the band too these classics and reworked and stripped down the songs and as result appeared to remove every ounce of the Power Metal “oomph” that made them classics to us in the first place. I was shocked because while I consider myself to be one of the more open minded fans of this genre, as each track passed me by I was left with a sense of surprise and awe and not in a good way. I know the band wanted to give us something that we would never forget and I think that there will be no problem in this since they included a saxophone, pianos, a large orchestra and Gregorian singers. How different is this album? Well, I am glad you asked and here are some of its high and low points.
Continue reading “Unarmed: Best Of 25th Anniversary” by Helloween
The pairing of Helloween and Gamma Ray was nothing less than a dream come true for many of the Power Metal fans of the world and when the “Hellish Rock” tour hit NYC we were there to document it. So far, September had been one of the craziest months we ever experienced in the role of Metal Media guy but we were still happy to be able to present our views and images of the fun with the worldwide PiercingMetal.com readership. We shot photos of both groups at some length and those who wish to learn more about it need only click the logo below to be brought to the item on the main website.
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Gamma Ray
Label: SPV Records
The concerts to attend on my planning schedule had already been rather fruitful with interesting appearances from the legendary Carcass who brought a bevy of supporting acts with them, all the way through show featuring Trouble, Opeth and the mighty Motorhead which was actually only last night for me. Yet despite the roster of things already done and being worked out for the Metal legions to enjoy – the very premise of both Gamma Ray and Helloween touring together on the same package was enough to make you tremble in your leather jacket even if we were still dealing with the warmer weather that would find such things in our closets for the next few weeks. They called this event “The Hellish Rock Tour” and it would thankfully feature no other openers and only be the two main bands. I say it like this based on the wide assortment of opening talent that I had absorbed over the past couple of weeks and since the longer the show the more exhausting it can be, I was happy to just see the pair of killer Power Metal acts taking the stage. Plus, with no openers to speak of this would mean a much longer set for each of the bands and one cannot go wrong with that. The show once again would be something that took place at B.B. King Blues Club and the venue was jam packed from the moment that I walked inside the place. I won’t lie when I say that I loved seeing that many Metal heads gathered together for the cause. Here is how the very exciting event took place if you were one of the few Metal heads that seemed to miss out.
Continue reading Helloween & Gamma Ray @ B.B. King Blues Club (9/21/2008)
Artist: Nuclear Blast All-Stars
Title: “Nuclear Blast 20th Anniversary: Into The Light”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 6/19/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Leave it to Nuclear Blast Records to start off their 20th Anniversary Celebration with a bang like no other and release a thundering CD of music featuring some of their best talent under the Nom de guerre of “Nuclear Blast All-Stars”. All of the music on the album was the result of Metal Mastermind Victor Smolski, that guitar virtuoso from the one and only Rage and with the exception of one track, all lyrics have been penned by Peter Wagner who sings and plays bass in that same band. If this fact didn’t pique your interest then perhaps knowing that all of the tunes feature different singers will do the trick. The CD features rotating vocalists who either are currently part of the labels roster or were at one time in their career. So as a result we find everyone from Tobias Sammet (Ed Guy) to Tarja Tarunen (Nightwish) contributing vocals and it continues to get interesting as you listen to each song. Rather than find this as another Rage album given its creators, the songs seem to have been tailored to the specific vocalist so the song that Tobias sings “On Dirty Wings” could have very well been an Ed Guy contribution. This continues along when it gets to what Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica sings as it really comes across as something new by that band and while Kakko himself says he does not feel this way in the liner notes, I will have to disagree with him. Such is the ability of Smolski to craft interesting Metal that he seems to have approached this with relative ease. It’s a great listen as each offering brings to the table different levels of solid riffing and interesting vocals. It’s heavy all around and should be since this is a Metal celebration but some artists come up the heavier than the others such as when Marcel from Destruction performs, and also Wagner from Rage who gets his own tune. It was great to find Andi Deris from Helloween present and also the members of Nightwish but I admit that while I love Tarja’s voice her song didn’t do anything for me. There is also some vocal talent who many of the Metal legions should be following more and I am speaking of Mats Leven formerly of Therion and Oddleif Stensland of Communic. These two continually impress me and I am looking forward to their future contributions. The drumming on most of the album comes care of Andre Hilgers who is also a member of Rage. Victor, Peavey, Andre and everyone else you did a great job on this one.
The release also serves as a reminder of just how powerful the labels artist roster is and not only does it come from these new Smolski compositions but also from the music featured on the included bonus CD. There is some great stuff here and many of the songs have never been released before. Pay particular attention to new label signings such as After Forever and Threshold for they are set to explode with their latest albums. From beginning to end this rocks and is a fine way to start the celebration of the label’s launch. I have enjoyed so much of their output over the last couple of years and many of their bands have become personal favorites. It is based on this that I raise the high hails to the next decade to come.
Bonus CD: Hammerfall – Hearts On Fire, Helloween – The Madness Of The Crowds, Gotthard – El Traidor, After Forever – Sweet Enclosure, Ride The Sky – New Protection, Thunderstone – Forevermore, Threshold – Slipstream, Amorphis – The Smoke, Candlemass – Devil Seed, Sirenia – The Other Side.
1. Dirty Wings (Tobias Sammet)
2. Terrified (Peter Wagner)
3. Ruling The World (Tony Kakko)
4. Death Is Alive (Mats Leven)
5. Bloodsucker (Marcel Schirmer)
6. Slaves To The Desert (Hansi Kursch)
7. A Perfect Day (Andi Deris)
8. Eternally (Oddleif Stensland)
9. Inner Sanctuary (Marco Hietala)
10. In The Picture (Tarja Turunen)
Official Website: www.nuclearblastusa.com
Official Website: www.victorsmolski.de
Title: “Keeper Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy – World Tour 05/06 Live In Sao Paulo”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 2/20/2007
Genre: Power Metal
Once you bypass the rather deceiving title of “Live In Sao Paolo” and realize that you are actually getting a film from three continents, the viewer gets a rousing live concert from the one and only Helloween. It captures the band during the tour that supported their most recent studio album “Keeper Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy”. While it is true that we have seen the band with numerous lineup changes over the years the viewer of this DVD will find the band is still sounding fresh, exciting and true masters of the Power Metal genre – a musical style that the original lineup of the group actually helped to launch so many years ago. If you heard the studio album for which the tour comes from you will remember that it found the legendary group returning to a purer form of the genre as opposed to experimentation and changing the style around. As you can see the concert set list is loaded with their classics numbers such as “I Want Out” and “Future World”, and while Michael Kiske will always remain a favorite among the bands original fan base there is no knocking Andy Deris for his killer performance across all the material in this film. Given the historic nature of many of the older Helloween tunes and their being regarded as classic anthems for Metal I am happy to report that Mr. Deris does really well on them and blasts through them without any difficulty. Since the new album was the focus of their tour we see that the band touches upon “TKOTSK3: The Legacy” and of the songs represented from this album, “The King For A 1000 Years” is perhaps one of the best. The DVD opens with this number and it is a blazing number that literally will bring the viewer into the mix as far as audience participation goes. It is during shows like these at countries such as Brazil that have me complimenting the people in the audience because these folks really appreciate their Metal. It seems as thought the more videos that I see shot from this location the stronger this belief is reinforced in my heart. People around the world need to treat their Metal with as much enthusiasm and energy as this region.
Continue reading “Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy World Tour 2005-2006” (DVD) by Helloween
Title: “Keeper Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy World Tour 05/06 Live In Sao Paulo”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 2/20/2007
Genre: Power Metal
Recorded on the tour for “Keeper Of The Seven Keys 3: The Legacy”; the continuing adventures of Helloween have been captured for the world to enjoy. This particular album and tour would be one that found the legendary Power Metal masters returning more to the pure format of the genre that they helped to start so many years ago. As soon as it begins the listener is knocked down with the levels of energy and drive they bring as “The King For A 1000 Years” begins. It is truly the perfect show opener and brings the audience right into the electric vibe that a Helloween show is going to deliver. The concert set is as expected loaded with standards from the Helloween back catalog that are considered anthems in most Metal circles. I found that the band sounded as fresh as they ever did as the classics “Mr. Torture” and “I Want Out” blasted by. Singer Andy Deris has really come into his own in the band after all these years, and many know this group had a number of membership changes since their inception. Musically this is tight and energetic with resounding sing along choruses that many fans know by heart after their decade’s long support. SPV Records has also made available to the public a full DVD that features this concert along with a number of other bonus features. We saw this recently with the release for Kamelot’s “One Cold Winter’s Night”. As far as live albums go this is one of the good ones.
Continue reading “Keeper Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy World Tour – Live In Sao Paulo” by Helloween