September 2020 Feature Release - The Guardians Edition
It's now September which of course means that we'll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we're asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We're really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don't be shy.
This month's feature release for The Guardians is the second & final release in German power metal legends Helloween's "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" series, a record simply known as "Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II". Helloween are widely regarded as the originators of the European metal movement & this album shows off all of the main character traits that the subgenre has built its reputation on. What do you think of it? Helloween has always been a divisive band in many respects & we're interested to find out what side of the fence you lot sit on.
I did a review, here's its summary:
After the speedy Walls of Jericho, the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums took the band's influences from the mid-80s eras of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and refined them with a fantasy twist, still shocking the metal scene for over 3 decades. O.G. power metal fans would never skip any song in the album, though I definitely would skip two of the songs here, "Rise and Fall" and "Dr. Stein", both of which are outright cheddar cheese that hasn't aged well, and the sound effects aren't worth it. A couple other songs, "You Always Walk Alone" and the bonus track "Save Us" aren't that great in quality but still OK. But all the other songs are excellent power metal classics that are what make Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II a great start for power metal. I can see how it changed the world of metal music, but I might not give another spin until say a couple years later if I somehow have a big taste change back to classic power metal. Just ignore those "meh" songs and you have an essential power metal classic album in your hands!
Look, let's be honest here... Helloween were never really going to be my thing now, were they? I must have given this record a dozen revisits over the years in order to see if the penny would finally drop however I'm still no closer to finding much enjoyment in its overly cheesy take on European power metal. In saying that though, I do think it's Helloween's best work, mainly off the back of "You Always Walk Alone" & "We Got the Right" which I really dig (probably because they travel closer to traditional heavy metal territory). Surprisingly, I actually find the "Keeper Of the Seven Keys" series to less intolerable than Helloween's first couple of speed metal releases. I guess this band simply isn't for me.
Surprisingly, I'm not much of a Helloween fan. I ended up giving their debut EP a 4/5 just because it was the clean and classic beginning of Power Metal but I found that Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I rubbed me the wrong way for whatever reason. Although they were the originators, I can't help but think that Helloween haven't exactly aged too well compared to many other classic Power Metal bands. They were, and still are, pretty generic and lackluster for me personally even with Kiske's impressive singing and the clean and fast guitar riffing. That being said, I agree wholeheartedly with Daniel in that this album is their best one by far. I had Part I rated as a 4 before listening to Part II, and Part II was such a massive improvement that I ended up dropping Part I down to a 3.5 and putting this one at a solid 4. The songwriting and overall album flow is just better, with most of Part I's great moments only coming around during the 13-minute "Halloween". This album is so much more consistent with "You Always Walk Alone", "Dr. Stein", "I Want Out", and "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" all being Power Metal classics that perfectly show what Helloween's sound is all about.
That being said I'm still not the biggest fan! Even though a 4/5 may seem high I would put so many other classic Power Metal bands above Helloween in terms of personal preference. I'm generally not a fan of any other bands that seriously leans into their style either, apart from Edguy and Avantasia, who have featured Kiske on multiple different albums of theirs. Something about their songwriting and sound never gripped me as much as Blind Guardian, or Rhapsody. I'll acknowledge their importance and i definitely enjoyed this album, but I have a feeling that if I delve farther into Helloween's discography the scores will only go down from here, especially since I'm already familiar with Walls Of Jericho and their 2000's material.