Straight Out of Hell

1. Nabataea
2. World of War
3. Live Now!
4. Far From the Stars
5. Burning Sun
6. Waiting for the Thunder
7. Hold Me in Your Arms
8. Wanna Be God
9. Straight Out of Hell
10. Asshole
11. Years
12. Make Fire Catch the Fly
13. Church Breaks Down
Limited edition bonus tracks:
14. Another Shot of Life" (Limited Edition bonus track)
15. Burning Sun (Hammond version)" (Limited Edition bonus track; dedicated to Jon Lord)
16. No Eternity (Japanese Limited Edition bonus track)

Michael Weikath (Guitar & back.vocals)
Markus Grosskopf (Bass & back.vocals)
Andi Deris (Lead vocals)
Sascha Gerstner (Guitar & back.vocals)
Daniel Löble (Drums)

Walls of Jericho (1985)
Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1 (1987)
Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 2 (1988)
Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
Chameleon (1993)
Master of the Rings (1994)
The Time of the Oath (1996)
Better Than Raw (1998)
The Dark Ride (2000)
Rabbit Don't Come Easy (2003)
Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy (2005)
Gambling with the Devil (2007)
Unarmed: The Best Of - 25 year anniversary (2009)
7 Sinners (2010)

Matthias Ulmer – keyboards
William "Billy" King, Olaf Senkbeil & Ron Deris - backing vocals

Produced by Charlie Bauerfeind
Band photography, artwork & 3D design by Martin Häusler
Illustrations by Marcos Moura
Additional engineering and editing by Thomas Geiger
Recorded in MiSueno Studio in Tenerife

Released 2013-01-18
Reviewed 2013-02-03

sony music

We're presented with the name Helloween, a name most hard rock fans will have some kind of emotion tied to when they see/hear. Some will have a positive emotion, some a negative and some will have complexed emotions like betrayal or euphoria or some kind of plain apathy but there will be some kind of emotions in almost everyone when Helloween releases something, that's for sure.

The reason is of course the success of their eighties albums and especially 'Keepers Of The Seven Keys' part 1 and 2. The success of these two albums made such an impact on the world that some 15 years ago a new wave of bands playing this kind of music took over the world, more or less all inspired by Helloween and their 'Keepers Of The Seven Keys' albums. Many are we who love them, equally many hates them for the effect they had on the hard rock scene but since then there hasn't really been anything by this band worth the name, or at least not much. I think most of us agree that 'Chameleon' and 'Pink Bubbles Go Ape' are some sort of low-mark and the only comfort with them are the fact that the albums that followed was much better. I especially like 'Better Than Raw' and 'The Dark Ride' but the last 20 years has been much of a roller-coaster ride for the band with the albums released in the past ten years again dropping a bit in quality after peaking a little in the late 90's. I especially don't like their possession trying to ride the success of the 'Keepers Of The Sven Keys' duo, like releasing 'Keepers Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy' in 2005 and then a 25-year anniversary album in 2009 where more than half of the songs came from the 'Keepers Of The Seven Keys' albums as they rerecorded twelve songs from the past in alternative versions. Now it's been two years since Helloween released an album last released an album. That album was called '7 Sinners' and probably these sinners came straight out of hell… just like this album.

Now a normal hard rocker, which isn't a die-hard Helloween fan, will consider at most five of Helloweens 13 previous albums as really good, but probably more likely three or four, and a normal Helloween fans could probably see another one or two albums so but I think most people will agree with me when I say that this is a band that have some proving to do if they are to deserve that iconic status and important place in the history of hard rock. I don't actually think they have something to prove, they've done their part and whatever a band do afterwards is up to them, but I do think Helloween is starting to get a bit boring by now and if they want to continue being interesting they really need 'Straight Out Of Hell' to be good!

The starting tune is called Nabataea and actually it's a promising start to the album. However, I think where this album shines is not here it's where Sacha Gerstner has been let free to compose. Gerstner has written the second song - World Of War, which is one of the best songs on the album, as well as the ballad Hold Me In Your Arms, which probably is the best song of them all. Sure, he's also written the song Asshole, which is a good and funny song but not really album material… it's more of a bonus song or something you put in the very end as a more light tune. I'm glad they've let Gerstner compose these songs but it's actually quite worrying when you read the composer credits as there's only one song where members has composed something together (sure this might be a case of only crediting the guy that hatched the idea even though all members has added some flare to it but I don't think so, I interviewed this band some time ago and they don't give the impression that they write stuff together - something past albums also seems to confirm). You might think - so what's the problem with this? They write songs separately - what's the big deal? The problem is that you get songs with very different style and also very unequal quality. I think the sprawling this album presents is enough to not feel it's an album that interlinks with itself.

The running time of the album is more or less exactly an hour and it's spread over thirteen songs. The Gerstner songs are usually the best, the Deris songs are commonly most orchestral and grand and the songs the other guys has written are worst. Some songs use much keyboards, others are very fast (some even fast WITH plenty of keyboards) but there are a few mid-tempo songs too and even a ballad (the already mentioned Hold Me In Your Arms). I don't think it's the best album Helloween has potential to present to their fans but at least it's well made, well played and pretty alright. Absolutely not bad! Some songs are even among the best I've heard by Helloween but the problem with the album is that it, like the Helloween discography, goes a bit too much up and down. Far From The Stars and Burning Sun (track four and five) are clearly the most boring two songs on the album and they're written by the only real long time members of the band - Weikath and Grosskopf. The title track is decent though, and that's written by Grosskopf so they're not only fooling around.

'Straight Out Of Hell' is a power metal album, it's mostly fast and heavy with quickly rumbling drums and some good songs in Wanna Be God, Waiting For The Thunder, World Of War, Hold Me In Your Arms and even Asshole. Then there's a few decent songs - like Straight Out Of Hell, Nabatea and make Fire Catch The Fly. But the rest are just not very good. Too much trying to be Helloween of past days despite the fact that they haven't got the vocalist or the musicians to do that stuff anymore. Sure, overall this is an album Helloween can be proud of because they have achieved some very impressing stuff on this album. All in all I think it ranks somewhere in the middle of their albums.

So to summarize I say the pumpkins has done quite well, but I just wish they could tie the whole thing together and make an album that sounds good all the way through. It's been a while since that happened now… 'Straight Out Of Hell' is clearly one step forward though.



Label: Sony Music
Three similar bands: Stratovarius/Gamma Ray/Masterplan
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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