Straight Out Of Hell
After a fairly uneventful string of albums, 7 Sinners (2010) began a return to form for the mighty Helloween. Straight Out Of Hell builds on the big anthem, big production style that put the German band on the A-List, but it’s the songwriting this time around that takes this album from good to great. For the first time since Better Than Raw (1998), Helloween have released a solid collection of great songs that plays like an album from start to finish. “All killer, no filler,” as they say.
The whooping seven-minute plus journey of ‘Nabataea’ opens the album with the strongest statement the band has made in many years. The rip roaring guitars, soaring vocals and catchy-as-hell groove all come together in the most bombastically cool way you can imagine. It feels a lot shorter than it actually is because the band doesn’t sit still for one second and Andi Deris’ vocals constantly explode into the high range that he is best known for. It reminds me a great deal of the material on Master Of The Rings (1994).
There are plenty of less epic but fast-moving moments here as well. Helloween prove that melody and speed are a wondrous combination on songs like the title track and ‘Make Fire Catch The Fly’. The latter is easily one of the album’s highlights with its weight-loss paced drumming and a smattering of keyboards to mind the gaps. The combo of the two-minute ‘Wanna Be God’ and the blistering title track are ample proof that the band have plenty of life left in them, while ‘Another Shot Of Life’ (a bonus track on the limited edition version) is a melodic metal gem that comes off like an anthem for the beaten down. Its darker musical feel is balanced expertly by the soul-searching, positive outlook of the lyrics. The latter being a theme that has been at the forefront of the Andi Deris-fronted Helloween era.
‘Burning The Sun’ and ‘Years’ are classic sounding Helloween epics rife with background symphony, background vocals, aggressive vocals and furious soloing. Certainly throwbacks to the Michael Kiske era, the songs hold their own quite well and provide a nice balance of both schools of Helloween.
All in all, I’m shocked that Helloween still had an album like this in them. I’m happy for anything we get from this criminally underappreciated band, but Straight Out Of Hell ranks with their best albums. If you have never heard Helloween before then don’t hesitate to start with this one. If you are a fan already, old or new, this is the album you have been waiting for.
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