Review by Darren Smith for MPM
Who’d have guessed that when German power metal legends Helloween announced in November 2016 that former members and vocalists Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske were rejoining the band for the ‘Pumpkins United World Tour’ that some four and a half years later, we would be getting a full studio album from that very line up.
After all, performing the back catalogue with 3 vocalists on stage is one thing but writing and recording material for the three is a very different kettle of fish. Well, the first glimpse of how well it would work came in October 2017, when the band released the Pumpkins United single before embarking on their world tour of the same name.
That tour saw the band release, what is for me, one of the best live albums to have been released in many a year. You just have to listen to it once, to realise what a great band Helloween is and their back catalogue of songs, whether it be from the Kai Hansen era, the Michael Kiske era or the Andi Deris era is just phenomenal.
Fast forward a few years, an arranged then rearranged world tour and a worldwide coronovirus pandemic later, our Pumpkin inspired heroes are set to unleash onto the world a brand new self titled studio album, featuring not just one or two of their vocalists but all three.
Yep, you read that right, “Helloween” which is due for release through Nuclear Blast Records on June 18th 2021 will be the first studio album from the Pumpkins United line up and Messrs Hansen, Kiske and Deris will all be performing on it. Now, I have to say, that news got this reviewer, who has been a fan of all the different era’s of Helloween a little excited.
Imagine how I was when I was asked to review “Skyfall” the lead single from that album. Hot under the collar is a very apt term! I can honestly say that I was tingling with excitement when the single hit my inbox over Easter weekend and even writing the review brought me out in a sort of sweaty nervousness.
I so wanted the single to be mind-blowingly brilliant, I wanted to hear all three vocalists not only compliment each other but push each other to make this one of the most sought after Helloween tracks and albums of their 37 year career. Well, I was not disappointed, in fact I was more than a little impressed.
The track which was written by Kai Hansen is described in the record labels press release as “a seven minute ride into the Helloween universe, and beyond”. To be fair to them, they are downplaying the stratospheric qualities of this immensely brilliant release.
They go on to say that it is about “an alien landing on earth and a dramatic chase whilst Kiske, Deris and Hansen duel each other in breathtaking manner”. They most definitely are not wrong. The way the vocal parts are written to give each singer a chance to have their own baroscopic moment is just divine.
“Skyfall” has all the classic Helloween trademarks and pulls from all the bands different era’s. Yes there is a massive “Keeper of the Seven Keys” vibe to it, yes there are time changes aplenty and the vocals and musicianship are up there with the best, as they always have been.
From the moment those soaring Michael Kiske vocals kick in, you just know that you about to bear witness to something incredibly special. Then when the thundering drums and crunching guitars start, “Skyfall” fires you straight into orbit, in spectacular fashion.
There is something heavenly about Helloween when they are in this form, this is them at their best and the way the track is written it just showcases the incredible talents of each and every member to the full.
I know this is not just about the vocalists, it is about the band, but for someone who has been a fan since 1987, hearing Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Andi Deris singing together is the stuff that dreams are made of and this particular dream has just fallen from the sky.
I personally, cannot wait to hear the full, even more epic version of “Skyfall”, but for now, my appetite has been wet with this sumptuous single edit version which has been cut down to an abridged but still epic seven minutes.
For now, until June 18th I am going to listen to this beautiful, magnificent and somewhat extravagant track as much as I can. Helloween have just entered a new and exciting stage of their careers and I am going to buckle up for the ride.
Andi Deris – lead vocals
Michael Kiske – lead vocals
Michael Weikath – guitars, backing vocals
Kai Hansen – guitars, lead vocals, backing vocals
Sascha Gerstner – guitars, backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf – bass, backing vocals
Kai Hansen – guitars, backing vocals
Daniel Löble – drums
“Skyfall” is available on CD, digitally and two different vinyl versions.
Single 1: Vinyl, CD, digital: ‘Skyfall’ (single edit) + ‘Skyfall’ (exclusive alternative vocals mix). Both are exclusive single versions and will not be on the album. Around 20 minutes playing time.
Single 2: Vinyl only: ‘Skyfall’ (single edit) + ‘Indestructible’ (exclusive album track). This is a strictly limited version of the new single with one exclusive album track.
The self-titled “HELLOWEEN” record, which comes out on June 18th via Nuclear Blast Tonträger Produktions- und Vertriebs GmbH, is available to pre-order now.
It is available in a host of different formats.
2CD – Digibook, 1CD – Jewelcase, 3LP – Hologram-Vinyl in Trifold,2LP – Vinyl in Gatefold (picture vinyl + div. colors), 2LP/2CD – Earbook Edition, 2LP/2CD – Deluxe Boxset (black vinyl and splatter vinyl), Cassette and Digital. Pre-order here: https://nblast.de/HELLOWEEN-Helloween Pre-save: http://nblast.de/HelloweenPreSave
TRACKLISTING for “HELLOWEEN“
01 – Out For The Glory
02 – Fear Of The Fallen
03 – Best Time
04 – Mass Pollution
05 – Angels
06 – Rise Without Chains
07 – Indestructible
08 – Robot King
09 – Cyanide
10 – Down In The Dumps
11 – Orbit
12 – Skyfall
Bonustracks on the Mediabook & Vinyl:
01 – Golden Times
02 – Save My Hide
Bonustracks on the Earbook edition
01 – Golden Times
02 – Save My Hide
03 – Pumpkins United
Listen to ‘Skyfall here: https://helloween.bfan.link/skyfall