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Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy

Label: SPV USA
Format: CD
Released: 2005
Reviewed By: Rich Catino


This undertaking must have been a labor of love or the biggest headache Helloween has ever decided to do, I'm bettin on the latter. Not that they couldn't handle the task, because I think “Keeper: The Legacy” is damn good, but fact is when they wrote “Keeper of the Seven Keys” Parts 1 & 2 back in 1987/88, they became benchmark classics that defined the Euro Power Metal sound. Not to mention, “Keeper The Legacy” does not have former Helloween singer Michael Kiske or original guitarist Kai Hansen, who since 1990 has fronted his own band Gamma Ray. Obviously, especially without Kai on guitar and writing both music and lyrics, without these two past members contributing comparisons are going to be thrown around like a food fight in grammar school.

 

With all this to keep in mind, what it boils down to is the only original remaining members of the lineup, Marcus Grosskopf on bass, Michael Weikath on guitar, and long time singer since “Master of the Rings” Andi Deris, have decided to take on the task of completing this epic musical adventure without losing their heads, and respect of the originals. I think they did just fine.

Starting off disc one with an epic called “The King for 1,000 Years” is bold, but you know what, its good and goes well with the epic title track to “Keeper Part 2”. It's around 14 minutes complete with orchestrations, several tempo changes, and a multitude of guitar parts. Followed by “The Invisible Man” and its classic piano parts, Helloween have obviously put a lot of time and thought into writing the music for this disc. As with the original “Keeper” albums, “Legacy” also has the fun, lighthearted side to the music and lyrics (“Dr. Stein” from Keeper Part 2), as with the first single “Ms . God” with its commercial guitar lead and “Come Alive” from disc two. Guitarist Michael Weikath still does most of the writing and his style on old classics like “Eagle Fly Free” and “How Many Tears” can be heard all over tunes “Born on Judgment Day” and “Occasion Avenue”, another epic. Singer Andi as well does some writing along with new guitarist Sasha Gerstner who came on board for “Rabbit Don't Come Easy”, and wrote “Pleasure Drone” with both writing “Silent Rain”. Sasha's way of writing fits and the music here is classic Helloween, much more than when they were getting back into the swing of things after “The Dark Ride” for “Rabbit”.

As we get into disc two opening with another long but good one “Occasion Ave”, the many layers to a song like this keeps the track interesting, not too complex but taking several twists and turns. The piano is also used again here adding a classical back to the acappella vocals. The ballad “Light of the Universe” features a vocal duet with Richie Blackmore's companion Candice Night, a nice inclusion and works well for the song. With this disc it's a total of 13 songs and I think a bit long, they probably could have eliminated a few and made it one disc.

From this long time listener, yes I bought “Keeper Part 1” in 1987 when it was released and “Walls of Jericho” before that, so my comments have plenty of knowledge to back them up, Helloween has shown a lot of musical strength by deciding to take on this project, as well as the impending criticism. All around it's a very respectful follow up to the original two “Keeper” albums. Do I think if Kai Hansen was still with Helloween it would have been amazing? Sure I do because the new Gamma Ray is one of their best.

 
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