Helloween - Straight Out Of Hell [Power / Speed Metal]
I am admittedly not a huge fan of power metal, but this album has a lot more to offer than most power metal bands out there, and may prove to be one last gasp before this genre eventually dies out (and with the overwhelming number of death and black metal bands out there, this will be inevitable).
The cover and album may have been part of the success of this album, because it was so bad I had absolutely zero expectations for this band, whatever their past endeavors may have been. But within the chorus of the opening 'Nabataea' I was unconsciously sucked into the gleeful joy of this record. Words to describe the band would be cheesy, happy and campy, but for some reason, it is still a pleasant listen because of some truly glorious instrumentation from guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner that recall the heyday of 80s metal. Unlike early Dragonforce, who tended to get carried away with their instrument prowess, there is an undeniable sense of fun in the riffs and solos that pepper the album. Bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Daniel Löble are mediocre at best but serviceable, but the one man who truly dominates the album is vocalist Andi Deris. His voice is powerful and heartfelt, by no means groundbreaking but in its own way unique and rare since people hardly sing like this anymore. His range but not be formidable but his control is, letting his voice fade out in a whimper or shrieking back with forcefulness at the precision of a drum beat. For me personally, he is the heart of the band, and his song-writing capabilities that add depth and complexity, or modern twists to old school songcraft, are what propel the music to listenable standards.
However, that novelty is shallow and doesn't stand the test of time. This is a good album, but not good enough for this time. Power metal has many limitations but bands like Into Eternity and Demons & Wizards have managed to break through them (I don't even have to bring in the mighty Symphony X), and whilst Straight Into Hell does have its merits, it does not have enough to make it stand out. Still a worthy listen here and there, but the album does have as many weak songs as it does good songs. Standout tracks are the opener 'Nabataea', 'Waiting For The Thunder' and 'Church Breaks Down'.
★★★☆☆ Average - Half of album is listenable