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Classic Review: Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys - Part I
Keeper of the Seven Keys - Part I

Label: Noise Records
Year released: 1987
Duration: 37:09
Tracks: 8
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: August 10, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.62/5 (92.32%) (99 Votes)

Helloween is not an unknown band, but they might have been, if not for this album setting off a sort of chain reaction and getting all the blame for the European Power Metal scene. Helloween have moved onto bigger and better things since, but there's no denying that Keeper of the Seven Keys holds some classic tunes. Kicking off with a worthless intro piece that slowly edges into the careening "I'm Alive," Keeper... wastes no time in getting right to the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. The rest of the songs here are all good, and on the menu we have tunes like the epic and stomping "Halloween," the catchy "Future World," the pummeling "Twilight of the Gods" and the grooving "A Little Time," with its unbeatable pep and bounce. The only real stinker here is the ballad "A Tale That Wasn't Right," which just sucks all around, no avoiding it.

This is not a long album, being just over 35 minutes long, and while sometimes it might just pass by in a hypersonic blur, this succinct shortness is perhaps Keeper's biggest strength. There is no room for filler or nonsense here, just the basics of what would become the standard Power Metal formula, and I think the main reason this album is so revered is because it divided the elements of Power Metal into neat categories and rows: here are your speedy cookers, there are some slower, Prog-ish numbers, that's the lone, poignant ballad and the Power Metal epic is the one with his chin jutting out like a beacon over the water. Helloween got famous here for streamlining things and making them all black and white, allowing for little variation at all in Power Metal's little garden of delights, but that is usually how things work in the media, and Helloween still sound good here, so we can't fault them too much.

The performances here are all pretty spot on, though, with Weikath and Hansen churning out some enjoyable melodies and riffs and some fine work from both Ingo Schwichtenberg and Markus Grosskopf, although the focus is more on Michael Kiske's vocals than anything else, which is a bit of a disappointment; this is enjoyable stuff, but Metal is guitar-oriented music, and as such, this just doesn't stand up to other bands of the 80s who were doing similar things, like Queensryche or Iron Maiden. Kiske himself is enjoyable, hitting some great high notes and having a very Frank Sinatra-esque lower range, but he lacks the conviction and aggression of a Geoff Tate or a Bruce Dickinson, and so I don't like him as much as a lot of people seem to.

Helloween really shouldn't get so much credit for fathering European Power Metal, but hey, they did, and nobody ever said the music business was a fair one. Oh, and the lyrics are stupid, but I won't dock them any points for that.

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