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HELLOWEEN Straight Out Of Hell

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Friday, September 20, 2013 @ 11:08 AM


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HELLOWEEN
Straight out of Hell

The End Records - 2013
http://www.helloween.org/

The latest album from the German metallers brings along the realization that singer Andi Deris has been the frontman for nearly two decades now. Funny how time flies, isn't it?

The premium edition of the CD comes with two bonus tracks and a notable change in their track listing format. In years past, each album has opened with some preposterously titled high energy instrumental. But on Straight out of Hell, the band skips that particular standard and moves straight into their brand of metal madness from the get go.

Before I forget, I should note that I love the little amusing illustrations that accompany each set of song lyrics in the booklet.

The album opens with the song "Nabataea", a 7 minute aggressively paced rocker. It is a pretty decent song that features numerous tempo shifts throughout the track.

One thing I found odd was that with the exception of the song "Live Now!", the individual tracks are each written by a single member of the band. There are no co-writing credits other than the song I mentioned previously. If Deris wrote the lyrics, he did the music as well. The same goes for guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner and bassist Markus Grosskopf. I may have missed that tidbit in previous releases, but it struck me a bit odd that the band didn't do more writing together. That doesn't detract from the songs as a whole however.

The band spent most of the album in ultra high gear. They slowed down just once with the dramatically downshifted "Hold Me In Your Arms". It is the "love" song of the disc but manages to radiate a different level of intensity not common to something in the range of being a "power ballad".

The song "Burning Sun" is a good rocker, and an alternate version subtitled "The Hammond Version" (dedicated to the late DEEP PURPLE keyboardist Jon Lord) serves as one of the two bonus tracks.

The Deris penned "Wanna Be God" is dedicated to Freddie Mercury and the song stands out with the structure somewhat similar to QUEEN's "I Want It All".

Never let it be said that HELLOWEEN is too subtle for their listeners. With songs like "Asshole" however, I really didn't like how the vocal performance came out. The band also doesn't shy away from having very pointed lyrics that without actually reading the CD booklet you will miss out on while grooving to the music. The song "Church Breaks Down" really lets loose on religion. And the vocal performance is quite winning too.

On the song "Waiting For The Thunder", Deris switches vocal styles ranging from a near spoken word take to the more familiar metallic shout. And while the lyrics of the title track seem a bit depressing when read with the song playing along with them, the power of the song actually makes the song quite a standout.

It took me a while to get around to listening to the CD despite buying it the week of release. But as usual, the eternally underrated HELLOWEEN turn in another consistently entertaining collection of purely audacious metal.

I still miss the days of Michael Kiske fronting the band but that ship has long since sailed and Deris & Co. have continued to wave the HELLOWEEN banner in a way that makes you proud to be a fan.

**** Out Of 5


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