Helloween - Gambling with the devil 4.5/5

Reviewed: 11-9-07





Tracklist:

1. Crack the riddle (intro)
2. Kill it
3. The saints
4. As long as I fall
5. Paint a new world
6. Final fortune
7. The bells of the seven hells
8. Fallen to pieces
9. I.M.E.
10. Can do it
11. Dreambound
12. Heaven tells no lies
13. Find my freedom (bonus track)
14. We unite (bonus track)


One major event of the 2007 metal calender, would be the release of the new Helloween CD. Now it has arrived, entitled ‘Gambling with the devil’... and boy was it worth the wait. It is these German metal masters 12th full-length CD, and already it is being touted as one of their finest. And I agree.

After what I thought to be one of the disappointments of 2005 with Helloween’s ‘Keeper of the seven keys/The legacy’, I was hoping for a return to form with their next CD. Something that was a mix of their previous few CDs ('The dark ride', 'Rabbit don’t come easy', 'Better than raw'), would have made me happy. And as it turns out, ‘Gambling with the devil’ is indeed reminiscent of those above-mentioned CDs.

Sounding refreshed and full of ideas, the Helloween boys have delivered a killer CD, which should make any metalhead’s top 10 list of 2007. Unlike ‘Legacy’, the new CD has more depth, more speed and most importantly, more balls. It is one of their heavier CDs in quite some time, yet filled with Helloween’s typical soaring melodies, outstanding vocals and brilliant songwriting. The tracks making up ‘Gambling with the devil’ are all somewhat based on correct and incorrect decisions made in one’s life, and what those decisions lead to; thus you are gambling with the devil.

This current line-up for Helloween is certainly now bringing out the best in all of them and Helloween have certainly not suffered since the departure of Roland Grapow in 2001. Sascha Gerstner is indeed a fantastic guitarist and a worthy replacement of Mr. Grapow. Gerstner and Michael Weikath both go to town on this CD, executing some of the best riffs and solos I’ve heard on a Helloween CD in some time. The CD is also quite speedier than the most recent releases, giving me a trip back to the early days of Helloween, but this time with the awesome vocals of Andy Deris. Andy gives one of his best vocal performances on ‘Gambling with the devil’, delivering so much more than normal. He has such a massive range, including an aggressive darker tone, a soothing mid-range tone and finally his soaring and emotional tone which always stands out in songs and makes them as memorable as they should be.

I must say that the drumming and production on this CD is impeccable. Being a drummer myself, I was taken back with the quality of the drumming on this CD. Dani Loeble, who arrived in 2005, plays the performance of his life on ‘Gambling with the devil’. The production is better than crystal clear, giving the perfect sound to everything that you are hearing, and the perfect balance between them all.

Onto the songs on ‘Gambling with the devil’. Every track bar one is very good, but the track which is the poorest would be “Can do it”. It’s a song which doesn’t quite fit with the flow of the other tracks, plus it has a rather annoying sound and structure. The first track (after the short intro), called “Kill it” is your typical Helloween track in the same vein as “Mr. Torture” or “Eagle fly free”. It is one of the speediest and aggressive tracks on the CD, giving it a darker feel. Deris’ vocals on this track are great, containing so many different ranges, such as Halford-esk high-pitched screams to dark and aggressive tones. “As long as I fall” is another killer track, which sounds very similar to “If I could fly” from ‘The dark ride’. The solo on this track kicks ass too, while the chorus is quite catchy.

“Final fortune” is another top track on the CD. It’s another typical speedy Helloween track with a catchy chorus and a solo that will blow you away. Again, Deris’ vocals is the standout. My favourite track on the CD follows after “Final fortune”, entitled “The bells of the seven hells”. It starts out eerie and sombre but soon the main heavy and aggressive riff begins. Andy Deris goes ‘balls to the wall’ on this track, giving us one of his best vocal performances since joining Helloween. The mid-part of the song is completely riff driven, where heads will be banging as soon as it hits you. The chorus is memorable while the song as a whole is fantastic and is one of Helloween’s best ever.

Starting immediately after “The bells of the seven hells”, almost connected, is the somewhat power ballad “Fall to pieces”. This is another top track on the CD, with lots of emotion from Deris, especially during the chorus. Following that track is the next killer song, called “I.M.E”. It’s a short rockin’ track with nice groove-filled riffs and a catchy chorus. After the weak “Can do it”, the CD finishes with 2 solid tracks; “Dreambound” and “Heaven tells no lies”.

‘Gambling with the devil’ contains 2 bonus tracks (a Japanese bonus track and a regular bonus track). In my opinion, the Japanese bonus track, entitled “Find my freedom” should have made it onto the CD instead of “Can do it”, making that a bonus track.

Overall I am very impressed with Helloween’s latest effort. As mentioned before, it is a fantastic CD that is right up there with Helloween’s best releases. Fans of Helloween will automatically purchase this blindly, that is a given. As for the rest, you know who this band is and you know how they sound; it’s a CD which fans of power metal should get their hands on. Quickly.



SEAN




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