One of my favorite moments as a podcaster was interviewing Michael Kiske, who at that point had been in self-imposed exile from the metal community for years. I am a huge fan of the band’s work up until Time Of The Oath, after that they kind of lost me, although I do have all of their releases. Their original two Keeper Of The Seventh Keys albums are ground breaking, and are the foundation on which Power Metal was built. Because of this, I’ve never really gotten into the sub-genre, because it always sounded like bands were cheap rip-offs of these two great albums. The pressure of following up these releases has always haunted the band as they began sounding like a tribute to themselves in my opinion. One of the many things Michael said in the three hours I spoke to him was that he would never work with Michael Weikath again, so it was a surprise to me to hear that this reunion would take place. Much like the old album by Yes called Union, this the current lineup of Weikath, Markus Grosskopf, Andi Deris, Sascha Gerstner and Dani Loble, and brings Kiske and Kai Hanson back to the fold. I would have to imagine that Hanson is the one that helped unify everything as his band Gamma Ray has done more than one tour with Helloween where he would join the band on stage, plus he’s the guitarist in Unisonic with Kiske. It surprised a lot of people that Roland Grapow did not come back to the band as well, but he and his band Masterplan actually released an album of reworked Helloween tracks that Roland had originally written while in the band. That album in my opinion was not very good, as it lacked the vocal prowess of Kiske and Deris, so it fell flat for me.
On to the single, I was so pumped to hear this, until I actually did. I get the purpose of the song, it’s called Pumpkins United as is the album, and world tour which starts on October 19th. I get it they’re united, they’re all back together, but the track really does nothing fo me. It sounds like very generic power metal, where they’re taking lines from the band’s past and reusing them here, to celebrate every era of the band. The incorporation of multiple lead singers is not an easy task, especially for a band that has never done this before. Look at the chorus, it’s actually Hanson, Kiske and Deris trading off vocals as they’ve been the band’s three lead singers, each singing a part that references a lyric they have sung. Then Deris and Kiske trade off or combine their vocals off and on throughout the track. It just does not work for me, it ends up sounding like a Broadway tune, with very cheesy lyrics, and generic power metal music behind it. Given how good, and ground breaking they once were, this feels like the band further trying to chase former glories. Now, that does not mean I’m not holding out hope that the album will be great. This feels like the opener to a Broadway play, so maybe the subsequent acts will blow me away.