Patrick : Helloween has never been afraid to take a little (musical) risk. Each album by the Germans holds their typically recognizable sound, but they do not shy away from an experiment here and there. It does not always work out that well - with the results some ill-fated moments ('Chameleon', 'Metal Jukebox', 'Unarmed: Best of 25th Anniversary') - but fortune favours the bold. If that is has been with their most recent album ('Unarmed: Best of 25th Anniversary') - and the many criticisms on it - in mind, I do not know, but when the band started recording their new album members made a promise that a heavy and dark album was waiting. Was this unnecessary claptrap or a true assessment?
And it has to be said: not a single word of the promise remains unfulfilled. '7 Sinners' is without doubt Helloween's fastest, darkest and heaviest album in years. This is particularly evident in the drumming. I don't think I have ever heard Dani Löble rage on his drum kit this heavily. Best example of this is 'Long Life The King': supported by a Judas Priest-like riff Löble gives his double-bass pedal an unmercifully beating and the bpm (beats per minute) increase at moments to a high which is for Helloween unprecedented. Usual elements such as the guitar duels between Weikath and Gerstner, variety, a convincing Deris and the more complex arrangements are all present as well. Helloween would not be Helloween if they did not add an occasional, unusual twist, both musically as well as lyrically. In 'Raise The Noise' a part of the solo is being done by a flute. Not your kind of thing? On the version of this song on the single 'Are You Metal?' the flute solo has been removed. Inspiration is also found in the band's rich history: 'Who Is Mr. Madman?' - on which the intro is being spoken by Biff Byford - is a lyrical sequel to 'Perfect Gentleman' who goes through life in 2010 in a straitjacket and taking his necessary pills. Tracks such as 'Are You Metal?', 'Who Is Mr. Madman?', 'World Of Fantasy', 'Long Live The King' (!), 'If A Mountain Could Talk', 'The Sage, The Fool, The Sinner' en 'Far In The Future' are plain highlights and a weak track is only present with the semi-ballad 'Smile Of The Sun' - after the fast 'Long Live The King' it simply sounds too sweet after my liking.
Fans of the earlier material by Helloween can blindly buy this album. But do you belong to the group that has depreciated the band in recent years? This '7 Sinners' demonstrates why Helloween still is way more impressive than many other bands and a label as 'kings of power metal' is totally at its place. Long Live The Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!