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Helloween: United Alive In Madrid

The sixth song on this double (or depending on what version you plump for, triple) live album easily sums up the career of Helloween - “Rise And Fall”. It’s to their great testament however that to complete the story you have to add ‘and rise again further than before’ to bring the Helloween tale right up to date. Early beginnings with guitarist Kai Hansen standing behind the mic saw a debut album hit the metal market hard and make an immediate impact right across Europe. Therefore there was great surprise that blonde bombshell Michael Kiske took on singing duties for the follow up records, Keeper Of The Seven Keys Parts I & II. With the new singer being seen as the next Bruce Dickinson it was an inspired move that propelled Helloween ever up the metal leagues. At that point Hansen left the band and much though ever present guitarist Michael Weikath and bassist Markus Grosskopf stayed the course, things started to go off the rails with albums number four and five (Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon) being derided in the press, ignored by fans and culminating in Michael Kiske not just leaving the band alongside drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, but also turning his back on heavy metal.

Helloween continued with Weikath, Grosskopf, guitarist Roland Grapow (replaced by Sascha Gerstner), drummer Uli Kusch (succeeded by Mark Cross, Stefan Schwarzmann and finally Daniel Löble) and Pink Cream 69 singer Andi Deris, with the five-some resetting the band’s course in some style through albums such as Master Of The Rings, The Dark Ride and Straight Out Of Hell. However, even with their reputation reestablished, the news that the five current members of the band were to be reunited with Hansen and Kiske for a string of dates around the world celebrating all eras of Helloween was met with true shock and excitement. Thankfully United Alive In Madrid confirms that the hype was well and truly merited, with all seven musicians involved obviously revelling in the impact of reinvigorating a catalogue that now stretches back some 35 years.

All kinds of formats and versions of this live document of the reunion/expansion of the band are available for you to snap up, from coloured vinyls to blu-rays and much else in between but for review purposes it’s the two disc CD version that has been made digitally available and while the clips on youtube illustrate that the way to go is the blu-ray, as an aural document this 20 song set verges on being peerless. There seems to be no ego involved whatsoever as Hansen, Kiske and Deris sing and share their respective songs, while the triple guitar attack of Hansen, Weikath and Gerstner not once feels like the cluttered compromise that Iron Maiden have left themselves with through their glut of guitarists.

The track listing has been expertly chosen and whether through the likes of “How Many Tears” from the Hansen era, “I Want Out” or “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” from the Kiske years, or “If I Could Fly” and “Power” from the time Deris has been expertly steering the ship, finding fault is nigh on impossible. The crowd in Madrid live up to that impressive standard, singing and cheering their hearts out as a group of musicians they never thought they’d see on stage together give a supreme heavy metal display.

Is there much left to say? In all honesty, not really. United Alive is, put simply, fantastic. In fact I’d go as far as to suggest that it’s the best live heavy metal album to see the light of day for years, if not decades.

Track Listing
1. Halloween
2. Dr. Stein
3. I`m Alive
4. If I Could Fly
5. Are You Metal
6. Rise And Fall
7. Waiting For The Thunder
8. Perfect Gentleman
9. Kai’s Medley
10. Forever And One
11. A Tale That Wasn’t Right
12. I Can
13. Living Ain’t No Crime A Little Time
14. Sole Survivor
15. Power
16. How Many Tears
17. Invitation + Eagle Fly Free
18. Keeper Of The Seven Keys
19. Future World
20. I Want Out

Added: November 11th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Helloween online
Hits: 744
Language: english

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