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Helloween: Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II-Expanded Edition (remaster)

Part Two of the Keeper of the Seven Keys trilogy was originally released in 1988, a quick follow-up to its successor, which became a major breahthrough for the German band Helloween, starting the whole power-metal genre. Rarely do sequels, whether they be books, movies, or music, succeed as greatly as the originals, but Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II is arguably as good if not better than the first. While no Helloween track can compare with the epic "Halloween" from the first installment, there's no shortage of commercial tinged power metal anthems here. Long rumored to have been written and recorded during the same sessions that produced part one (this has been declared false by Michael Weikath-only a few songs here were originally kicked around during those sessions), the feel of the album is pretty similar. Dueling neo-classical guitars, speedy rhythms, lyrics that deal with humor, fantasy, and sci-fi, and the histrionic vocals of Micheal Kiske, remain the formula here, and it all works very well.

Perhaps no song stands out more than "Eagle Fly Free", a song penned by guitarist Weikath. This is power metal through and through, and a song that no doubt influenced hundreds of young metal musicians over the years. Filled with raging double bass drums, the lightning quick guitars of Weikath and Kai Hansen, and the soaring pipes of Kiske, this song starts this album off with a vengeance. "You Always Walk Alone" is a catchy, uptempo metal rocker, and "Rise and Fall" is a blistering, speed metal number with flashy drum work. One of the album's favorites among the fans has always been "Dr. Stein", a quirky piece with witty lyrics, hooks aplenty, bubbling keyboards, and some wild guitar solos from Hansen and Weikath. Kiske lets his vocals soar into the heavens on "We Got the Right", a powerful ballad that also contains some impressive dual harmony guitar work from the two axe masters. "March of Time" is a symphonic power metal number with great melodies and super charged rhythms-listen closely to this one and you'll hear how current bands like Sonata Artica, Edguy, and Dragonforce got their sound. "I Want Out" will be remembered by many as the single and one of the videos from the album, a Kai Hansen piece with crunchy guitar riffs and memorable hooks. Weikath's "Keeper of the Seven Keys" is another grand epic piece, containing many progressive elements (see if you detect a little Styx influence in spots) as well as passages for the band to really stretch out, especially Kiske, Hansen and Weikath. Less heavy than its sibling "Halloween" from Part One, this one is more symphonic and has catchier melodies, but is still loaded with plenty of guitar firepower. The closer on this CD (out of order from the original album) is the rampaging "Save Us", perhaps the heaviest piece on the album, with no shortage of thrash and speed metal elements, and Kiske's vocals are totally over the top and powerful.

The bonus disk contains a few rarities, such as the B-Sides "Savage", "Livin' Aint No Crime", and "Don't Run For Cover", all leftover tracks from the album, as well as two remixes of songs from the original album. The booklet contains an interview with Michael Weikath who talks about the album, as well as the departure of Kai Hansen, who left after the tour to promote Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II, eventually forming the band Gamma Ray. While the booklet captures all the content and layout of the original LP, you'll need to pull out your micoscope to read the lyrics as they are pretty tiny. The remastered sound is very good, letting the listener enjoy this groundbreaking album on CD as it was always meant to be heard.

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. Invitation
2. Eagle Fly Free
3. You Always Walk Alone
4. Rise And Fall
5. Dr. Stein
6. We Got The Right
7. March Of Time
8. I Want Out
9. Keeper Of The Seven Keys
10. Save Us
Disc: 2
1. Savage (B-Side Taken From Dr. Stein EP)
2. Livin Ain't No Crime (B-Side Taken From Dr. Stein EP)
3. Don't Run For Cover (B-Side Taken From I Want Out EP)
4. Dr. Stein (Remix From Treasure Chest)
5. Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Remix From Treasure Chest)

Added: November 25th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Helloween Website
Hits: 6849
Language: english

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Helloween: Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II-Expanded Edition (remaster)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-25 19:13:16
My Score:

One might have found it strange that Helloween chose to follow up "Keeper 1" with a successor album immediately afterward but if you heard it originally back then- it made nothing but sense. The band was firming up their dominance in this new Power Metal genre that their music was largely responsible for and as the albums opener "Eagle Fly Free" blasts through your speakers you feel all the majesty and grandeur that Helloween would come to be associated with for a number of albums. With their third album being a sequel there were probably not many who felt it would be the success that is eventually became. Song wise there was no shortage of memorable tunes from the comical "Dr. Stein", which finds the infamous Doctor now creating monsters who become Rock Musicians and Politicians, to Metal anthem "I Want Out". The latter track had a very strange video to accompany it on the still fledgling MTV network which at the time showed a lot of Metal bands. This same track still sounds as fresh today almost twenty years later and not many bands can say that about their early material. Kiske has vocal lines on the album that soar high above the stratosphere at times and at others are subtle and passionate and on his own sophomore work with the group you can easily see why he will become one of the most respected Power Metal vocalists of all time and be someone who future singers measure their talents against. The album does not include a sequel to the mega-number "Halloween" from the preceding chapter but in its place we have "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" which serves well as the albums epic number. There is also the appealing heaviness of "Save Us" and this will remind you easily of the appeal of this building genre.

As with the other Helloween expanded remasters this one includes a number of B-sides and bonus tracks that are worth a listen. An in-depth interview with Michael Weikath is included and he discusses a number of things including the departure of guitarist Kai Hansen. The guitarist would leave after personal differences and go on to form his own Power Metal enterprise Gamma Ray. Lyrics and photos are included on this slip cased edition and make this a worthy addition to your Metal catalog. The remastering process on the music does these tracks justice and makes them once again be full of vibrant Metal life.

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