Sound: Similar to fine wine, most artists tend to be better with age. The reason is virtually unknown but one could attribute it to the fact musicians want to conquer their previous material, pushing forth the loudest most raw/aggressive work to date. 7 Sinners is solid proof. The name Helloween is tarnished with 26 years and 15 studio releases reeking of speed metal, but the German group are no slouches. Claiming the new record is their heaviest material to date, the band don't hold anything back, powering through 13 tracks that are more fresh than stale.
Though artists constantly try to refine their sound, Helloween just makes a minor tweak by turning the volume up. The blistering guitar work on "Raise The Noise" and "Long Live The King" have that parents-basement-vinyl-feel to it, making a few songs seem like old recordings. Not that it's a bad thing; the pace at which the group work at is animalistic to the point it seems like its straight out of the 1980s', but it changes, dropping modern riffs ("You Stupid Mankind") and experimental pieces ("My Sacrifice") that test drummer Daniel Loble's talent. Almost clocking in at an hour of classic shred-hungry power metal, the record features the ability to drain you, but uses an impressive set of pipes to spike the adrenaline in your ears. // 8
Lyrics: Sure a band that formed in 1984 can still rock longer than a Guitar Hero credits song, but can it do so with vocals that don't fail to impress song after song? Andi Deris sure does try hard. The 46-year-old who once fronted Pink Cream uses his age to his advantage, showing expertise by knowing when to sway in and out of pitch and range. On "Far In The Future", the vocalist plays with words and leaves space for guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner to strut in while in other instances, he takes control when it's needed. "The Smile Of The Sun" and the single "Are You Metal?" spotlight his voice, pitting Deris against some of metal's most influential vocalists and songwriters. Rock has it's abundance of aging singers who haven't lost a step and the frontman is one that shouldn't be overshadowed. // 8
Overall Impression: Even if you don't appreciate heavy metal and it's monstrous sound, you'll appreciate the classic undertones hidden in 7 Sinners. It's release date says 2010, but it almost feels like a disc that influenced acts like Metallica during their early stages. It's overwhelming length can be hard to handle, but blame its constant pace that leaves little room for excess experimentation, allowing it to seem like just another video game soundtrack add-on. Then again, is metal designed to be altered? According to Helloween, the answer is "no"; it's just meant to be played at a high intensity. // 8
- Joshua Khan (c) 2010