German power metal legends Helloween are back with their fourteenth original studio album, Straight Out of Hell. After a series of uneventful releases for Helloween, 2010 marked a somewhat return to form for the band with 7 Sinners. I was not a huge fan of that one, but it had its moments. Keep in mind that my idea of Helloween’s glory days were basically Keeper of the Seven Keys – Parts I and II. I was a huge fan of Michael Kiske, and when he was replaced by Andi Deris, I had an empty feeling about it. That feeling got worse when guitarist Kai Hansen left to form Gamma Ray.
Straight Out of Hell, as generically named as it is, is the album that pessimists never thought could happen. It really is good and seems to have some legs. I would not put it up their with their work with Kiske, but it is much better than anything recent of theirs. With this release, the band have solidified their place at the very forefront of credible, modern power metal.
The album’s opening track, “Nabataea,” shows us that there is something different about Straight Out of Hell indeed. It is chock full of goodness throughout. It is the strongest statement that the band has made in many years. Another nice song is the anthem-type track “Live Now!.” It is begging to be played loud and proud.
Songs like “Far From the Stars” are what we expect from Helloween with its powerful chorus and speed rhythm guitar playing. Even the solo hearkens back to a time when the band was more playful with its songwriting. The vocal work from Andi Deris is both uplifting and extremely well done with some fantastic anthemic choruses as evidenced on this track.
Overall, there are a lot of really nice tracks on the album and Helloween is doing themselves some justice as to keeping their legacy alive.
As far as the bonus tracks go, I really enjoy “Another Shot of Life” (available on the limited edition version of the album). It shows some chops on the solo and the song just has a nice vocal melody. Also, “Burning Sun,” (also available on the limited edition version of the album), is another fun track dedicated to the late Jon Lord. There is a nice riff leading into the high-pitched vocals during the verse.
Straight Out of Hell Track Listing:
02. World of War
03. Live Now!
04. Far From the Stars
05. Burning Sun
06. Waiting For the Thunder
07. Hold Me in Your Arms
08. Wanna Be God
09. Straight Out of Hell
12. Make Fire Catch the Fly
13. Church Breaks Down
14. Another Shot of Life [Limited edition bonus]
15. Burning Sun [Hammond version] [Dedicated to Jon Lord] [Limited edition bonus]
16. No Eternity [Japanese bonus]