The Dark Ride
posted on 9/2002 By:
The Dark Ride is a LONG time coming in the good old USA, but it has been WELL worth the wait. I had originally heard bits and pieces of the album through the internet, so it was a blessing to finally have the full album, and I received it for free through the glory that is college radio. For those of you who think you know what power metal is, you are in for a surprise, this latest Helloween offering is almost genre-redefining. The songs on The Dark Ride are like a lesser band's best-of album. It proves why Helloween is the front runner and arguably the best power metal band in existence. First of all, the production is absolutely amazing, it was recorded at "Mi Sueno Studios", the personal recording studio of singer Andi Deris. Every guitar chord is brought out to its fullest and emphasized perfectly. Andi Deris' vox are just incredible on this album, they are in my opinion his best ever. He goes from sort of a growl to a testicles-in-vice, glass shattering high note. Drummer Uli Kusch pummels you with an almost omnipresent double bass and some incredible speed and precision. The thing that is so captivating is the emotion involved in every song. Well, every song except for "Mr Torture", which is just a fun track. It is comparable to "Perfect Gentleman" off of Master Of The Rings, it is just sort of a joke track, with great music, but designed to just make you laugh and sing along with a couple of your power metal buddies. The rest of the tracks are serious though, and they have some excellent poetry that invokes a good deal of emotion. "Escalation 666" is by far their heaviest track ever, the topic is apparently about the inherent evil of mankind, betrayal, greed, etc. It just brings out sort of an angry hopelessness that we can all relate to. The track which was released as a single, "If I Could Fly", seems to be about finding yourself and what might have been. It's more of a ballad, but it has a great hook to it. Possibly the best track off the CD is the title track. It basically contemplates life itself, and clocking in at over 8 minutes, it is quite the grand, epic track, but it still leaves you wanting more. Even with all this praise of the single tracks, it is unfair to judge them separately, this disc was meant to be listened to in full. While not a concept album, it just begs to be played from start to finish. For all of you who hate how hokey power metal can get, this disc will shut your mouth with a giant pumpkin. Part of the reason why it seems you should listen to the whole CD may be because each song was written by only one person in the band, no song had any collaboration between any members. This is a cool idea, you get to see every member's personal style. Andi Deris has become an excellent songwriter since his induction into Helloween for The Master Of The Rings, and this album proves it. Michael Weikath is the most pure power metal minded of the group, as you can see with his songs "All Over The Nations" and "Salvation". The two ex-Helloween members, Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow, seem to be the heaviest metallers, they wrote the heaviest songs on here. Sadly they're gone now, they were taking Helloween in such a cool, heavy direction. There are no songs from bassist Markus Grosskopf, unfortunately. With this new direction of heaviness that Helloween has taken, I believe they have manufactured their best album to date. With the addition of drummer Mark Cross (of Metallium, which ironically enough covered Helloween's "Ride the Sky" on the tribute album The Keepers of Jericho) I believe they are still improving from what I consider to be the best power metal of their careers. There is a reason that the great Helloween is hailed as the best power metal band out there, and The Dark Ride is part of that reason. If you have ANY interest in power metal, or if you were ever at any time interested in Helloween, I highly suggest you go out and try to get your disgusting rat claws on this album, if not for your own enjoyment, then for mine, so that Helloween will have enough money to make me another magnificent album.
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