Gambling With The Devil
posted on 11/2007 By:
At the beginning of most album reviews, we writers normally like to include a brief history lesson, or perhaps a whimsical anecdote or thoughtful musing about the artist. Frankly though, Helloween has way too much history to cover in a single paragraph, and I have no anecdotes or even musings about the German speed metal pioneers turned power metal warriors. Well, there was the time when two of my radio colleagues refused to play Sepultura’s double-live Under a Pale Grey Sky (or was it Prophecy by Soulfly?) because Max Cavalera had talked shit about Helloween. That’s pretty indicative of the passion that their fans have, though. They’ll admit when Helloween puts out a poor album, but don’t you ever take their name in vain. Following the lukewarm reception of the highly-anticipated but perhaps a decade-too-late Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy, it will be interesting to see how fans and critics respond to Gambling With the Devil. In my opinion, it is a worthy addition to their storied discography.
The tracks here run the usual gamut of Helloween material. There are the fast and heavy tracks like “Kill It,” “The Saints,” “Dreambound,” “Paint a New World,” and “The Bells of the Seven Hells,” the latter two representing the best of this set. Along the way, we also get a few of those “not-quite-ballads” that they like to do, in the form of “As Long As I Fall” and “Fallen to Pieces.” These are actually damn good in their own right, with the latter using orchestral elements to power its chorus along with a well-delivered vocal line. Then there are a few tracks that fall somewhere in between. The one glaring exception – the sore thumb; the black sheep, if you will – is “Can Do It.” I’m sure this was written with the best intentions as a driving, upbeat anthem, but it ends up sounding more like something you might hear at one of those middle-school motivational assemblies, as lights flash and pictures of youth succeeding at things they do are projected onto a screen. It may be the most bubblegum thing they’ve recorded since “Heavy Metal Hamsters,” but it is also only a minor blemish on an otherwise solid album.
Gambling With the Devil should please the Helloween faithful, starting with it’s non-embarrassing album title (do YOU know anybody that could say “Rabbit Don’t Come Easy” with a straight face?), on through a set of songs that will latch immediately onto your brain, both the memory bank and the nerve center that controls all of the big rock moves (horns, headbanging, pumping fists, air guitar). The next time some young kid in a Dragonforce shirt tells you they’re the greatest band ever, whip a little Helloween on ‘em - that oughta put the little bastard in his place.
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