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Album Reviews : Helloween – Gambling with the Devil

By on July 16, 2009

Helloween - Gambling with the DevilGambling with the Devil is Helloween‘s 13th studio album. Many would question the albums sound at first glance, as it incorporates more darker elements than its predecessor, ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy’.

To be honest, I haven’t heard a “dark” Helloween album since 2000’s  ironic album title, ‘The Dark Ride’, which many were confused with, as it was one of the bands most melancholy and sombre albums ever made. It completely went in the other direction compared to their typical empowering and uplifting  material.

‘Gambling with the Devil’ starts off with an introduction by Biff Byford of Saxon fame, who plays the figure of the devil. We are taken to a carnival setting where fireworks and brightly light amusements are used as a distraction, much like television and other misguided systems in our everyday life. This concept is also used as the main album artwork which depicts the devil as a short, sleazy salesman.

From a musical point of view, the album is a lot more aggressive than past releases, especially the opening track ‘Kill It’. For me personally, I found ‘Kill It’ to be one of Helloween‘s strongest, and heaviest songs to date, albeit with a harmonizing chorus which is similar to their 1998’ classic ‘Push’.

Andi Deris pushes his vocal chords to the limit to produce a somewhat raspy and rough vocal style for the opening track, which could border on the limitations of black metal composition.

Musically, the song, ‘Kill It’ is tough. It has a great punch to it with its powerful drumming from Dani Loble, and the bands quintessential wall of sound from guitarists Micheal Weikath, Sascha Gerstner and Marcus Grosskopf. Analyzing the lyrics, the song emphasizes the struggle man has with life…we try our best to do good, yet there is always someone behind watching us, waiting to bring us down.

Helloween‘s political, social and spiritual views are still quite embedded in the entirety of the album. The single,”As Long As I Fall” would be considered the bands most controversial song on the album, as it questions the moral dilemma people have with courage and independence of themselves, or lack thereof.

The metaphor of the title explains that people who believe they are in doubt of themselves, or “falling” would continue to do so, rather than seek help or try to change their outlook on life. The message of the song has many meanings, others would probably see the meaning do to more with a drug addiction, rather than a social problem. Whatever way you look at it though, it does make you question what people really go through in their everyday lives.

‘The Saints’ uses a great perspective with its lyrics. The song is about good ridding evil, with “evil” tormenting us in the verse, while “good” saving us in the chorus.

Considered to be a continuation, the tracks ‘Paint a New World’, ‘Final Fortune’ and ‘The Bells of the 7 Hells’ emphasize the battle between good and evil, more so with ourselves, than with any spiritual deities. This key message is quite fluid throughout the main emphasis of the album.

‘Paint a New World’ would have to be considered the bands new ‘Eagle Fly Free’, from my point of view. Utilizing the bands formidable uplifting chorus’ and power metal musicianship, with lyrics which question the fundamental laws of our existence. Again, the emphasis of aggression is used in the track, as the lyrics remind me so much of Peter Finch’s “I’m as mad as hell” speech in the movie ‘Network’, questioning why the world is so unbalanced, and we do nothing to make a change.

‘Final Fortune’ pulls back a lot of the aggression however, with the addition of keyboards to add atmosphere. Oddly enough, keyboards play a bigger role in ‘Gambling with the Devil’ then any of Helloween‘s recent releases. Using both classical and synthetic, which add more variety to the structure of the album.

In the later duration of the album, things are mixed up, but for the better. Not only in the direction of music, but also lyrically. We are treated to more uplifting lyrics and music, as the aggression and power is used in the first half of the album. This adds great contrast, as it add equilibrium to the albums concept of “good” and “evil”.

One of the most radio friendly tracks on the album, ‘I.M.E.’ adds resolution to the main message of the album, while the quirky and somewhat cheesy track ‘Can Do It’ reminds me so much of an Andrew W.K. song. The song is fun, but to be honest does not really need to be on the album.

Many would question the bands fundamental views of spiritually, freedom and politics, as many of the bands songs are based on somewhat of a Christian mindset, yet when you really understand their lyrics, they too are questioning their beliefs. It sounds silly, but whenever I’m down or feel somewhat imbalanced, I can always turn to Helloween to cheer me up and empower me with their amazing music.

Seriously, I haven’t been so impressed with an album in a very long time. With a band that has been around since the dawn of the heavy metal movement in the early 80’s, and is considered to be the main inspiration behind the power metal genre, its no wonder that these guys can still create amazing music, both lyrically and musically in this day and age. 9/10

Band: Helloween
Album: Gambling with the Devil
Year: 2007
Genre: Power Metal
Label: SPV/Riot! Entertainment
Origin: Germany
www.myspace.com/helloween

Tracklisiting:

1. Crack the Riddle (Intro)
2. Kill It
3. The Saints
4. As Long As I Fall
5. Paint a New World <- Reviewer’s Choice
6. Final Fortune
7. The Bells of the Seven Hells
8.  Fallen to Pieces
9. I.M.E.
10. Can Do It
11. Dreambound
12 .Heaven Tells No Lies

About

Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal Obsession.net. When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook