Album Reviews : Helloween – Unarmed: 25th Anniversary Best Of
Helloween celebrate their 25th anniversary this year by releasing their long awaited revamped best of album, “Unarmed”. In all honesty its not what I was expecting. The concept is great and really shows the band in a new light, yet I’m sure will leave many die-hard fans confused.
The opening track ‘Dr.Stein’ has been given a facelift with the band going into a more blues and jazz orientated direction from the songs original concept. The addition of saxophones makes it a very straight forward but thoroughly enjoyable song with some Helloween esque humor and innuendo added for good measure on the songs official video.
The album is essentially all Helloween’s classics with an acoustic and orchestral approach with the help from a 70-piece Prague Symphony Orchestra performing ‘The Keepers Medley’. The ‘Keepers’ medley is honestly the best piece of work on the album, more so with the addition of the nicely placed orchestral undertones and just sounds amazing. It consists of the tracks ‘Halloween’, ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’ and ‘The King for 1000 Years’ and plays out for an astounding 17 minutes.
The emphasis of power from the majority of original tracks has been dramatically stripped back to a straight forward rock and groove ballad sound, which is mildly entertaining at times. Think of it as “Chameleon” version 2.0 but not as overly disappointing. Tracks like ‘Future World’, ‘Eagle Fly Free’ and ‘Where The Rain Grows’ still hold their distinct sound yet not a lot is going on to keep your attention. Some songs don’t even sound like they’ve been through much of a transition. For instance, ‘If I Could Fly’ and ‘Forever and One’ literally sound like the originals, yet not as melodramatic with some minor tweaks added. They’re quite catchy though and infuse some nice jazz and piano elements.
The album borders on somewhat of an easy listening or lounge music motif. It actually sounds alright, but it all depends if you like the direction in which the band have headed. It does offer some pretty cool concepts, but as an obsessed Helloween fan I couldn’t really appreciate this album for what its worth. Don’t get me wrong, the band have done an amazing job, but in all honesty I would have rather seen a continuation of the Keeper’s legacy or just another straight forward Helloween release.
Having said that the production on “Unarmed” is perfect. Solid work from long time accompaniment Charlie Bauerfeind. The addition of some guests adds to the flavor of the album, yet sadly I’m sure no one has ever heard of them. It’s a solid release and deserves a few listens before you can really appreciate it. 7.5/10
For fans of: Queen, Gamma Ray, Dream Theater
Albums: Unarmed: 25th Anniversary Best Of
Genre: Power Metal
Label: SPV/Sony BMG
1. Dr. Stein
2. Future World
3. If I Could Fly
4. Where the Rain Grows
5. The Keeper’s Trilogy <- Reviewer’s choice
6. Eagle Fly Free
7. Perfect Gentleman
8. Forever And One (Neverland)
9. I Want Out
10. Fallen to Pieces
11. A Tale that Wasn’t Right