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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » Helloween - 1985 Walls Of Jericho
 
Helloween - 1985 Walls Of Jericho



ARTIST: Helloween
ALBUM: Walls Of Jericho
LABEL: Noise
SERIAL: N 0032-1
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1988, Noise, N0088 (plus many other reissues)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Kai Hansen - VRRR, GRRR * Michael Weikath - GRRR * Markus Grobkopf - DRRR * Ingo Schwichtenberg - DRRR

TRACK LISTING: 01 Walls Of Jericho * 02 Ride The Sky * 03 Reptile * 04 Guardians * 05 Phantoms Of Death * 06 Metal Invaders * 07 Gorgar * 08 Heavy Metal (Is The Law) * 09 How Many Tears

WEBLINKS: www.helloween.org


Background
Look at the description of the instruments the musicians are playing, this comes straight from the album cover and provides a pretty good indication of what to expect, lots of VRRR and GRRR. Do you also remember those crazy days of the Noise record label? The label was a stable of the young stallion bands that formed into supersonic thoroughbreds: Celtic Frost, Kreator and Rage, and of course this week's subject matter, Helloween.

Noise Records at one golden time in history were more prolific than the Godolphin horse stables, but that wasn't always the case, especially in their early days. Hellhammer and a number of other bands took an initial hammering, even though these bands are a piece of its history. As time progressed Noise turned the corner and in fact received more favourable coverage than which the Godolphin stables are currently receiving (I am referring to the doping of the horses by trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni). What many of these bands had in common was a geographical basis of central Europe, excellent covers and thanks to my local Our Price store (now a mobile telephone store.. why do we need so many of these faceless, most boring type of shops ever to open its shutters?) very high import prices.

Out of all these bands, I pinned my colours to the mast of the good ship Helloween (you expected me to say, those pirates, Running Wild!). These Germans always seemed to be in a perpetual state to entertain and quickly became the latest crush to many a Kerrang scribe.

I have gone for the first full Helloween album, which followed a mini EP only by 6 months or so, so they were as industrious as the German women's football team. At the time, Kai Hansen was solely taking care of vocals, before Michael Kiske was introduced some years later, when he had a full head of hair. This was always the genuine Helloween, with Hansen, the birth place, the raw Helloween, before they entertained the thought of gatefold covers, funny album titles, even songs, basically before they realised they could actually make a good living out of playing music. Bit like me, when I realise I could get paid for counting numbers, but have considerably less fun as Helloween were having.

Anyway, not surprising this has more in common with Gamma Ray than modern day Helloween, as Hansen has been driving his own band through a truckload of releases and took over full vocal duties when Ralf Scheepers formed another important musical DNA to the German story, that being Primal Fear.Much of this album is a top speed, with the odd moment of reflection, but it's high grade power metal, but one that is clean, no oily residue, precise, engineered, as reliant as Sebastian Vettel, unless of course it's wet conditions and he has Jenson Button breathing down his neck, then he is likely to make the odd error, i.e. Helloween have the same issues as some of the lyrics and subject basis is a bit dodgy. But just like Seb, Helloween were the team to beat, few came close, and while thrash seemed to be an American institution, Power Metal was more from a European birthplace, am I too wide of the mark with this assumption?

Like a divorced couple, Helloween and Gamma Ray still perform together, I suppose they do this for the songs (rather than the kids), I congratulate them both. Kiske and Deris maybe be better vocalists, but Hansen seems to be the more organic power metal sound, where clear dulcet tones wasn't always the number one priority. Beautiful cover, yes it's not in a flowers and landscapes sort of way, but one of the first that seemed to be inspired by Lord Of The Rings. These novels, in recent times has provided every extreme metal band with a suitable moniker depending how far they get through the book until they come across a name that has not already been used already.


The Songs
'Ride The Sky' is the perfect Helloween song, and nearly beats Accept's 'Fast As A Shark' As the ultimate German tune. Nearly but not quite, but I can sit and listen to a Helloween album more comfortably than an Accept album. Yes, the soloing is in the sense of who can play the fastest, and takes elements from the Mercyful Fate guys, but flows quicker than a British river after a month of rainfall in a day. The choir effect is perfect and gives some body to this cacophony of Teutonic brilliance.

Before I go any further let me catch up on that Accept point I just made. After listening to 'Restless And Wild' for the first time in almost 20 years, my argument has no consistency, in fact I am yet again talking absolutely rubbish. That quote I made, about not being able to listen to an Accept album, is the same as players signing for Manchester City due to the clubs history and the love of the club, (I'm still a romantic at heart, who believed in all this, I would've loved to have been snapped up by Newcastle, due to my Geordie grandparents). But let's face it German rock history is pretty easy to define, if no Scorpions, then no Accept. And if no Accept, no Helloween, if no Helloween, no Blind Guardian. I wish all countries metal and rock history bloodline was so easy to trace, the resulting TV documentary of 'Who Do You Think You Are' would be hard pushed to clock in at the hour mark.

'Reptile', sounding like a little brother to Rob Halford and Judas Priest, another turbo (!) driven opus, yes lyrically and subject matter its a bit limited, but who cares! The NWOBHM finish to this track shows where they started from but boy did they progress.

Even though 'Guardians' came from a similar mould, with more sub 4 minute tracks, at times it's a speeded up version of Virgin Steele as they were in their earlier days, but overall Virgin Steele were always more sedate.

To be able to stand far ahead of similar bands during this era, it was obviously Helloween were to add to their qualities. They truly extended themselves with the 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys' pairing, but that was obvious from the likes of 'Phantoms Of Death' that they were capable of so much more than just releasing 4 minute speed attacks. What is the most notable feature of this song are the sweeping keyboards, more waves than a surfer's wet dream. Again the guitars come crashing down, but the stop and starting bleeds early Metallica and Iron Maiden, but the feel is more linked to the German past of all these classical composers (you can see where my musical knowledge takes an abrupt end as I can't mention any!), the Diamond Head of the metal world.

'Metal Invaders' may sound like the latest game to fill up hours on your Commodore 64, but the graphics and icons were never as quick and the responses the Helloween guys managed to squeeze out of their instruments. Even Kai Hansen sings in parts higher than King Diamond, at the time they must have given the old English boys (Maiden and Priest) nightmares, with the seemingly endless energy, agility and speed (sound likes a comparison between the countries football teams).

Just a touch more relaxed, but only talking the introduction of 'Gorgar', this is more Metallica in throaty diesel exhaust fumes, in parts this showed a growing up but still maintaining a couple of immature aspects being the group choir of 'Gorgar' which just sounds dated and not for the first time they pinch a section from a classical composition.

Next up is Helloween's legislation of 'Heavy Metal (Is The Law)', probably get this passed as a statute rather than any other genres, just doesn't sound right.. swap Heavy Metal for AOR, folk and disco, just doesn't have the same effect, let alone putting this in a song. Anyway the solo, sounds like the Judas Priest track, 'Exciter', my favourite song of theirs. Good use of the live effect of a crowd, and a song that is still used in concerts today, simple, which still sounds relevant today. The likes of Steel Panther must be sobbing into their pillows by not being able to write an anthem like this, although I did like 'Death To All But Metal'.

Finishing with the classic blockbuster of 'How Many Tears' brings the album to a triumphant finale. Again another glimpse to the future, the extension of the length. This wholesome riffing and overall audio bombardment would be repeated across both the 'Keeper..' albums, the mellow sections, screamed to the echoes of the majesty of Iron Maiden and to a lesser degree Scorpions.


In Summary
Funny I brought the CD of this recently, but for this review, I was still reverting back to the vinyl edition, I know it sounds pompous, but it really did sound better on vinyl, especially with the gracious and beautiful cover in my hands. After this, Helloween would truly outstand the metal and rock world, by bringing out the first part of 'The Keeper Of The Seven Keys', which adorned with a gatefold sleeve would secure their future although this was found to be quite rocky at times, nothing was even straight forward with Helloween, the sad loss of Ingo Schwichtenberg, changing members, changing musical fashions, but they still released albums very regularly and over recent years regained the quality symbol on their albums. But for me, a young lad at the time of release, I still get back to this album to relive my youth and I feel 16 years again, just for that short while, before the the intro to Eastenders begins, the banging of doors by children who don't realise why door handles are fixed to doors, and the car screaming out to be cleaned and don't get me started about the grass in the garden that seems to grow in front of me while I'm looking at it. So, only one thing for it, grab a beer and play the mini EP from 1985, and as they say, 'Well I won't think about that today, I'll think of that tomorrow'.


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Comments
#1 | AOR Lee on August 08 2013 06:21:39
Sounds like a far cry from the Chameleon album I so enjoyed from the early 90's, interesting synopsis of their origins though
#2 | george_the_jack on October 14 2013 20:43:26
This debut showcased 2 things to the metal scene of the mid-80's regarding Helloween as a band. First is Hansen's role in the band, being the driving force and the primary songwriter during those days and secondly what Judas Priest meant as a basic influence for Hansen and the band at the time. Harsh sounding and very aggressive in places but at any case, very revealing of the band's potential and appetite.

Very nice review Chris. Would love to see the rest of their catalogue reviewed as well here in GD.

Being a lifelong fan of the Helloween legacy, I equally love both worlds of the band- Hansen/Kiske and also the Deris era. I have a significantly soft spot for Andi Deris and the elements he brought to the band when he jumped into the boat, transforming them from a primitive euro-power (on which they were pioneers) to a melodic rock/metal group. Nevertheless, I've grown up with the mysticism and atmosphere of the 2 Keepers which hold a noble place in my heart.

I also highly appreciate Kai Hansen and his post-Helloween days with early Gamma Ray. Saw him live with GR in the mid 90's while he was on tour to support the ''Land Of The Free'' release. Great gig. Great times.
#3 | gdazegod on October 14 2013 22:34:37
Let's not forget Iron Savior as well. Quite liked them too.
#4 | george_the_jack on October 15 2013 00:40:59
True George. I have only heard Iron Savior's debut when it was released. It was pretty good indeed but went pretty much overlooked at that tme as the 1995-1997 era was the best for Gamma Ray with the release of the excellent ''Land Of The Free'' and ''Somewhere Out In Space'' albums. Especially the SOIS album is brilliant certifying that short lived revival of the power metal scene in the mid-late 90's. Didn't last very long but was enough to resurrect some legends and give birth to many new others that was meant to become big names the years that followed.
 
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