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HELLOWEEN hails from Germany, and are living legends in the world of NWBHM. Starting out in 1982, it took them five years to become a household name in metal circles, with their third release "Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I". Musically, Helloween doesn't provide any drastic changes on this particular release, “Gambling with the Devil”. There's a good and well-balanced mix of catchy but hard hitting rockers, mid-paced epic power metal tunes and fast-paced aggressive power metal songs with crunchy and gritty guitar riffs. And a ballad complete with epic, power chorus. All songs are excellently performed and the band is experienced enough to sort out a balanced mix of drawn-out heavy chords, melodic riff patterns, harmony riff sections and soloing and aggressive staccato riffs with ease. Synths are added to flesh out the soundscapes as well as to enhance the melodies in most tunes and are utilized to create memorable moods and atmospheres in a well-thought out way. And although only two original members remain in the band, they continue writing the odd sections where Iron Maiden influences are easy to catch. The songwriting is inconsistent here, though. Helloween still manages to produce some excellent tunes: The slightly Metallica flavored IME is a brilliant track, As Long as I Fall is a radio-friendly metal tune with a catchy chorus, Paint a New World is a strong power metal composition with a good chorus, The Bells of the 7 Hells ventures into prog metal territories with numerous breaks and some really memorable atmospheric sections. The rest of the tunes aren't as strong, being less memorable in general, and there a few that have too many cliches to warrant repeated spins, at least for me. Fans of Helloween will surely enjoy this release though, and power metal fans that don't mind skipping a couple of tracks should also find this one a worthwhile acquisition. Others should check out “Gambling with the Devil” better before contemplating purchasing it and newcomers might want to check out some of the band's classic releases before this one.
OMB: November 17, 2008
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