640x640It’s time for Helloween to start providing reasons why they should continue to exist. We’re now three albums past their supposed comeback effort Gambling with the Devil, and now they’re barely getting dressed for work. Not only have you already heard this entire album many times before, including bonus tracks, but their occasionally experimental touches actually repulse you back towards their more familiar songs. Yeah, this is the kind of album where you hang on to the fillers for comfort.

“Heroes” sets a generic tone for a generic album…bouncy main riff, 16th note double bass, snare on the 2 and the 4, shouty gang chorus with lots of multiband compression…it’s not offensive, but I’ve heard it SO many times before (contrast with “Saber and Torch” by Edguy, “Army of the Night” by Powerwolf, “Far Away” by Battle Beast…and those are songs released in the past year alone) that its impossible to muster much excitement.

“Battle’s Won” and the title track are tolerable and fast. Maybe tolerable because they’re fast – an acceptable baseline for a Helloween song these days is “doesn’t overstay its welcome.” Then the album really starts to come apart. Track after track of Deris-penned composed filler tracks, all of them bouncing along at a fairly fast clip and all of them feeling utterly interchangeable. In “Lost in America” they just repeat the chorus of “Who is Mr Madman” with different words. Fuck off, guys. If I wanted a glorified cover band I’d listen to Unisonic.

As often happens these days, Weikath saves the album a bit. I liked the Boston-sounding “Creatures in Heaven”, and the savage and energetic “Claws” – which retells “Eagle Fly Free” from a less idealistic and more primal standpoint. Romanticise eagles if you want, but never forget the claws. “You, Still of War” is cute. Don’t know if you’d put her in a major movie, but you’d fuck her on the casting couch.

Basically, we’re spoiled for choice in 2015, and we can and should expect better than makeweight efforts from nostalgic past giants. In a world where Black Majesty, Battle Beast, and Rhapsody represent the state of the art, Helloween seems dated and old – a jalopy on a scalper’s lot with a new coat of paint. Two or three genuinely interesting songs, and for the rest I’m struggling to stay awake. It’s not “My God Given WRONG hurr hurr”, but we’re getting there.

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