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l o g o t y p e b y F r e d e r i c k
last update: 03.03.2013
The first time we heard here in Russia about the idea of another Keeper album was from Michael Weikath, the guitarist of Helloween, from his interview for our website in June of 2004. Since then, it has been a year and a half of waiting, of many expectations, arguments and various kinds of guesswork. As of me, I've had no expectations at all to be honest. I've had no idea concerning the forthcoming album. Moreover, I've had no idea what is it - I mean the "keeper thing" in general. Original Keepers have never been conceptual albums in the strict and modern sense of this word with well-defined story (like, for example, Rhapsody's "Emerald Sword Saga" etc). It's rather a kinda symbolistical conceptualism in the 70's way (like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, for example). And it's really difficult to measure such a philosophical, psychological and sensational subject by calculating the keys, "keeperish" guitar riffs, twin solos, Slavonic and Wagnerian melodies et cetera. It's like trying to understand the meaning of Mona Lisa's smile by measuring the painting with a ruler. I supposed that the new album could help me to understand - "Who is Mr. Keeper?". Surely, if it were called "Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part III". And if the Keeper creature opened its face, he-he! If ifs and ans were pots and pans… Perhaps, it doesn't matter anymore. Because I think that the Keeper thing is not the story of seven keys. At least, not only that, but something more.
The most cynical people have suspected that the Keeper idea is just a marketing trick. Some persons have hoped for the temporary re-union with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske as nostalgic or commercial thing. The most naive fans have waited for a real Keeper's clone. Maybe some people forgot that the band has changed since the end of 80's and the world around us is not the same either. And surely, the people who were waiting for the Keeper in a Rabbit-skin have lost this guess-game too... Thus, the musicians could have done a banal sequel of classical Keepers or the modern Rabbit but they've created The Legacy instead. They've done a huge leap forward but they are still true to themselves, they've kept the spirit of Helloween, something that we love for more than 20 years already. The band have not been afraid of some experiments but these don't frighten away their most conservative fans as it was with Chameleon or Dark Ride.
The Legacy is logically and physically divided in two parts (the dream of Keeper double-album came true?). On the first part, there are rather "keeperish" songs and the more "step-forward" things are on the second CD. I think, this division is more or less relative. Neither the old nor the new styles are really separable and the album sounds very integrated. Almost 80 minutes fly away without any effort, really easy, even though the album is so abundant with melodies, diverse feelings and different sound tricks. Many of them (for example, female vocals or rich keyboards arrangements) were impossible at the end of 80's, at least technically or psychologically. At that time too much keyboards in the heavy metal musiс could have been unacceptable for the fans. And as I've said before, in comparison with the original Keeper's period of time, the band members are not the same. They've had a long and winding road, they've grown up and have become more mature. Maybe, they've lost some illusions but they've got a lot more experience and wisdom. Surely, it has been reflected in music and lyrics.
However, the youngest and the newest members are not left behind their elder team-mates. Thus, Sascha Gerstner is fitting the band perfectly. Moreover, his three songs show some of the best true pumpkin sound and are included in the first CD. Meanwhile, the new and the innovative comes from Andi Deris and Michael Weikath (along with their traditional stuff). The guitar duet Weikath-Gerstner doesn't sound similar to the previous ones, it's got its own identity. And it isn't a bit behind them in terms of quality, speed and mastery. And maybe it sounds even better. Dani Loeble seems to be the best drummer. Sometimes it seems that the human being can't drum so fast and with such a skill but there's no computer that could beat such energy and spirit. So, the drums set the highest speed, the bass tries to get even ahead of them (the best rhythm section there ever was!), the guitar solos run faster and are more quick-tempered… and all the music on the whole runs with the speed and energy of a monorail train.
The Keeper itself still exists but not as a dominant. It's more like an allusion. This is a hint at that fact that good old Helloween have "come alive" and The Legacy has a good fundament - the long and diverse history of the band. We can find the keeperish elements in the lyrics (sometimes), in the vocal lines (suddenly), twin solos and surely in the positive mood even in the songs dedicated to the serious (social) matters. Some parts sound similar to Better Than Raw, The Dark Ride (without its dark mood), Rabbit Don't Come Easy, Andi Deris's Pink Cream 69, Deris's solo-works... Also the music is spiced up with elements and structures coming from the 70's. One can find glimpses of the 70's in the unexpected keyboard parts a-la Uriah Heep or Deep Purple. Or in "Do You Know What You're Fighting For?" with its allusions to Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, one of the most catchy and original songs on the album. All this various stuff unites into a diverse but integrated musical picture.
I think it's no use describing the album song by song, it's better to listen to it. It's very difficult to find the right words neither in English nor in my native Russian to explain such a great and symbolic thing. I must mention the very good structure of the album. Every song is in its own right place. Even the two long compositions at the beginning of each CD are understood very easily, both the more keeperish and helloweenish "King For A Thousand Years" and experimental "Occasion Avenue". I can say a lot about "Born On A Judgment Day" - a typical Weikath song like many other great ones (from "Eagle Fly Free" to "The Tune": musically optimistic songs about serious matters) but even faster and catchy. I can't forget "Come Alive" and "Get It Up" - the songs about good mood and easy existence... But I can't make my review too damn long! In brief I can say that there are no weak, no lame, no uncatchy or uninteresting pieces, everything is very good and well-placed. And especially the ending, "My Life For One More Day", the great final - fast, "happy-happy" and serious at the same time.
The Legacy is a happy and sad, good and evil, gay and serious, grown-up and childish album at once. And that's OK, the musicians have gone through a lot of things but they've kept the feel of joy of life and creation. In one of the recent interviews Andi Deris has told something about the good and evil… "Do You Know What You're Fighting For?" - asks the band... Maybe, the fight between the good and the evil is not finished yet. But Helloween have done their own fight, the fight for our hearts. And no doubt they have won. Perhaps, the meaning of the Keeper thing is following: to fight for the best things in our lives, to be true to yourself, to work hard for the things that you like, to do something great, old and new at the same time and to step forward not loosing the fidelity to the roots. They've already done it with original Keepers and they've done it again with The Legacy…
Author: Master Of Reviews
The album is released in Russia under the license by Soyuz company on 31st of October
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