Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

REVIEW: Helloween – Straight Out of Hell (remastered) (Musicalypse Archive)

On September 4th, 2020, (that’s tomorrow!) Nuclear Blast Records will release the remastered editions of three 10-or-so-year-old HELLOWEEN albums. Having already covered “Unarmed” (2009) and 7 Sinners (2010), that leaves the 2013 studio album “Straight Out of Hell,” which we are tackling today. Having not registered more than the first track on my radar since its release 7 years ago, this was a great opportunity to give this album a second chance.

This is a hefty 16-track album, even though one of those is an alternate version of another song. Straight off the bat, “Nabataea” is one of my favorite HELLOWEEN songs and one that I’ve often used to introduce the band to new potential fans. This track is a fabulous blend of everything good that HELLOWEEN has ever done, with shrieks reminiscent of classics like “Halloween” or heavy riffing, the likes of “The Dark Ride” (2000), this track has anything and everything you could want from the band in a tight 7-minute package.

The album manages to blend heavy and power together well with the next track, the bright and upbeat “World of War,” which talks about mankind’s seeming acceptable of war as an inevitability. “Live Now!” starts of with a surprisingly funky sound backed by really intriguing keyboard melodies. Nice guitar solos can be found here and there throughout the album, like in “Far from the Stars,” the title track, and “Church Breaks Down,” the former of which is a peppy speed metal song about the power of one’s beliefs (religious or otherwise). Admittedly, the vocals in “Burning Sun” are pretty strange and didn’t work for me personally, but you’ve got a strong desire to hear Andi Deris yell-singing, then this is a good song with which to have that experience.

“Waiting for the Thunder” starts out on a really strong piano melody, with poppier verses and again a wild change in Deris‘ vocal style, though this one is not abrasive. Also, really great chorus in this one – a definite highlight of the album. They take a gentler turn with “Hold Me in Your Arms,” a dynamic ballad that’s fairly beautiful, but doesn’t beat their best ballads like “Forever and One (Neverland).” “Wanna Be God” is a track about the strive for power that has always resonated for its simplicity, as it is mainly drum-driven with Deris‘ clear vocals rushing overtop. It’s a very unique song for HELLOWEEN and definitely one of the most interesting tracks on the album. “Straight Out of Hell” is kind of a typical HELLOWEEN song with a lot of familiar sounds dressed up a bit and a really great chorus. It’s a bit boring compared to the best of what this band can do, but works fairly well as a descriptor for what “Straight Out of Hell” sounds like overall, so in that way it’s a good choice for the title track.

Another one of the most unusual songs on the album is “Asshole,” which, after 7 years, I still can’t decide if I love or hate. Melodically it’s interesting with spicy electronic keyboards in the verses and a rather dramatic, heavy bridge. The chorus is just so… poppy? All of a sudden it’s very peppy and perky and bouncy. One way or the other, the band gets a lot of streams as I continuously listen to this song, trying to decide how I feel about it. Hard and heavy sounds push “Years” forward, with the rhythm section doing wonders to keep a heavy sound in the music’s overall tone. Markus Grosskopf‘s bass is a bit hidden but quite funky if you pay attention to it in the sound. The chorus is a pretty basic HELLOWEEN progression that has already been heard many times on this album and the albums that preceded it, so no surprises there.

“Make Fire Catch the Fly” is an interesting name and an even more interesting sound for a song about fear of rejection. This has one of the cooler choruses, with a really dark sound on top of the standard speedy drumming by Dani Löble. The use of keys is especially impactful in the instrumental part just following the chorus. “Church Breaks Down” is a more rockin’, heavy track than many of the other songs, and they crank up the drama a bit for “Another Shot of Life.” Apart from this, we’re getting to the end of a 16-track album, so this song would’ve needed to be a lot more interesting to feel relevant at this point, and it doesn’t offer enough to really be worth its place. The same goes for “No Eternity,” which feels like it could’ve been a bonus track, as it doesn’t offer anything new based on the rest of the album. The whole thing then finishes off with the Hammond edition of “Burning Sun,” which is very cool and URIAH HEEP in sound, but doesn’t make up for the weird vocals.

“Straight Out of Hell” is a decent Helloween album, without particularly having knocked it out of the park. There are only a few songs on this album that really hold a torch to their best material, despite the overall strength in sound the album has. There’s a fair bit of filler, but that’s honestly not unexpected on a 16-track album; they could have easily combined several of these songs to have a few more unique songs, as opposed to a large collection of medium+ tracks. That said, there are some interesting tidbits to be found within and it is a fairly upbeat, power metal-y album as compared to some of their darker material.

Written by Bear Wiseman
Musicalypse, 2020
OV: 262

Tracklist

  1. Nabataea
  2. World of War
  3. Live Now!
  4. Far from the Stars
  5. Burning Sun
  6. Waiting for the Thunder
  7. Hold Me in Your Arms
  8. Wanna Be God
  9. Straight Out of Hell
  10. Asshole
  11. Years
  12. Make Fire Catch the Fly
  13. Church Breaks Down
  14. Another Shot of Life
  15. No Eternity
  16. Burning Sun (Hammond version)

Lineup

Andi Deris – vocals

Michael Weikath – guitars

Sascha Gertsner – guitars

Markus Grosskopf – bass

Dani Löble – drums

Label

Nuclear Blast Records

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