Helloween – Unarmed: Best Of – 25th Anniversary Review

This is truly a tale that wasn’t right…

Helloween fans, I ask you these: have you ever wondered what “Dr. Stein” would sound like with an 80s Glenn Frey sax lead? Ever wished “Halloween” and “Keeper Of The Seven Keys” were one long song, mostly performed by an orchestra, that segued in and out of a loping choral sing-along? Ever thought that instead of being a speed-metal classic, “I Want Out” should be a vaguely danceable semi-electronic track with its chorus backed by a lackluster children’s choir? Ever considered “Future World” as a half-acoustic, almost country-rock-ish tune?

You know what… I’ll answer my own questions. No, you haven’t. And if you had, you wouldn’t admit it. Because … because… well, why would you? (Maybe the “Seven Keys” thing isn’t such a stretch, but the rest are just baffling…)

Apparently bored with riding the upswing of Gambling With The Devil, the best album they’ve released in a decade, Helloween decided that, in lieu of a new offering, they’d plunder their back catalogue, commemorating their 25th anniversary by revisiting, re-recording and, in turn, largely rendering completely ridiculous some of the grandest moments from those golden years. I’m not one to immediately dismiss a band re-recording their prior work–the Exodus revision of Bonded By Blood was surprisingly listenable (if still completely unnecessary), as was the Testament foray into similar waters. But with maybe two or three exceptions, each of these new versions of a Helloween classic is misguided in a manner so laughable that it saddens me, long-time Helloween fan that I am. The only redeeming qualities are these: one, “The Keeper’s Trilogy” actually kind of works as a symphony, as bombastic as it is. Two, “Where The Rain Grows” and “Why” also actually sort of work in their stripped-down forms. And three, my personal favorite Helloween tune (“Ride The Sky”) was omitted and left alone.

Technically, the production is great; the songs are top-notch — some of them are among the best in the history of European melodic metal; the musicianship in this band is and has always been first-class. We don’t have a numerical rating bar for “overall concept,” but if we did, Unarmed would get about a 2 out of 10. Unarmed is just your typical case of a well-produced, well-played album of great songs that is still a confounding and resounding mistake, one that mostly sucks in ways I never thought this rightfully legendary band could suck. (And I’d already heard Chameleon.)

Now, if you’ll forgive me, I’m just gonna go listen to Walls Of Jericho and forget this ever happened…

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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