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08 July 2012

Helloween

Helloween is a German power metal band founded in 1984 by members of Iron Fist and Powerfool. The band was a pioneering force in the European Power Metal movement and their second and third studio albums, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1 and Pt.2, are considered masterpieces of the genre.
Since its creation, the band has released fourteen studio albums and has undergone some line-up changes. Former members have gone on to found numerous bands, including Gamma Ray, Iron Savior, Masterplan and Unisonic.

Walls of Jericho (1984-1986)

Helloween formed in 1984 in Hamburg, Germany. The original line-up included Kai Hansen on vocals and guitar, Michael Weikath on guitar, Markus Grosskopf on bass, and Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums. That year, the band signed with Noise Records and recorded two songs for a Noise compilation record called Death Metal. The compilation featured the bands Hellhammer, Running Wild, and Dark Avenger. The two tracks were "Oernst of Life" by Weikath and Hansen's "Metal Invaders," a faster version of which would appear on the band's first full-length album.
Helloween recorded and released its first record in 1985, a self-titled EP containing 5 tracks. Also that year, the band released its first full-length album, Walls of Jericho. During the following concert tour, Hansen had difficulties singing and playing the guitar at the same time. Kai's last recording as the band's lead singer was in 1986 on an EP titled Judas, which contained the song "Judas" and two other live tracks. Following these releases, Helloween began the search for a new vocalist.

Keeper of the Seven Keys, Parts I & II (1986-1989)

The band found an 18-year-old singer, Michael Kiske, from a local Hamburg band named Ill Prophecy. With their new lead singer in tow, Helloween approached record labels Noise International and RCA and proposed the release of a double-LP to introduce the new line-up. This proposition was turned down. Instead, they recorded a single LP, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I, which was released in 1987. In 1988, Helloween released Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II, the companion album. MTV put the single "I Want Out" into heavy rotation and in support of its "Headbanger's Ball" show. MTV also presented the inaugural Headbanger's Ball Tour with Helloween joining San Francisco Bay area thrash-metal band Exodus in support of headlining act Anthrax. The band was slotted in the prestigious second spot, right before Anthrax's set. On the heels of this exposure to US audiences, the band achieved worldwide success.
Guitarist Kai Hansen unexpectedly left the band soon after the European leg of the Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II tour, due to conflicts within the band, troubles with Noise International, and a growing dissatisfaction with life on tour. He was soon replaced by former Rampage guitarist Roland Grapow, who finished the rest of the tour with the band.

Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon (1989-1993)

In 1989 the band released a live album called Live in the U.K. (Keepers Live in Japan and I Want Out Live in the United States), featuring material from its 1988 European tour. The remaining members continued on, but ran into label problems with Noise, and after litigation kept them from touring and releasing new material, they were eventually released from their contract. A new album would not appear until 1991 when, after several rumors about the band's breaking up, they released Pink Bubbles Go Ape for their new record company, EMI. The album was less heavy, and with song titles such as "Heavy Metal Hamsters", "I'm Doing Fine, Crazy Man", and "Shit and Lobster", showed a shift toward — and an emphasis on — humor rather than the epic moods on previous releases. As a result, Pink Bubbles Go Ape failed both commercially and critically, and tensions started to build amongst the band members.[1]
The pop-influenced follow-up Chameleon was released in 1993. Instead of taking a heavier approach, the band ventured into new territory, eschewing its signature double-guitar harmonies for synthesizers, horns, acoustic guitars, a children's chorus, country music and swing. As with the previous album, Chameleon failed commercially and critically.[1] Tensions within Helloween worsened, and the band split into three factions, with Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg on one side, Michael Weikath and Roland Grapow on the other, and Markus Grosskopf in the middle, trying to keep peace between the four men.

Kiske's departure

Shortly after, the band began to disintegrate. During the Chameleon tour, the band would often play to half-filled venues. Drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg fell ill due to mental and drug-related issues, and was eventually fired, replaced by session drummer Ritchie Abdel-Nabi. Meanwhile, the conflicts within the rest of the band worsened, with Michael Weikath refusing to work any longer with Michael Kiske. The decision was made to fire Kiske. Since his firing, Kiske has not spoken positively about Helloween. In May 2008, Kiske released Past In Different Ways; an album featuring most of his old Helloween songs, albeit rearranged and re-recorded acoustically.
In addition to the firing of Kiske, Abdel-Nabi, whose inability to replicate Schwichtenberg's machine-gun style of drumming hindered Helloween's ability to play live fan-favorites like "Eagle Fly Free" and "How Many Tears", was let go by the band. 1993 would come to a close for Helloween with no singer, no drummer, and no record contract (EMI released the band from its agreement for the low sales numbers for Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon).

Master of the Rings, The Time of the Oath and Better Than Raw (1994-1999)

Helloween returned in 1994 with former Pink Cream 69 frontman Andi Deris as its new lead singer and Uli Kusch, formerly of Kai Hansen's Gamma Ray, on drums. Deris had been approached by Weikath to join the band in 1991, but he had declined, despite being intrigued by the offer and having to deal with emerging conflicts between him and his band. In the years since, however, Kiske was fired from Helloween and the issues within Pink Cream 69 worsened. Faced with the inevitability of his firing, Deris accepted Weikath's offer. Despite not possessing the four-octave range boasted by Kiske, Deris's vocal similarity to Kai Hansen, his enthusiasm, his strong songwriting skills, the return of the "classic" Helloween sound in songs such as "Where the Rain Grows" and "The Game Is On", and the seeming rejuvenation of Weikath and Grapow seemed to strike a chord with the fans. With this new lineup and a new record contract with Castle Communications, Helloween released its comeback album, Master of the Rings.
In 1995, original drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg committed suicide by jumping in front of a train in his native Hamburg. In the years since his departure from Helloween, Schwichtenberg had gotten involved in drug-use and suffered from depression. Dedicated to his memory, 1996's The Time Of The Oath re-established the band as one of the most popular European metal bands (see 1996 in music). Following another world tour, a double live album called High Live was released. In 1998 Helloween released Better Than Raw, one of the band's heaviest albums since the full-length debut. The subsequent supporting tour was made up of stops in Europe, Japan, and Brazil, but on December 20, 1998, the band visited New York and played a show at the venue Coney Island High in Manhattan, the first show for Helloween in the United States in nearly a decade. The band would follow Better Than Raw with a 1999 release titled Metal Jukebox, a cover-album featuring Helloween's versions of songs from such bands as Scorpions, Jethro Tull, Faith No More, The Beatles, ABBA, and Deep Purple.

The Dark Ride and Rabbit Don't Come Easy (2000-2004)

The year 2000 saw the release of The Dark Ride, a more experimental and darker album than their previous releases. It came complete with downtuned guitars and a gruffer singing style from Deris. Immediately following the tour, Helloween parted ways with guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch. One version of events states that Weikath, Deris and Grosskopf felt that Kusch and Grapow, in particular, were spending more time on and paying more attention to their new side-project, Masterplan (Grapow's output on Helloween albums had dropped to barely one song per album by that point); since the others believed that Kusch and Grapow were not 100% dedicated to Helloween they were dismissed. Another version states that Grapow and Kusch had pushed to continue the direction that the band had taken with The Dark Ride and that Weikath, not wanting a repetition of the Kiske situation, huddled with Deris and Grosskopf, whereby the decision was made to get rid of them. In any case, they were fired, via e-mail (with Grapow's wife finding out before he did that he had been fired), and decided to make Masterplan their full-time band. They were replaced by guitarist Sascha Gerstner (ex-Freedom Call, Neumond), and drummer Mark Cross (ex-Metalium, Kingdom Come, At Vance, Firewind), culminating with the recording of another studio album, titled Rabbit Don't Come Easy, in 2003. Cross could not finish the album due to mononucleosis, completing only two tracks; the drum tracks were completed by Motörhead's Mikkey Dee. Stefan Schwarzmann, former drummer of Running Wild and Accept would shortly thereafter take over the drumming duties. Despite a somewhat tepid response to the album, Helloween nonetheless completed a successful world tour, highlighted by the return of classic songs such as "Starlight", "Murderer", "Keeper of the Seven Keys" and "How Many Tears" to the setlist. Additionally, the band toured the United States for the first time since 1989 playing to sold-out crowds at nearly every venue.

Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy and Gambling with the Devil (2005-2008)

2005 saw yet another line-up change, following the "Rabbits on the Run" tour, as it became apparent that Helloween and Stefan Schwarzmann did not share the same musical vision. As further noted by the band, he had some trouble performing fast drum parts, so he was replaced by Dani Löble, the former drummer of German metal band Rawhead Rexx. A change in record company also followed as they inked a deal with German label SPV. Any fears that what had now become a revolving door of band members would affect the quality of their new album were laid to rest as Helloween's new studio album, titled Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy, was released on October 28, 2005 in Germany, and November 8 in the U.S.A. to commercial and critical acclaim. The album had a pre-release single, "Mrs. God", as well as a video for the track. The track "Light the Universe" was released as a single on November 22, featuring Candice Night of Blackmore's Night on guest vocals. She also appears in the video clip for that track.
In late 2006, Helloween filmed and recorded shows in São Paulo (Brazil), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Tokyo (Japan), for their live album Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006. The DVD also featured extra footage of the band as well as interviews and a road movie. This is the second Helloween live album to feature Andi Deris as frontman, and third overall. It enjoyed chart success in several countries: Germany: 9 (DVD) & 58 (CD), Sweden: 9 (DVD), France: 10 (DVD)[2] Helloween has since completed their studio album Gambling with the Devil, which was released on October 23, 2007. It received many positive reviews, with most fans praising the album as being one of the best Deris era albums. Despite being one of Helloween's heaviest albums, it is noted for featuring more keyboards. "As Long as I Fall", the first single, was released in early September and available only via download (save for Japan, where it was released on CD). The video for the song is available at their official site.[3]
Helloween teamed up with Kai Hansen's current band Gamma Ray for their 2007/2008 "Hellish Rock" world tour, which started in early November 2007. Helloween were headlining and Gamma Ray were labeled as the "very special guest" with most shows also having fellow German "guest" Axxis. The tour went through Europe, Asia, South America as well as a few dates in the US. The tour is notable for Kai Hansen stepping on stage with his former band fellows Weikath and Grosskopf to perform hits "I Want Out" and "Future World" in the last encore segment of Helloween.[4]

Unarmed - Best of 25th Anniversary (2009)

On December 26, 2009, Helloween released the Unarmed – Best of 25th Anniversary album in Japan. The album was released on February 1, 2010 in Europe. The album is a compilation of 10 of the band's best known songs, re-recorded in different musical styles than the original recordings and by the current lineup. It features a 17 minute "Keepers Medley", recorded by a 70 piece orchestra from Prague, mixing together "Halloween", "The Keeper of the Seven Keys", and "The King For 1000 Years". There is a limited edition digipak, including a 30 minute "making of"-DVD with interviews and studio footage. The bands website states that the album was released on April 13, 2010 in North America via Sony & THE END RECORDS labels.[5] On May 14, 2010, it was announced on their site that they are working on a new studio album,[6] which would be their fastest and heaviest effort in years.

7 Sinners (2010-2011)

Helloween released their thirteenth studio album, 7 Sinners, on October 31 in Europe and November 3 in the US. Before its physical release, the band made it available worldwide for streaming via its Myspace page. The name of the album alludes to the seven deadly sins which, according to Andi Deris, it goes straight to the point "after an acoustic album, we needed definitely something that shows the people without any question that this is a metal album".[7] The band has started a tour to promote the album. They are joined in concerts by Stratovarius and Trick or Treat/Pink Cream 69 as their guests.[8][9] Its been announced on April 5, 2011, Via the bands website that 7 Sinners has now been awarded 'Gold status' in Czech republic alone.[10] The band announced that after their European tour ended they would start to write and record a new album.

New album (2012-2013)

As of June 2012, Helloween is in the studio recording their fourteenth album, which is due for release in early 2013.[11]

Members





Current members
Additional musicians
  • Matthias Ulmer – keyboards (2007–present)
  • Eddy Wrapiprou – keyboards (2010-present)

Former members

Timeline

Discography

References

External links


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