HELLOWEEN — Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I

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HELLOWEEN - Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I cover
4.35 | 105 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 1987

Filed under Power Metal


1. Initiation (1:19)
2. I'm Alive (3:23)
3. A Little Time (4:00)
4. Twilight of the Gods (4:30)
5. A Tale That Wasn't Right (4:44)
6. Future World (4:03)
7. Halloween (13:20)
8. Follow the Sign (1:47)

Total Time: 37:09

2006 Remastered/Expanded edition Bonus Tracks:
9. Victim Of Fate (Single b-side)
10. Starlight (Remix)
11. A Little Time (Alternative version)
12. Halloween (video edit)


- Michael Kiske / vocals
- Kai Hansen/ guitars
- Michael Weikath / guitars
- Markus Grosskopf / bass
- Ingo Schwichtenberg / drums

Guest musician:

- Tommy Hansen / emulator

About this release

Release date: May 23rd, 1987
Label: Noise Records

Thanks to Time Signature, [email protected], adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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Kind of mixing their first album and Fates Warning’s output, Helloween play fast, technical and progressive music here, but also make room for softer, catchier numbers. The aggression of their debut has been traded in for uplifting triumph. The album is a very eclectic package despite only having 6 full songs, and one would not want for variety here. The problem there is that the material is not very consistent, with their highs being fantastic and the lows just okay. The new vocalist is a welcome addition, but even he has some pitchy moments and questionable vocal melodies between the usually solid performance.

The track “Halloween” is actually a talking point in itself, being one of the most progressive epics in all of Metal at the time. At over 13 minutes, the song shifts through so many movements, it’s about as eclectic as the rest of the album. The difference here is that the track is very consistent throughout, full of the band’s best riffs and greatest vocal performance on the album. Really, there couldn’t be a better way to sing about Halloween.
Conor Fynes
'Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I' - Helloween (8/10)

Although their first album “Walls of Jericho” has earned a well-deserved spot as a metal classic, it was Helloween's sophomoric release “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I” and its like-titled sequel that engraved their place as the kings and overseers of power metal. It would be blind to say that power metal as a style of music had not been around for a few years before this, but never before had the genre been defined so overtly. With that being said, it is an essential bit of metal history, and regardless of contemporary opinion positive or negative, anyone any bit interested in the speedier, melodic side of the heavy metal spectrum would do well to give it a good, intent listen. Even outside of its historical context, Helloween’s second album is a memorable, impressive record. However, in spite of its significance and defacto ‘masterpiece’ status, it is not an album without some faults to keep it from achieving that bliss I’ve experienced with some of metal’s other god-tier albums.

Since the album’s release, power metal has become one of the most popular (and yet infamous; funny how that works?) styles of metal out there. Love it or hate it, it’s likely you already have an idea of what the genre’s all about. Melodies, often neoclassically-influenced guitar work and cheese enough to feed France for a year tend to be the basics, and “Keeper of the Seven Keys” is in no short supply of any ingredient. To modern ears, there is more of a traditional, anthemic heavy metal pomp at work, but from the album’s post-intro opener “I’m Alive” onward, Helloween’s best elements tend to be the ones that influenced the power genre later on.

The most evident change in the band’s sound since the debut is the introduction of vocalist Michael Kiske, whose high-pitched wails and falsettos would be integral in crafting the power metal formula. Although Kai Hansen’s gruff vocals fit “Walls of Jericho”s quasi-thrash approach, Helloween’s updated sound on “Keeper of the Seven Keys” is far more refined. Giving the impression at times of a neoclassical heavy metal symphony, Michael Kiske’s fully-fleshed falsetto is a perfect companion. It’s made even more impressive by fact of his youth during the recording of this album; although there are arguably a few power metal vocalists that managed to perfect the singing style even further, I can’t think of any that did it when they were 19 years old! “Twilight of the Gods” is Kiske’s brightest-shining moment on the album, particularly during the soaring chorus, where his high register is complimented gorgeously by a subtle choral backup. In terms of performance and production, “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I” is impeccable. Unfortunately, there’s a point where the album’s excellence runs out. It’s not necessarily the songwriting itself that is the problem, so much as its inconsistency. “Keeper...” never quite hits the level of true filler, but there’s a significant gap between the songs that melt faces, and the ones that don’t do so much. As mentioned earlier, “Twilight of the Gods” is one of the best things the album has to offer, beautifully integrating melody and neoclassical metal- two things that rarely work so well together. “I’m Alive” is effective in its straightforwardness, and the epic “Halloween” has enough brilliant ideas to make a track twice its length interesting. It’s granted and forgiven that the intro and outro are fairly forgettable, but that leaves two songs that don’t do nearly as much for me. “A Little Time”, and particularly the lame power ballad “A Tale That Wasn’t Right” are not terrible, but lack the sophistication and cleverness that the rest do. Perhaps not so coincidentally, these are also the only two tracks that guitarist Kai Hansen did not write. Perhaps it’s not fair to the Hansen-penned tunes to rob “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part One” of a ‘masterpiece’ declaration on the demerit of these two, but it’s difficult to give the album the commendation when half of the album’s first side consists of relative mediocrity.

Regardless, “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part One” deserves its classic recognition, and in spite of a couple of less brightly shining stars among the sky, Helloween’s second album remains an excellent staple for epic, cheese-infused listening. Kai Hansen’s guitar work is brilliant, and Kiske’s vocals are an inspiration to power metal wailers everywhere. If you haven’t already, don’t wait as long as I did to check it out, and do so as soon as you can!
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I is the second album by German power metal act Helloween. The album, released in 1987, along with its direct follow-up Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II (1988), is widely considered to be power metal’s groundbreaking release(s). For Helloween it marks a noticeable shift into a fully fledged power metal style, which now, in 2012, they are regarded to have pioneered. The album also introduces Michael Kiske to the group’s line-up, replacing Kai Hansen as the lead vocalist while Hansen remained as a guitarist. Although Kiske would only record four albums with the band, and two of those not as well regarded by a large portion of the Helloween fanbase as the two Keeper albums, he is still widely regarded as the true voice of Helloween.

And honestly it’s not hard to hear why. Kiske represents which would become the typical vocal style of power metal. Clear singing and with a high vocal resister. He was and still is one of the best in the game and with a performance miles ahead of Hansen’s natural abilities (Hansen would improve by the time he took over vocals in Gamma Ray), Helloween’s music is catapulted into classic status, with Kiske doing for Helloween what Bruce Dickinson did for Iron Maiden. And it’s undeniable that’s just what Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I is, a true classic album. Setting the standard high for the masses of power metal bands that would follow them with classic tracks such as I’m Alive and Future World, as well as having the odd quirky moment such as A Little Time, I’m not sure how anyone, regardless of whether they like the band/album or even the genre, could deny the importance of the album on the metal scene as a whole.

The album’s masterpiece track though is Halloween. Lasting for over thirteen minutes, a trait which would be repeated on the next album with the Keeper of the Seven Keys title track, the track represents the most epic side of power metal. It’s a much shorter track, Follow the Sign, that actually closes the album but really Halloween feels like the true conclusion to this early power metal masterpiece, like everything else, as amazing as it is, was only building up to this point. I guess that’s doing the rest of the album a major injustice, because every moment of Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I is top tier quality and more than that the songs all have an excellent flow between each other. It’s a very easy album to listen to many times over and still enjoy it like it’s your first listen. More than that even Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I remains about as perfect a power metal album as you will ever find.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))
Michael Kiske's debut with Helloween sees the band adopting their legendary power metal style, which in this early version essentially consists of "take Iron Maiden's formula, and crank up the cheese". But like the best cheese, this stuff has aged wonderfully; Kiske's operatic vocals are a more than passable take on Bruce Dickinson's style, whilst the band have the twin lead guitar style nailed down wonderfully. The track Future World is probably my only quibble here, being very slightly too goofy even for this context, but even then I do find it infectiously catchy when I am in the right mood.
Time Signature
Follow the sign...

Genre: power metal

"Keeper of the Seven Keys, part I" is the first installation of Helloween's godlike "Keeper of the Seven Keys" series of releases. Like "Keeper of the Seven Keys, part II", this release contains nothing but rock solid tracks that serve as shining beacons of German power metal.

The epic track "Halloween" which, for my money, is one of the best metal tracks ever - especially because of the twin guitars at 12:15. "Future World" is a more uplifting and upbeat track which makes use of optimistic lyrics and humoristic sound effects to further brighten the already good mood it instills, and it serves as a great antidote to the the more melancholic power ballad "A Tale that Wasn't Right". "I'm Alive", "A Little Time" and "Twilight of the Gods" are all tracks that represent power metal at its best: an epic sound, a wee cheesiness balanced by heavy riffing and a bit of humor, catchy melodies, amazing musicianship, neoclassic shredding and fantastic vocals.

I would recommend this to any fan of power metal, speed metal and traditional heavy metal.

Members reviews

Before all the bands like DragonForce, Sonata Artica or Hammerfall, the power begins with Helloween and his marvelous Keeper Of The Seven Keys. After their first albums who were more speed and thrash, they come with a more melodic and power album : Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I. With fast songs like I'm Alive or Twilight Of The Gods, epic songs like the great Future World or some lenghty but perfect songs (the spectacular Halloween). Some songs are less good like A Little Time or A Tale That Wasn't Right. There's also the introduction Initation and the outro "Follow The Sign" with his whispered words. This album is almost perfect and it's just a wonderful trip. There's just one thing that we can say after that : I want to see the part Two !
1967/ 1976
One of the birth of Power Metal "Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part 1" is a very interesting album, listened to today, but not explosive due to some factors. The production is minimal, not bringing out the power of the compositions that are the second factor, flat and with little variation from one another, because of the songwriter of Kai Hansen. "A Little Time" is composed by Michael Kiske but is not too different from the other. "A Tale That Was not Right" is a power ballad signed by Michael Weikath, beautiful and poignant. Interesting the Hard Rock "Future World" and "I'm Alive", a good traditional Heavy Metal. Also "A Little Time" is interesting. But "Future World" and "A Tale That Was not Right" are just another immortal song to follow: "Halloween". "Halloween" is a long (over 13 minutes) Prog Rock, sometimes even symphonic, more interesting to be a piece imitated (male) billions of melodic Power Metal bands, but "Halloween" present anything new. Substantially "Halloween" is a copy of a song by Scorpions! Not a perfect carbonless copy because much symphonic (and I would come to mind Mike Oldfield and Genesis of the symphonic added). The problem of "Halloween" is that this masterpiece is ruined by flat production.

I do, however, see "Keeeper Of The Seven Keys, Part 1" as an album of Kai Hansen and Helloween, unfortunately. Which does not make me appreciate him. Fortunately, he also noticed that in Helloween "Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part 2" have produced a real band album.
This album marked my introduction to Helloween and it was quite an effective introduction indeed! Surprisingly enough it actually turned out to be my least favorite of the four Kai Hansen-era releases, once I've started to explore the band even more, but that doesn't mean that there isn't enough great material here!

"Initiation" is the obligatory intro track which unfortunately isn't nearly as effective as the previous two openers. The signature jingle is there but the rest of this minute long intro sounds like an epic overture to the album that actually isn't as epic as its individual pieces. "I'm Alive" is a classic Power Metal classic that introduces us to the gorgeous vocalist Michael Kiske!

I tend to skip "A Little Time" on my play-thoughts of the album since I feel that the track ruins the energy that was created on "I'm Alive". This is where "Twilight Of The Gods" comes to my rescue with another great Power Metal classic. "A Tale That Wasn't Right" is a decent ballad that I listen to on some instances but, most of the time, I get impatient and just skip right onto "Future World"!

"Future World" is easily this album's most know track. This is both good, since it's a pretty awesome track, and not so good, since it does feel a bit overplayed at times. Kiske's falsetto vocals are easily the highpoint of this track for me and they sound as impressive today as they did the first time I've heard them. The 13 minute opus "Halloween" is where the album goes from excellent to masterful. I've been in love with this composition ever since I've heard it for the first time and I honestly can't tell you where the minutes disappear while I experience this track but I don't regret a single one of them! "Follow The Sign" concludes the album with a premonition of the themes that will be played out in full on the next release. I've never been a big fan of these types of tracks because I just don't see a point to them.

Overall, "Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part I" is an important album in the band's discography since it fully embraced the potential new genre of Power Metal and opened up the flood gates for many imitators. The album is still a blast to my ears but I tend to listen to it with a slight caution, as to not to overplay some of its material. Highly recommended to fans of Power Metal, but I'm sure that most of you have already experienced this album!

***** star songs: Halloween (13:20)

**** star songs: I'm Alive (3:23) Twilight Of The Gods (4:30) Future World (4:03)

*** star songs: Initiation (1:19) A Little Time (4:00) A Tale That Wasn't Right (4:44) Follow The Sign (1:47)

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