HELLOWEEN — Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II

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HELLOWEEN - Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II cover
4.44 | 135 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 1988

Filed under Power Metal


1. Invitation (1:07)
2. Eagle Fly Free (5:10)
3. You Always Walk Alone (5:10)
4. Rise and Fall (4:22)
5. Dr. Stein (5:05)
6. We Got the Right (5:08)
7. March of Time (5:15)
8. I Want Out (4:41)
9. Keeper of the Seven Keys (13:37)
10. Save Us (5:13)

Total Time: 54:55


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

About this release

Release date: August 1st, 1988
Label: Noise Records

Track 1 by Hansen & Weikath
Tracks 2, 4, 5, and 9 by Weikath
Tracks 3 and 6 by Kiske
Tracks 7 and 8 by Hansen

Cover art for "Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II" by Edda & Uwe Karczewski

Both "Keepers" albums have also been issued by Noise as a limited edition double CD in 1993. The double CD issue is hard to find nowadays and contains 3 bonus tracks :
1. Don't Run For Cover (4:44)
2. Living Ain't No Crime (4:41)
3. Savage (3:23)

"Save Us" was not included on the original LP format, and on some CD versions it is listed as a bonus track (and placed as track 7 or 10).

2006 Remastered/Expanded edition:
Disc 1
1. Invitation (1:07)
2. Eagle Fly Free (5:08)
3. You Always Walk Alone (5:10)
4. Rise And Fall (4:22)
5. Dr. Stein (5:04)
6. We Got The Right (5:08)
7. March Of Time (5:15)
8. I Want Out (4:30)
9. Keeper Of The Seven Keys (13:37)
10. Save Us (5:15)

Disc 2
1. Savage (single b-side) (3.23)
2. Livin' Ain't No Crime (single b-side) (4:41)
3. Don't Run For Cover (single b-side) (4:44)
4. Dr. Stein (Remix) (5:04)=
5. Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Remix) (13:51)

Total Time: 31:49

Thanks to Time Signature, UMUR, m@x, adg211288, diamondblack, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Although the name is misleading, this album and part 1 are not two-part concept albums, and actually seem to be completely unrelated in terms of themes. This album, in my opinion, is superior and much better represents the genre of Power Metal.

While Part 1 abandoned the band’s Speed Metal energy and aggression in favor of complete melody, this album brings back the intense speed of the debut while retaining extremely melodic and uplifting songwriting, resulting in a concrete example of fully formed Power Metal. This album, like Part 1, is incredibly diverse, both in terms of themes and songwriting, with incredibly poppy numbers sitting between hyper speedy power assaults. Thankfully this album is much more consistent quality-wise, apart from the silly Dr. Stein every song is very strong.

Another note – they really went off the wall stylistically here. The lyrics are insane as are some of the sounds they throw in. It’s kind of off putting at times, but on the other hand it’s one of the most fun-sounding records I’ve ever heard. Definitely one of the first and best examples of metal not being dark in any sense.
Vim Fuego
Say you’re a German heavy metal band, and in 1987, you released an album called “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1”. It is a melodic metal tour de force, spawning the band’s debut single, garnering great critical acclaim, and racking up immense praise from fans. What do you do next? Simple. You release “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2”, and completely blitz the previous album.

Helloween intended to release the two “Keeper of the Seven Keys” albums as a double album, but the band’s record company forced them to split the release. It hardly matters now, because no self-respecting Helloween fan would be without both albums. However, it made “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1” seem a little silly, because the title track wasn’t on it. The record company interference has also long been thought to be a key factor behind Kai Hansen’s departure from the band after this album’s release.

Helloween were often unfairly compared to Iron Maiden during their early career. The similarities were pretty superficial. Yes, both bands had two guitarists, a great singer, an ear for melody, and a penchant for crafting epic masterpiece songs. But that’s where the similarities end. For anyone whose ears aren’t painted on, it’s quite obvious both bands play different styles of metal. Iron Maiden redefined what was meant by heavy metal, taking Judas Priest’s British steel and Black Sabbath’s never say die attitude to new heights. Helloween, heavily influenced by The Scorpions’ animal magnetism, injected melody into thrash metal like no other band before them.

Some of these songs are among the greatest examples of melodic thrash you will ever hear. Yes, this style of metal now gets the label power metal, but back in 1988, it was still called thrash. The brief instrumental “Invitation”, a bombastic military march, replete with brass, and an angelic choir, leads into the muscular main riff of “Eagle Fly Free”, and the album is off and running! The choppy rhythms of Hansen and Michael Weikath are driven by drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg’s double kick drum barrage and Marcus Grosskopf’s virtuoso bass. Over it, Michael Kiske weaves an allegoric tale, with a soaring eagle chorus.

“Rise and Fall” follows the same formula, except the chorus is even more magnificent, more sing-a-long-able, and Kiske hits some glorious high notes. “Dr Stein” was released as the album’s first single, and on the surface seems like a song about Dr Frankenstein. A closer examination of the lyrics however, reveals a more political theme. Musically, it is a cheerful, bouncy thrash/power-pop song, and even offers a pipe organ break Dr Phibes would be proud of. “We Got the Right” changes the pace somewhat, a driving, serious power ballad with stratospheric vocals.

For some strange reason, Helloween seem quite adept at writing memorable songs, but their titles are far from inspiring. “You Always Walk Alone” is a great song, with incredibly strong vocal melodies, a variety of very different guitar solos, and a stunning percussion performance by Schwichtenberg, but has such a forgettable, bland title. “March of Time” and “Save Us” all suffer similar fates- damn fine songs, but ditch-water dull titles.

The Kai Hansen penned “I Want Out” was the album’s second single, and to this day, remains Helloween’s biggest and possibly best song. The opening riff is instantly recognisable. The chanted chorus is powerful, and the refrain of “I want out/to live my life and to be free” speaks volumes to so many people on so many levels about so many situations. It could have been speaking of the political situation of the still divided Germany, to a teen weighed down by the angst of his age, a prisoner or slave desiring freedom, or perhaps Kai Hansen’s desire to untie himself from the band.

So how do you follow a career defining single? With a career defining saga of course! The scope of the multi-faceted, near-14-minute fantasy “Keeper of the Seven Keys” rivals Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (there’s that comparison again!) for scope, if not quite for execution or composition. While somewhat shorter than Lord of the Rings, it is a tale of travels and treasure, and demons and deception. Whether it is to be taken at face value or there is a deeper meaning, it’s a ripping yarn told in song.

And what do you follow that with? Well, depending on the version of the album you have, either contemplative silence, which leaves you wanting to replay the album again, or “Save Us”. While not a bad song in itself, probably the closest to a conventional thrash song on offer, it doesn’t work at the end of the album, seeming like a tacked on left-over, or a Japanese b-side. It is neither, originally being the seventh song on the album. It has been stuck there in one of those unfathomable decisions made when the album was remastered.

“Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2” marked the end of an era for Helloween. Founding member Kai Hansen left the band soon after its release, and forged a successful career with his own band Gamma Ray. Helloween also abandoned the fantasy driven melodic thrash the band had pioneered, instead committing near career suicide with the post-modern silliness of “Pink Bubbles Go Ape”, and the radio rock infused “Chameleon”, before returning to their power metal roots. The Keeper of the Seven Keys legend was eventually revisited in 2005 with “Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy”, but the band has never quite recaptured the magic. It matters not, because “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2” still exists, and expecting Helloween to better it is the definition of insanity.
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II is the third album by German power metal act Helloween. The second of the two classic Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, like Part I (1987), Keepers II is considered a groundbreaking release for the power metal genre. Originally the two were planned as one album, so it should be no surprise that the sound and direction of the album is a natural continuation where the previous album left off. Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II does however have the perhaps dubious distinction of being the final album Helloween would release with Kai Hansen as a member of the band. Widely considered as the godfather of power metal, although the band would eventually go on to release some more top quality albums, it would take many years before they put something out again that rivalled the quality of the two Keeper of the Seven Keys releases. Contrary to that though Keepers II is a mostly Michael Weikath penned album so on that count it is difficult to attribute Hansen’s departure for this.

Like Part I Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II contains many Helloween classics, such as Eagle Fly Free, Dr. Stein and I Want Out. However overall I don’t find the album to be quite as consistent as Part I. Both albums follow a similar pattern of starting with an intro track, delivering shorter songs which build up to a thirteen minute plus epic, in this case the title track, Keeper of the Seven Keys. Both albums are top tier classics, but if I had to pick one over the other, I have to say that Part I is very slightly superior to Part II. Part II on the other hand does have that title track going for it. Even Halloween from Part I, a perfect power metal album overall in my book, doesn’t even begin to rival this one track. Helloween hasn’t done anything on quite this level since and it remains to this day, over twenty years later, Helloween’s finest achievement, and a true work of power metal art with vocalist Michael Kiske on absolutely top form. Epic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Overall while I may not regard the album as much as Part I, if you can call such a minute difference in score not having an as high a regard for it, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II remains one of the essential power metal releases in terms of both historical significance and compositional quality. In a way it is also one of the first forward thinking power metal albums containing parts that could even be considered progressive, such as Dr. Stein’s organ solo, or the epic length of Keeper of the Seven Keys that takes some twists and turns away from power metal. Helloween’s music would move away from power metal for a little while after this, resulting in a couple of albums that have never been able to hold the same regard of the two Keeper albums or the Walls of Jericho debut, but every metal fan at least should have this classic pair in his or her collection.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))
Though like its predecessor The Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 contains a fair dose of cheese (such as the goofy - but fun - Dr Stein), it also provides the glittering crown jewel of the classic power metal pair of albums. That, of course, is the epic thirteen minute title track, which despite a few slightly repetitive sections is an impressive melding of power metal pomp and prog metal complexity, and boasts what might be Michael Kiske's greatest vocal performance ever. (Granted, he's yet another Bruce Dickinson impersonator in metal, but nobody will deny after listening to this one that he's got an incredible pair of lungs on him). If you liked the first, you'll like this one.
Time Signature
We got the right...

Genre: power metal

"Keeper of the Seven Keys, part II" is one of the best power metal releases ever. It contains epic classics like "Eagle Fly Free", "March of Time", "I Want Out", "Save Us" and the super epic "Keeper of the Seven Keys", all of which are pretty much the epitome of German power metal at its best.

There is plenty of cheesiness, to be sure, but this is kept in check by gutwrenching guitar riffs (just check out some of the riffage in "March of Time" and "Save Us"), top notch musicianship, and - perhaps most importantly in relation to Helloween's style - a good dose of humor. The tracks "Dr. Stein" and "Rise and Fall" are built on humor, and the cheesy elements that occur in the more serious songs are often forgivable because we are never sure whether they are meant seriously or whether they are a musical tongue-in-cheeck parody on Helloween's own genre.

Oh, and then there is Michael Kiske's epic voice which suits the style superbly well.

In any case, "Keeper of the Seven Keys, part II" is a power metal masterpiece that belongs in any power metal collection.
The first part of "Keeper of The Seven Keys" series had put Helloween on the map a year earlier and this second part which was released in 1988 only established Helloween even firmer as the household name of power metal genre. Singer Michael Kiske is one of the respectable talent in the industry whom has a high range pipe reminiscent of early Geoff Tate or Rob Halford, and he's only 20-years old back then, provided a lot of throat stretching screams throughout the songs.

The album was opened with an intense melody of "Eagle Fly Free" which is one of their superb song that defines European power metal, and in my opinion, this is the best song of the album. "Rise And Fall" has a funny bridge and great chorus and "Dr.Stein" is one of their classic tune with a commercial composition and also one of my fave. The mastermind of the band, Kai Hansen, which later departed the band to form Gamma Ray, is on fire, spawning three consecutive sensational songs with an aggressive tempo yet still melodic, "Save Us", "March of Time", and "I Want Out". The latter song received a heavy MTV rotation and was rumored to be an expressive statement of Hansen that he had done his time in Helloween and the band didn't want him there anymore. The title track spanned over 13 minutes and regarded as one of their classic song that's regularly included in the setlist, and also served as one of the prog/power metal arrangement pioneer.

There's no doubt that the first two releases of "Keeper of The Seven Keys" are their masterpiece and nothing from their newer catalogue can top this. I rated this album slightly better than the first one and a must buy if you like speedy songs, high-pitch screamers, fast-picking solos, and heavenly melodies.

Members reviews

After the wonderful first part of the adventures of the keeper of the seven keys, every metal fan wants to listen to the second part. And it's just excellent. From the epic "Eagle Fly Free" to the beautiful "March Of Time", every song are good. There's also the awesome thirteen minutes epic "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" who is just pure metal, and also fun compositions like "Rise And Fall" or the very cool Dr Stein. This is just a masterpiece of metal and one of the greatest power metal albums of all time. This is the album who put Hellowen from good band to legend of metal.
I must admit that my initial reaction to "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II" was a bit skeptical. How were Helloween be able to make this a worth a while follow-up to their breakthrough classic from the previous year? Well, they both did and didn't succeed on making this release stand out on it's own.

The record has pretty much the same outline as the previous one featuring a short intro followed by the first hard hitting power metal classic (Eagle Fly Free). A few songs later we come to the album's centerpiece in the shape of the lengthy 10+ composition which is then rounded off by an additional track.

This time around the intro section is a lot better with both the short intro and "Eagle Fly Free" being more preferable to me than "Initiation" and "I'm Alive". Unfortunately the album loses some of It's initial advantage due to the fact that both "You Always Walk Alone" and "Rise And Fall" sound like filler to my ears. "Dr.Stein" returns the record back on track, even though it's still in a disadvantage compared to "Twilight Of The Gods" from the previous record. After another filler track, we finally come to the two centerpieces of this album. "March In Time" and "I Want Out" were both penned by Kai Hansen and clearly show how much potential this album had if only Hansen had a bigger role in the production of the remainder of the material.

Unlike the last time, I actually find the lengthy track to be lacking in execution. It just always felt to me that the track of such epic proportion should have been a lot more pompous. Instead it's a good composition that just doesn't sound like a classic that I would have liked it to be. It certainly is strong in it's own right but does not match the mighty "Halloween". To it's credit, it definitely doesn't try to rehash the formula which, I guess, should speak in its favor but I just can't generate enough love towards the final product. "Save Us" is another great Hansen track but it ultimately doesn't add anything new to the album as a whole. Some might argue that "Save Us" is just a bonus track that was tide into the album but, to me, it brings almost the same emotions as the ones I get when I listen to "White Feather" after just experiencing "Childhoods End?" on Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood". It certainly sounds like a better ending than "Follow The Sign" but that's an unfair comparison simply because "Follow The Sign" was more of a premonition of the things to come.

Overall, "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II" is certainly a classic in its own right but I lack the overall feeling of quality that existed on Helloween's two first records and the marvelous EP. Definitely give it a go if you've played the first three records to death.

***** star songs: Eagle Fly Free (5:10) March Of Time (5:15)

**** star songs: Invitation (1:07) Dr. Stein (5:05) I Want Out (4:41) Keeper Of The Seven Keys (13:37) Save Us (5:13)

*** star songs: You Always Walk Alone (5:10) We Got The Right (5:08)

** star songs: Rise And Fall (4:22)
I can't believe this album doesn't have a full five star average!!!! This is Helloween AND power metal at its very best!! From the opening strains of "Invitation" you know that something big is on the way...and Helloween do not let you down. "Eagle Fly Free" could easily be a blueprint for what power metal has become over the years. Quick double-bass verses, twin guitar attack, huge epic chorus...even a little bass / drum solo in the middle from Markus and Ingo to keep your ass up!!! Doesn't get much better than this folks!!!

This album flows perfectly all the way through to the album centerpiece...the 13 minute title track...one of the greatest metal songs ever written. The album ends on "Save Us" which I never considered a part of the album...I believe the version I originally had listed this as a bonus track...we're talking 1988 so it gets a bit fuzzy.

If I had to tell anyone what album to buy to get into power metal, this would be the one!!! There are only one or two other albums in the genre that get such high regards (Gamma Ray's Land Of The Free for one), but without this disc, they would have never been!!!!

5 / 5 every day of the week!!!!!!
It is my honor and pleasure to be the first to review this metal masterpiece. The influence this album has had on power metal as a genre cannot be calculated.

I wrote a track-by-track analysis of the album, but after finishing, I realized that isn't needed here. All that needs to be said is this is probably the greatest power metal album ever recorded, and every power metal album that has followed is merely a shadow of this great album.

Why is it the greatest power metal album? Helloween were among the first, if not the first, to marry speed metal and NWOBHM, making them one of the originators of power metal. They were faster than Iron Maiden and more melodic than Metallica. The musicians and vocalist in the band were also among the very best in metal. In "Eagle Fly Free," each member of the band gets a chance to solo, even the drummer, with every solo exceptional and sounding like it belongs.

With the addition of Michael Kiske, the band began forming this sound with Keeper Part 1, but they really found their way with Keeper Part 2. The songs were are melodic, and the rhythms are more aggressive.

The band mastered the metal anthem with "I Want Out" and the commercial single with "Dr. Stein." Then, there are the power metal classics "Eagle Fly Free," "March of Time" and "Save Us." These songs are the template for every power metal anthem that followed. And, then, to top it off, the band records a prog metal classic in the 13+ minute title track.

You can hear the influence of this album in Avantasia, Sonata Arctica, and Dragonland among dozens of others, and it still holds up today. If there were a university course in heavy metal, Keeper of the Seven Keys would be required listening.

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