Pink Bubbles Go Ape is the fourth album by German power metal act Helloween. The album, which was released in 1991, is the first Helloween release to not feature Kai Hansen in any role, with Roland Grapow replacing him.
Having begun their career as a speed metal band, then pioneering the power metal genre, Helloween’s music began to change once again with the release of Pink Bubbles Go Ape, and much of their imagery with it. Although the album can still be considered power metal in part, overall it features an equal measure of a much more toned down traditional metal sound, with influences of hard rock and some of it can even be considered comedy music, particularly the track Heavy Metal Hamsters, which wasn’t originally meant to be on the album. The music also feels slightly more commercial compared to the three albums that came before it.
This coupled with a drastic change in the album’s visuals, the art in particular being a vastly different style compared to the fantasy styled covers of the past, as well as the lack of the pumpkin in the band’s logo (it is replacing with, appropriately, a bubble) has ultimately led the album to not hold such a high regard as its predecessors within the Helloween fanbase.
Which is something that I think is entirely unfounded. Okay, so things did tone down a little between albums and maybe Michael Weikath in particular wanted to push the band into fully commercial territory (something which would fully come into fruition with the following album Chameleon), but although it doesn’t ultimately stand up to either of the masterful Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, and was their weakest album to date Pink Bubbles Go Ape is actually a very good heavy metal album. Michael Kiske is on top form for his vocals and there are still some high quality songs to be found within the album. Is it Helloween as people want Helloween to be? No, but it’s not as far off as some might have you believe. And there are plenty of good tracks here such as Kids of the Century, which is one of the more power metal inclined pieces, Goin' Home, which features some pretty cool riffs, and to be honest I’m actually quite fond of the humorous nature of Heavy Metal Hamsters. It’s probably true that the band should have been allowed to keep it for a b-side or bonus track but I like it all the same. All in all Pink Bubbles is a consistent release.
This is a step down from Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II, there’s no denying that, but I’ll never understand anyone who says that Pink Bubbles Go Ape isn’t true Helloween, or isn’t a good album. In truth it’s more than a good album, it’s a great album, easily the best they did in the first half of the ninties. Helloween had done and would do better again, but to have this one missing from your Helloween collection would be a shame indeed. The following Chameleon, now that’s another matter entirely, but that’s also a story for a different review.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org) on 08/09/2012)