CD Reviews

Helloween - 'Unarmed - The Best of 25th Anniversary' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 15, 2010    
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Experimenting is good, but not to this extreme.

There is, from what I can gather, an obvious fan divide between the Deris/Kiske fans when it comes to Helloween, however firstly, I have to mention the previous Kiske release ‘Past In Different Ways’ as the ‘Weenies’ have very much followed suit with ‘Unarmed’.

Personally, I am a keen follower of the Deris clan, and checking out the tracks on the album I am very pleased in the fact that all of them are my (and obviously the majority of their other admirers) personal favourites - perfect stuff I think.

That was before hearing it....

I’m in a quandary as to what to make of this album. Ok, I have heard tracks unplugged and given the acoustic makeover, but the band have gone one step further, they have literally taken the compositions to pieces and injected fusions of Jazz, Opera and god knows what else.

This is where my confusion begins. As mentioned, these are my favourite tracks, if I had my choice, and they have gone and transformed them into near unrecognisable monstrosities. Aaargh.... Helloween! No!

'If I Could Fly', ‘Forever & One’ and ‘Fallen To Pieces’ have escaped lightly. The first two with only a piano taking on the core melodies whilst the latter has pretty much the original format, with the grace of slight electronic psychedelic noises and a Spanish acoustic guitar. Thank the lord for small mercies.

‘Dr Stein’ and ‘Perfect Gentleman’ are so jazz cabaret they could almost belong on a cheesy TV show. I know the guys like the comedic value, which works, in most cases... just not this one.

'The Keeper’s Trilogy' and ‘A Tale That Wasn’t Right’ are now full of atmospheric orchestral inserts, piano solos and a female choir which Andrew Lloyd Webber would be drooling over. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a hand in composing it. This would fit in well on a London stage show, unfortunately…. ‘Eagle Fly Free’ sounds really disjointed and abrupt with no flow to it at all, which is a shame as it’s a really smooth song, even in previous acoustic versions.

Don’t ask what they have done to ‘I Want Out’! Young children opening the song with shocking ‘La-la’s’ then backing Andi during the chorus (in which his vocals almost get lost) is the addition. Okay, I understand it fits well with the lyrical direction, but oooh, it really could have done without the playschool cacophony.

I cannot dispute that Andi's emphatic vocals are top notch and sounding stronger than ever, the musicianship offered by Sascha Gerstner, Michael Weikath and co is expertly manipulated.

To be honest, the extra additions are just unnecessary. Raw and unplugged versions would have been a lot better.

Sorry guys, I'm begging you as an admirer to please stick to what you are good at and improve on that. Experimenting is good, but not to this extreme.

I’m off to stick on the original versions in the hope of rediscovering their prior integrity.

Sonia Waterfield

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