Best Helloween Albums

Not many bands can lay claim to launching an entire genre of music. Germany’s Helloween are one of the most influential and critical bands in metal’s convoluted history. The blueprint that Iron Maiden and Judas Priest set forth was expanded upon as Helloween increased the tempos, made the vocals more extravagant and added steroids to the harmony guitar solos and in the process helped create power metal as we know it.

Spanning thirty plus years and more than a dozen proper studio albums, the band has never been one to repeat themselves. For as many straightforward remarkable releases as they have, Helloween have a few head scratchers as well. Their willingness to not be boxed in and be willing to expand their sound is the greatest reason the band has endured.

The fact that they have accomplished equally amazing results with two different singers is a rare feat. The over the top vocal style of Michael Kiske and the gravelly catchy melodies of Andi Deris have both produced legendary releases. Thirty years after their formation, Helloween still set the standard for the power metal genre. Here are the five key releases of their incredible career.

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Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 (1987)

Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1
Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1.

Just eighteen at the time, vocalist Michael Kiske’s impact on Helloween and power metal cannot be understated. His amazing range and over the top vocals have influenced thousands of singers. 1987’s Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 created the blueprint for the power metal genre and bands have been trying to replicate since it’s release. Not only is it Helloween’s best record, it still stands the test of time as the best release the genre has seen.

From the opening notes of album opener “I’m Alive,” it is apparent the band’s songwriting has grown exponentially. Kiske’s vocals blended with Hansen and Weikath’s guitars are the perfect combination. The epic thirteen minute plus “Halloween” is the epitome of the Helloween sound. Blazing guitars and double bass are coupled with grandiose memorable vocals. Part 1’s song selection is so strong it could stand as a best of in the band’s discography.

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Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 (1988)

Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2
Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2.

Taking off right where Part 1 left off, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 is another landmark release. Featuring a similar formula as the first, the songs might be catchier this time around. “Eagle Fly Free” isn’t just Helloween’s best song, it is the best song that power metal has ever produced. Containing mind-blowing musicianship, Kiske is at his best and the most ridiculously memorable chorus makes this a slice of heaven.

Like it’s predecessor, it plays like a best of release. Each song has become a classic within the Helloween catalogue and mainstays in their live set. The culmination is the thirteen-minute plus title track that is a progressive masterpiece. Which is an epic climax that has to be one of the strongest album closers in metal history. There is no denying the classic status of the Keeper era as they are the two most crucial releases the genre has ever seen.

Recommended Track – "Eagle Fly Free" 

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The Time Of The Oath (1996)

Helloween - Time Of The Oath
Helloween - Time Of The Oath.

Helloween’s seventh full-length The Time Of The Oath will stand the test of time as an excellent example of the band's excellent songwriting ability. What separates them from their peers is that each member is a songwriting machine. They take the formula from Master of the Rings, but expand on it and perfect it. Deris takes over as the primary songwriter and his output is stunning. From front to back every song is solid and not a weakness among the tracks.

“Before the War” is the most underrated song in the Helloween canon and should be talked about as one of the best of their career. The chorus is so remarkably memorable I can’t help to hit repeat when it’s over. The title track is the best song that guitarist Roland Grapow has penned with its larger than life melodies and Led Zeppelin like riff. The Time Of The Oath is clearly the best release of the Deris era and nearly equally as good as the sacred Keeper records.

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Gambling With The Devil (2007)

Helloween - Gambling With The Devil
Helloween - Gambling With The Devil.

After releasing the underwhelming third entry in their Keeper series in 2005, the band bounced back with the phenomenal Gambling With the Devil. The songwriting is focused and the band seems to be relieved to just be making another record instead of trying to live up to past legacies. Some additional lineup changes occur again, but new guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Dani Loble’s contributions are immense.

Vocally this is Andi Deris’ strongest performance. He stretches his high range in the blazing “Kill It” and shows a tender side to his vocals throughout the release. “As Long As I Fall” and “Fallen to Pieces” stand up as two of the best ballads in the band's discography. Both feature mesmerizing melody lines that won’t leave your head. The album’s pinnacle point is the crusher “The Bells of the Seven Hells,” one of the heaviest songs the band has written to date.

Recommended Track – "The Bells of the Seven Hells"

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Master Of The Rings (1994)

Helloween - Master Of The Rings
Helloween - Master Of The Rings.

After the release of the inconsistent and commercially unsuccessful Chameleon, the band was ready for a change. Parting ways with vocal phenomenon Kiske was a tough and risky decision as his talent was still the best the genre had to offer. Bringing in Andi Deris created a fire and passion that the band hadn’t seen since the Keeper era. Founding guitarist Hansen had already exited the band a few years prior, and his replacement Roland Grapow had already established himself as a worthy replacement.

Opener “Soul Survivor” kicks off the Deris era in perfect fashion as the driving rhythm and blazing guitar solos are classic Helloween. The infectious melodies of Deris are felt on the contagious “Why?”, the classic up-tempo “Where the Rain Grows” and the seductive “Perfect Gentleman.” This was a brilliant comeback and reset for the band. Successfully moving on without Kiske and Hansen paved the way for their future and amazing discography with Deris behind the microphone.