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Along with its predecessor, Pink Bubbles Go Ape, Chameleon marked a period of personal turmoil and professional miscalculations for Helloween. The final recording to feature golden-era vocalist Michael Kiske, this 1996 recording wasn't even released in the U.S. and only served to confuse fans where it was available. While the group intelligently toned down the unexplainable attempts at humor featured on their previous recording, they still were intent on expanding their stylistic and textural boundaries. This just wasn't wise. Many bands would kill for the kind of mastery Helloween possessed over the fast-paced power metal they practically invented, and yet the group only visits familiar sonic territory on Chameleon between odd musical experiments. In and of themselves, tunes like "When the Sinner," "Crazy Cat," and "In the Night" are decent songs with fine performances. But there needed to be less of these acoustic, boogie, and synth-laden tracks and more cuts like the splendidly metallic "Giants." Only the staunchest of Helloween fans should be interested in Chameleon and its surprising variety of themes, both musical and lyrical. Newer and casual fans might want to avoid this subpar disc and stick to the classic '80s recordings.

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