Helloween

Walls of Jericho

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Helloween followed up their very popular self-titled mini-LP with 1986's even more accomplished Walls of Jericho, a disc that saw the quartet from Hamburg, Germany, outperforming expectations and quickly defining their sonic identity. The instrumental title track soon gives way to amazingly mature and complex compositions like "Ride the Sky," "Phantoms of Death," and the awesome "How Many Tears" (even more ambitious 13-minute epics would soon follow). And although these were heavily reliant on Iron Maiden for inspiration, it was Helloween's speed metal innovations that clearly helped make the songs so special and influential for future bands. Even the album's lyrically challenged, somewhat one-dimensional moments ("Warrior," "Metal Invaders") usually succeed, thanks to the group's uncontainable energy. On the downside, the album continued to expose Kai Hansen's limitations as a singer, but the band would soon remedy this disadvantage by bringing on teenage phenom Michael Kiske as lead vocalist. [The CD reissue of Walls of Jericho offers a complete recap of Helloween's first incarnation by combining it with their eponymous mini-LP and the Judas EP in chronological order.]

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