Helloween

Gambling with the Devil

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The unprecedented worldwide success of multinational British-based power metallers DragonForce has cast an unexpected light upon German speed metal trailblazers Helloween. Perhaps the first band to convincingly combine thrash metal intensity with the melody and majestic imagery of the NWOBHM, and by extension the blueprint upon which DragonForce based their "extreme power metal" style, Helloween were a heavy metal institution, but one that had very much fallen by the wayside upon the departure of classic-era singer Michael Kiske and founder/guitarist Kai Hansen in the mid-'90s. Singer Andi Deris has been a permanent fixture ever since, but the band has found stable lineups difficult to come by, and the quality of material has been equally inconsistent. Following 2005's Keeper of ghe Seven Keys: The Legacy, on which the band attempted to revive the style of their mid-'80s classics, Gambling with the Devil is a little more calculated. The appearance of Saxon mainstay Biff Byford on the intro track "Crack the Riddle" is all too foreboding, however: for all its enthusiasm, Gambling with the Devil is unbending, inelastic, and indulgent heavy metal. Far from offering something new to the genre, Gambling with the Devil's progressive elements act as a smoke screen for a genuine lack of ideas, typified in no small measure by the dull extended interlude wedged in the middle of otherwise wonderful ballad "Fallen to Pieces." Gambling with the Devil may satisfy the diehards, but new entrants would be well advised to stick to the earlier material.

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