Helloween – “Walls Of Jericho” (1985)

Helloween continued to flirt with greatness on Walls Of Jericho.  Again, one can’t help but wonder what this album would have sounded like with Michael Kiske on vocals, but his arrival was still one album away.  So we are left with Kai Hansen tackling the vocal duties; straining to give life to his own ambitious and creative songwriting.  The pedal was to the floor again on this Helloween album.  Though there were a few moments here and there were Helloween eased up on the throttle, on a song-by-song basis Walls Of Jericho was pure adrenaline and balls to the wall speed.  Ingo Schwichtenberg’s drums sound like a gatling gun, repeating round after round as the sound of his snare drum batters the brain.  In terms of speed metal meets melody, Helloween were (IMO) the best in the game in 1985.  But speed alone does not a great album make.  So there was room for improvement, for more dimensionalityKeeper Of The Seven Keys Part I put all the pieces together.  Kiske changed Helloween from a band with an average singer, to one with one of the world’s best.  (He also wrote for Helloween, which expanded tha band’s breadth.)  And Helloween added more light and shade, more dynamics to their song writing, with ballads and mid-paced numbers.  But on Walls Of Jericho it was all about hauling ass.  And sometimes the payoffs were exhilarating.  Take for example Ride The Sky, Guardians, and Phantoms Of Death.  Incredible stuff.  A few lackluster tunes soil Walls Of Jericho just a bit (you find ’em), but when it’s good, it blows you away.  My score: B+

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