Helloween - Pink Bubbles Go Ape
Victor Entertainment
Melodic Metal
12 songs (48:15)
Release year: 1991
Helloween
Reviewed by Shane
Archive review

Imagine you are a heavy metal band back in the late 80’s who just released an amazing album that would inspire a new generation of metal heads and your band is on the cusp of being huge worldwide. Suddenly you run into legal problems with your record label and then a founding member of your band who is also one of the principle song writers, decides to quit. What do you do? Well, first you release a greatest hits album, despite the fact that you have only released three full-length albums and then you release a short live album to whet your fans appetites hoping that they won’t forget about you. And then three years later, armed with a new guitarist, you finally release your next studio effort. However the song writing themes and musical direction of your new album is a radical departure from what your fans know and love about you (not to mention that record label problems are ongoing and you can’t release your new album in the USA). This is basically the story of Helloween’s fall from grace and Pink Bubbles Go Ape is the musical offering that much of this is blamed on. Now the question, does this album deserve to be saddled with this fate? Is it really that bad? Well the answer is definitely NO (however, their next album Chameleon is that bad, as unfortunately this sad tale would continue to become a lot worse before it would get better).

I think the biggest reason for Helloween’s new musical direction on Pink Bubbles is the absence of Kai Hansen and the new influence that Michael Kiske had over the band. No, this album is not bad at all, however, it is quite different from the classic Keeper albums and it would be a while before Helloween would even attempt to return to that sound and style. The best way to describe Pink Bubbles would be to say that this is happy happy Helloween, meaning that this album is full of tongue in cheek humour and happy, feel good melodies. Yes, there are still some heavy moments to be found on Pink Bubbles. The drum sound on this album is great, as is the drumming. Ingo Schwichtenberg was a mad man on the skins and a true talent. At times on Pink Bubbles, Michael Weikath and Roland Grapow display their shredding ability but the riffs and melodies are not as consistently good as they were on the Keeper albums. Another huge difference is the overall vibe of the album. Gone are the fantasy “Keeper-like" themes and instead they are replaced by social commentary and personal reflections.

The album beings with the title track Pink Bubbles Go Ape. It’s about a thirty-second song, which is just Michael Kiske and an acoustic guitar. This track is recorded so quietly that you will have to turn up the volume fairly high to even hear it. This is no accident because when the next track, Kids of the Century, comes on, it’s super loud and unless you always listen to albums insanely loud (Manowar style) you will have to turn it down again. Funny guys, real funny. Kids of the Century is a great song featuring awesome drums and vocals. This is arguably the best song on the album. After I heard this song I wondered why people are so hard on this album. Well the answer, in my opinion, is in the next three songs. Back on the Streets and Number One aren’t terrible but they are not that good. They are a huge step down from any material off the keeper albums. Then comes Heavy Metal Hamsters and while I understand what the band was trying to do with this song, after all this song does have a meaning, the end result is something that just sounds too silly for that meaning to be appreciated. After all, despite what any song is trying to say or mean, what really matters is if it sounds good and this song ends up sounding just too silly for my tastes. So after the first five tracks, there really has only been one that is worth hearing. The beginning of track six, Goin’ Home, will make you think that the silliness is continuing, however don’t let the almost wacky, cartoonish guitar riff discourage you. This song is decent and features great vocals from Kiske. Thankfully the album picks up from here. Track seven is Someone’s Crying and this song, while not heavy, seriously shreds. Someone’s Crying is an extremely underrated Helloween song as it features many of the elements Helloween fans crave in their music. Ingo rips up the skins, Markus tears up the bass, Roland and Michael (Mostly Roland on this one) display their shredding talents and Kiske shows off his awesome range. The high note Kiske hits at the very end of the song is one of the best he has ever done and it must be heard to be believed. Mankind is next and it is an excellent song as well with a great message. Unfortunately, there is still one stinker left on this album and it is I’m Doin’ Fine, Crazy Man. I don’t care for the vocal melodies on this one and it also contains a little too much funk for me. While this song is ambitious, as is the whole album, it just doesn’t work for me. On Helloween’s High Live album, Andi Deris says that the Grapow penned track, The Chance, is his favourite off of the Pink Bubbles album and he has good taste as this is an excellent song featuring great guitars and vocals. Your Turn closes out the album (Not mine though, I have the Japanese edition but I’ll get to that later) and it is another strong track which I would liken to a power ballad. A soft, acoustic beginning with a rocking ending.

As I previously mentioned, I own the Japanese edition of this album that contains the bonus track Shit and Lobster. This is a good song with some interesting contrasts as hinted at by the song’s title. The vocals are sung softly with a happy, feel good melody and the guitars play along with this, however, the message behind the song is not light hearted and neither is the drumming which at times is seriously heavy. While this song is not essential to any but hard-core Helloween fans, it does add to the eclectic and somewhat odd nature of this album and also fits in perfectly with the vibe of the album.

In the end, the music on this album should not be solely held accountable for the end of Helloween’s heyday with Michael Kiske, however, I do see how it contributed to the situation. The songs on this album are a departure from what Helloween fans expected from this band (at the time) and the vibe and theme of the album is completely different from the Keeper albums. Add in a few songs which are just plain bad (By Helloween standards) and you have an offering which reflects a band that is in transition. With the absence of Hansen, the addition of Grapow and the increased influence of Kiske, maybe Pink Bubbles Go Ape should not have surprised the fans like it did when it was released but things like this are always easier to understand in hindsight. However, this does not mean that this album should be avoided. It is actually quite good and contains some great performances from the band and most notably from Kiske.

Killing Songs :
Kids of the Century, Some Ones Crying, Mankind, The Chance
Shane quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Helloween that we have reviewed:
Helloween - Straight out of Hell reviewed by Chris and quoted 92 / 100
Helloween - Walls of Jericho reviewed by Olivier and quoted CLASSIC
Helloween - 7 Sinners reviewed by Kyle and quoted 87 / 100
Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I reviewed by Storm and quoted CLASSIC
Helloween - Gambling With The Devil reviewed by Marty and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 19 reviews click here
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