Helloween - Chameleon
Never
Your guess is as good as mine
12 songs (71:20)
Release year: 1994
Helloween
Reviewed by Shane
Archive review

Chameleon is widely regarded as the worst Helloween offering to date, as with this album the band strays further from the metal path and continues down the road they started to travel with Pink Bubbles Go Ape. I’m a huge Helloween fan and I was warned that this album was different than the others before I got it but I figured that this album couldn’t be THAT bad. After all, every member of the band is an excellent musician, plus I am a huge Michael Kiske fan and this was his last album with Helloween, so I had to check it out.

First Time is the first song and after I heard that song I thought, “Well, that was a cheesy rock song but it’s not THAT bad” (Even though the lyrics are). I figured that I could live with it if the rest of the album was like First Time but I would also know why Chameleon was considered the weakest album Helloween ever made, however this album still wouldn’t be THAT bad. The second song, When the Sinner, is much worse than First Time and is really out there, as it relies more on kick horns than guitars. Yeah, it’s got a guitar solo but the song really doesn’t make a good impression if you’re listening to Helloween and expecting to hear metal like any un-expecting Helloween fan would be. I Don’t Wanna Cry No More follows and it is a touching acoustic song written by Roland Grapow about the death of his brother. As a ballad, this song is decent but I find that it sounds a little too cheery for the subject matter and as a result of this cheerfulness; the song didn’t make as powerful an impression on me as it could have. Of course, this could also be because it is three songs into the album and I am still waiting for a killer track. Helloween usually doesn’t make you wait that long! The horns come out again for the fourth track Crazy Cat and even though it is an up tempo track, it is not heavy at all and is more swing and boogie woogie than head banging. A disappointment to say the least. Finally on the fifth song Giants, Helloween puts together a riff that could be considered fairly heavy. Giants is still slower than most Helloween songs and not even close to being comparable to the best Helloween songs but as far as Chameleon is concerned, Giants is easily one of the best songs on the album.

Windmill follows and I have to say that this song is nothing short of a sick joke. It sounds like a nursery rhyme or something that the Telatubbies would frolic around to in a green meadow, all holding hands in slow motion. How this song made it on to Helloween’s Treasure Chest I’ll never know. Sure, it sounds pleasant enough and has a nice melody but honestly…What were they thinking? Revolution Now is next and if you’re still waiting for this album to pick things up a bit, it does but not as much as you would have hoped. Kiske sings with distorted vocals and it really doesn’t sound that great. Sure, it’s a bit heavier than the other songs on this album (what isn’t heavier than Windmill?) but it isn’t the album saviour that Chameleon needed. The guitar solo is decent even though the song is a bit too long. In the Night follows and once again things go acoustic. This song is like most of the other songs on this album, decent but not great and definitely not what Helloween fans are expecting (or wanting) from Helloween.

By the ninth song your begging for a straight ahead guitar driven rocker, so Chameleon throws at you a lengthy and ambitious number titled Music. The kick horns appear again and by now the sound of them all but ruins the song. An orchestra accompanies the band on this track and gives the song depth and feeling and almost makes the song special. I say almost because every song on this album is just so different than what you would be expecting that the addition of the orchestra just serves to make this song different, just like all the others, instead of special. Plus, it’s got those damn kick horns in it! Step Out of Hell is next and with a title like that, it must be hard rocking metal right? Wrong! And the synthesisers tell you that right from the start of the song. Yeah, the song has it’s moments but once again it is just decent and nothing more.

I Believe is the longest song on the album and also one of the best. Once again it’s not exactly head banging but it is powerful. It is also accompanied by an orchestra but thankfully no kick horns are present. Great vocals, great solos and a great atmosphere are all present as it all comes together for this track. The album finally ends with Longing, yet another acoustic number with some more orchestration. The odds are that the average Helloween fan, who was hoping for Keeper of the Seven Keys part three and who didn’t care much for the direction of Pink Bubbles Go Ape has already turned Chameleon off in disgust long before the album ends. I admit to not liking this album at all the first time I heard it despite the fact that I had been warned in advance.

So is it THAT bad? No, it isn’t and yes it is. Chameleon features some solid musical performances and some great vocals from Kiske. The only problem is that as a whole, the album just can’t measure up to other Helloween albums. Helloween is best at creating metal with power and melody, not …..Well, whatever Chameleon is. Individually the songs are better than my quote would indicate and they do grow on you in time (I would have quoted this album in the low 40’s the first time I heard it) but as a whole, this album is too long and too mellow to be up to the high standard of what you expect from this band. Chameleon was Kiske’s last performance with Helloween and as great as he was, I think I speak for most of us when I say that I am thankful that Helloween got Andi Deris and got back on track to making rock solid metal.

Killing Songs :
Giants, I Believe
Shane quoted 55 / 100
Marty quoted 65 / 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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