Helloween - Gambling With The Devil
SPV
Melodic Power Metal
12 songs (57'37)
Release year: 2007
Helloween, SPV
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the month
The release of Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy and the massive world tour that followed was just what the doctor ordered for Helloween. Many questioned the band's intentions with the use of the "Keeper" name but were silenced upon hearing the finished product. The timing was perfect as with their popularity waning, Helloween needed to re-invent themselves in order to position themselves back at the top of the power metal heap. With the success of the album and the "Legacy" tour that resulted in the release of the Legacy World Tour DVD to chronicle the spectacle of their live performances, the pressure was on to come up with a more than worthy follow-up release. Fast forward two years later and we see the release of their new album Gambling With The Devil and their first for the SPV label. The gathering of musical ideas and getting them down in demo form took a rather unique twist this time around. An FTP server was set up in order for the band members to upload musical ideas as well as to download tracks to add instruments/voices to. The result is that the rough demos for each and every track on this album were compiled without the band members being in the same room with each other. This made the actual studio recording process a lot smoother and allowed the band to not be holed up for months gathering new ideas and demoing new material.

Gambling With The Devil is a collection of songs, loosely based on the concept of good vs evil as well as making the right choices in your life. The experience of trying to re-invent Helloween from their last album has continued and once again we are treated to another outstanding album from these German masters of power metal. Biff Byford from Saxon provides the eerie voice for the intro track Crack The Riddle before the powerful punch of the opening track Kill It kicks in. Aggressive and heavy riffing as well as more sinister vocals from Andi Deris highlight this track that reminds me of Push from Better Than Raw. Epic interludes and more melodic vocal lines remind you that this is in fact a Helloween track! The rest of this album is pure classic Helloween in every sense of the word yet with some subtle modern overtones to keep up with the times and not sound dated in any way. Speedy, happy Helloween is still ever present especially with the 7 minute tour-de-force The Saints. This one has some sprinkles of keyboards to give the track more of a Freedom Call sound and the chorus is just huge! Speedy harmonic leads and an awesome instrumental break provide a showcase for guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner to flex their muscles and I can see this one being a concert highlight. This track, besides the mighty The King For A Thousand Years from Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy is one of the best Helloween tracks in many years. Other speed demons include Paint A New World, a track that besides the use of de-tuned guitars, has all the speed and energy of the Keeper era of the late 80's. Dreambound uses the tried and true muted speedy guitar riffs over hammering double bass with another amazing chorus and some very cool neo-classical themed harmony lead guitar breaks. Again, the heaviness of this track reminds me of the late 80's especially with the more up-front and attacking riff style. Heaven Tells No Lies uses more of a stuttering yet speedy riff pattern and the use of layered keyboards gives the track more of an epic feel.

The first single from the album is an Andi Deris penned track entitled As Long As I Fall. A little like If I Could Fly from The Dark Ride, this one's a very catchy and well crafted song that uses piano in the arrangement giving the whole track more of a commercial feel. The chorus is outstanding and one of the better Andi Deris penned singles in many years. Other tracks like Final Fortune and I.M.E. use more mid-tempo styles with I.M.E. using a very different riffing style than normal for Helloween. The catchy but very cheesy Can Do It is either going to delight fans or make them cringe. I personally like it with it's big happy chorus, and very commercial feel but I can sense a sharp division amongst the fans on this one. Fallen To Pieces is another power ballad-ish track that sees Andi's voice soaring once again for the chorus but I really like the sudden speedy tempo for the lead breaks. The Bells Of The Seven Hells is another killer with solid "muscular" Keeper-era riffing.

Overall, the melodies still soar but it's one of their heavier albums in a long time. It still has all of the classic Helloween-isms and has a few influences from The Dark Ride, Better Than Raw and healthy doses of classic Keeper-era Helloween. The flow of this album, with track after track of quality, really reminds me of the Master of The Rings album, Andi Deris' first album with the band. Gambling With The Devil uses a stronger and heavier riff-oriented song-writing approach with keyboards blended in to thicken the overall sound. Andi Deris has turned in yet another killer vocal performance and I see this album as more of a "return to the roots" type of album even more so than Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy. It manages to finally bridge the current era with the past Michael Kiske era of this band like no other Andi Deris-era album has thus far. For any Helloween fan or any fan of melodic and heavy power metal....it's all here...........

Killing Songs :
Kill It, The Saints, As Long As I Fall, Final Fortune, The Bells OfThe Seven Hells, Dreambound and Heaven Tells No Lies
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Aleksie quoted 90 / 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 - Legacy World Tour - Live On Three Continents reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
To see all 19 reviews click here
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