Helloween - Walls of Jericho
Noise Records
Speed/Power Metal
9 songs (40'53)
Release year: 1985
Helloween, Noise Records
Reviewed by Olivier

Not only this album is a classic, but Helloween's debut is considered by many the best album the band has ever released. Perhaps because Walls of Jericho features Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, Unisonic) as vocalist, arguably one of the most controversial singers in Power Metal (some worship him, others cannot stand him), or because it is easily the rawest and fastest of all Helloween albums, which makes it a unique effort in the band's discography. It was at any rate a big slap in the face in 1985 when it was released on LP, and a brutal knee-kick in the nuts when the extended CD edition came out in 1988.

The 1985 LP kicks off with - what else? - blowing trumpets, leading to the inevitable collapse of the Walls of Jericho. And then... the guys sound the charge with the utterly devastating opening riff of the fast-paced Ride the Sky. Not only you can almost feel pure energy coursing through your body, but that solemn and majestic bridge and that neck-destroyer instrumental part blow your mind away. Breathtaking. The descending riff of Reptile comes then, and while it's not the best song on this album, it has this "uplifting bridge-smashing chorus" combination you will find in some songs of the Helloween's albums to come. In sum: classic. Right after, Guardians - an excellent speedy Big Brother-themed song - kicks in and suddenly blasts everything away. And how not to shout "We're puppets on a string!" at the end of the song! Simply impossible.

Phantoms of Death's opening riff reminds a lot of Iron Maiden's Two Minutes to Midnight. But the rest of the song is even better, especially the instrumental part which basically punches your face and makes your neck ache even more. It is common knowledge nowadays: if you are afraid of a sore neck, listening to Walls of Jericho is generally a very bad idea. Especially when Metal Invaders is the next song. Oh boy, what a song. I am not even going to mention the cataclysmic riffs and chorus and the silly yet swinging lyrics, but focus on this tiny 7-note bass thing that punctuates three times the last chorus, just before the end. It is nothing, it is even the simplest thing in the world to be honest, but it is friggin' perfect. Per-fect. It makes of a cheesy and over-the-top chorus an eventful one; you almost feel insecure when Kai yells "Be careful tonight", just because of this 7-note bass thingy alone. Beauty and devil both definitely lie in the details.

Gorgar has almost reached a legendary status nowadays. Not because of the quality of the song, but because of what it deals with: the first speaking pinball machine ever made. Of all the light silly songs Helloween has ever delivered, Gorgar is probably the best just because of its theme. But no time to smile, for then comes the next song, Heavy Metal (Is The Law). Mandatory use of caps here, sorry: THIS IS A BLOODY METAL ANTHEM. It's corny (awfully so), but catchy, easy to remember, and makes you sing just like any regular anthem. Poor and brilliant at the same time. Perfect. And finally comes the last track of this 1985 LP, How Many Tears. The first of a litany of peace-loving songs Helloween will deliver in the future albums. It is fast, with a melancholic break in the middle and an insane rolling rhythm guitar everywhere else. A great ending to the LP.

Now, the six songs also included in the 1988 CD edition are just about on par with the content of the LP! The devastating Starlight is just as efficient as Ride the Sky, the fantastic Murderer has this aforementioned chorus-punctuating guitar which you can find in Metal Invader, the ballsy Warrior starts with gunfire and then features a tremendous and fierce galloping riff. Not to mention the mythical opening of the at times creepy Victim of Fate, the crazy and epic solo of Cry For Freedom and the government-blaming and politicians-loathing Judas which ends the CD nicely.

Walls of Jericho is certainly not a flawless album. Kai Hansen is not perfect, the production is not either and the songwriting is - truth be told - a bit immature. Yet its flow, its raw energy, its unique feeling has to this day never been approached again by the band. The sign of a true classic.

Killing Songs :
All.
Olivier quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Helloween that we have reviewed:
Helloween - Straight out of Hell reviewed by Chris and quoted 92 / 100
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
Helloween - Legacy World Tour - Live On Three Continents reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
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