Time flies. It's
been 25 long years since Helloween helped kick-start the Power Metal genre. To
help celebrate this anniversary the band has released this 'Best of'
compilation: "Unarmed." Nothing unusual until now. Helloween, however, have
decided to do things differently by re-recording a selection of their more
well-known songs with totally different musical arrangements.
Thus 'Dr. Stein'
has a saxophone replacing the guitar, 'I Want Out' features a children's choir,
'Fallen To Pieces' is given a Cool Jazz rendition.....yes, I did say
different. But does this album work or are the songs simply wearing an
emperor's new clothes?
At first it felt
disorienting to hear the Helloween classics redone so radically but having
overcome that feeling, I discovered that some of them actually work quite well.
For example in a 17-minute medley inspired by their 'Keeper Of The 7 Keys' epic,
the orchestrations are quite good and fit seamlessly with the more 'Rockier'
parts of the composition. In a version of the song much more melancholic than
the original, I quite enjoyed 'A Tale That Wasn’t Right'. Other newer versions,
however, just fall flat. An unplugged version of 'Future World' sounds insipid.
'Eagle Fly Free' here sounds awful. Idem for '‘Dr Stein'.
"Unarmed..." is a mixed bag. It is obviously something for the fans although I
do suspect there will also be several who'll think their favourite Helloween
songs are being raped.
Also of potential
interest to Helloween fans is the existence of a limited edition of "Unarmed..."
(on which this review was based) - an attractively presented digi-pack featuring
the album plus a bonus DVD. Included within the latter are guitarist Michael
Weikath and singer Andi Deris explaining the story behind each of the songs in
this album with snippets of the band in the recording studio. There's also a
video-clip of the "Unarmed..." version of 'Dr Stein'. Interesting bonus, if