Friday, 24 September 2010

CD Review: Walls Of Jericho, by Helloween (1985)

Helloween's debut effort is filled with speed, passion, and glorious twin guitar work. It is also filled with weak song arrangements, simplistic tunes, and some really tortured vocals. It doesn't matter: the good far outweighs the bad.

This CD release combines a "mini-LP" of 5 songs (originally a self-titled EP), followed by The Walls Of Jericho, and the added track Judas. This represents the entire output of the band with guitarist Kai Hansen on vocals, and fortunately, he eventually realized that he is a much better guitar player than singer. Future releases featured the more accomplished Michael Kiske on vocals.

As for the Walls Of Jericho CD, Helloween do an admirable job. Clearly inspired by Iron Maiden but willing to turn all the knobs harder, the guitar work is fast, energetic, accurate, and melodic. The solo breaks, with Hansen and Michael Weikath duelling melodically at high speed, are rarely less than breathtaking, and the band just gallops through the tracks with evident enthusiasm, a showcase of controlled velocity. Ride The Sky and Metal Invaders, with all the elements coming together, are the best examples of what Helloween were capable of in their formative years.

The talent is raw, however, and many of the song structures surrounding the guitar solos are relatively mundane and less than inspired. Many of the tracks sound as though the non-solo sections were thrown together just to create a song - any song - to highlight the guitar work. And Hansen's weak vocals further detract from some of the tracks.

But as soon as any of the Walls Of Jericho songs begins to genuinely falter, those guitars segments take over, magical metal is created, and all is forgiven.


Kai Hansen - Vocals, Guitars
Michael Weikath - Guitars
Markus Grobkopf - Bass
Ingo Schwichtenberg - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Starlight - 8
2. Murderer - 8
3. Warrior - 8
4. Victim Of Fate - 9
5. Cry For Freedom - 8
6. Walls Of Jericho - n/a (short instrumental)
7. Ride The Sky - 10
8. Reptile - 6
9. Guardians - 7
10. Phantoms Of Death - 8
11. Metal Invaders - 10 *see below*
12. Gorgar - 7
13. Heavy Metal (Is The Law) - 8
14. How Many Tears - 8
15. Judas - 7

Average: 8.00

Engineered and Mixed by Harris Johns.
Produced by Harris Johns and Helloween.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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