Home > Music > Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 (1988)

Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 (1988)

folder.jpgA year after their first album with Michael “Ernie” Kiske, Helloween continued their saga of a locksmith’s descent into gibbering madness with Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2. This time, they push even further into pop singalong territory, and what would you know? It actually makes for a better album overall than its predecessor! I was nonplussed when I figured out that something was gelling better, and this lead me on a journey of discovery to figure out how so much could change in one year. Like Kiske 2 (I’m calling it that because I think it’s funnier than other abbreviations), that turned out to be less epic than expected.

Like the last album, this album lives and dies on its in-song cohesion. It’s hard to build this up if you’re constantly shifting between melodrama and comedic shenanigans. Kiske 2 improves on the emotional whiplash of its successor in two ways. First, listeners will notice greater segregation between more the serious, emotional content and the outright comedy songs. Beyond that, there’s simply more goofy antics here. As far as I can tell, Kiske era Helloween is good at making me laugh, at least on the Keepers duology. Case in point – “Dr. Stein” is pretty much a master class in how to do especially cartoony power metal, with its absurd lyrics about genetic engineering gone mad supported by the deft application of stereotypical horror motifs and the obligatory singalong choruses. The non-comedy songs benefit from this separation, though for whatever reason this album’s epic closer (“Keeper of the Seven Keys”) has some strange issues with organization that weren’t present before, resulting in an unusually jerky and fitful conclusion to this album. Not sure how that happened.

Meanwhile, the musicianship beneath these aesthetic changes hasn’t changed substantially from the last album. It makes sense, at least – the lineup was unchanged, and the overall style of the album is about the same as before (yuks aside).  The only significant addition I can detect is a more substantial keyboard presence, but even this is much like it was on Keepers – it’s a tool primarily for adding texture and sound effects to the songs here. I don’t really have any problem with this – these early Helloween albums have good, if not especially flashy musicianship, so it’s best to take these relatively small changes in stride and not obssess too much about them.

It’s no surprise after all of this that Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 is about as good as its predecessor – it’s just that the overall strengths of the album are flipped. Your preferences may vary, but the crossover demographic for each half of Keepers has to be substantial, right?

Highlights: “Eagle Fly Free”, “You Always Walk Alone”, “Dr. Stein”

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  1. 2018/12/31 at 16:29

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