Helloween

Helloween is a German power metal band founded in the mid 1980s by members of Iron Fist and Powerfool. The band is known as one of the pioneering power metal bands, being part of the German heavy/speed/power metal scene .




History


Walls of Jericho

Helloween formed in 1984 in Hamburg, Germany. The original line-up included Kai Hansen on vocals and guitar, Michael Weikath on guitar, Markus Grosskopf on bass, and Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums. That year, the band signed with Noise Records and recorded two songs for a Noise compilation record called Death Metal with bands Hellhammer, Running Wild, and Dark Avenger. The two tracks were "Oernst of Life" by Weikath, and Hansen's "Metal Invaders," a faster version of which would appear on the band's first full-length album.


Helloween recorded and released its first record in 1985, a self-titled EP containing 5 tracks. Also that year, the band released its first full-length album, Walls of Jericho. During the following concert tour, Hansen had difficulties singing and playing the guitar at the same time. Kai's last recording as the band's lead singer was in 1986 on an EP titled Judas, which contained the song "Judas" and some live tracks. After that, Helloween began the search for a new vocalist.


Keeper of the Seven Keys, Parts I & II

The band's first choice was to recruit former Tyran' Pace vocalist Ralf Scheepers, who had sung lead for the band on the short "Judas" tour; he declined. The band then found an 18-year-old singer, Michael Kiske, from local Hamburg band Ill Prophecy. With its new lead singer in tow, Helloween approached record labels Noise International and RCA and proposed the release of a double-LP to introduce the new line-up. It was turned down. Instead, it recorded Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I, which was released in 1987. In 1988, Helloween released Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II, the companion album. MTV put the single "I Want Out" into heavy rotation and in support of its "Headbanger's Ball" show, it presented the inaugural Headbanger's Ball Tour with Helloween joining Bay Area thrash-metal band Exodus in support of headlining act Anthrax. The band was slotted in the more prestigious second spot, right before Anthrax's set. On the heels of this exposure to US audiences, the band achieved worldwide success.


Guitarist Kai Hansen unexpectedly left the band soon after the European leg of the Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II tour due to conflicts within the band, troubles with Noise International, and a growing dissatisfaction with life on tour. He was soon replaced by former Rampage guitarist Roland Grapow, who finished the rest of the tour with the band.


Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon

In 1989 the band released a live album called Live In The UK(Keepers Live in Japan and I Want Out Live in the United States), featuring material from its 1988 European tour. The remaining members continued, but ran into label problems with Noise, and after litigation which kept them from touring and releasing new material, were eventually released from their contract. A new album would not appear until 1991 when, after several rumors about the band's breaking up, they released Pink Bubbles Go Ape for their new record company, EMI. The album was less heavy, and with song titles such as "Heavy Metal Hamsters", "I'm Doing Fine, Crazy Man", and "Shit and Lobster", showed a shift toward???and an emphasis on???humor rather than the epic moods on previous releases. As a result, Pink Bubbles Go Ape failed both commercially and critically, and tensions started to build amongst the band members.


The pop-influenced follow-up Chameleon was released in 1993. Instead of taking a heavier approach, the band ventured into new territory, eschewing its signature double-guitar harmonies for synthesizers, horns, acoustic guitars, a children's chorus, country music, grunge, and swing. As with the previous album, Chameleon failed commercially and critically . Tensions within Helloween worsened, and the band split into three factions, with Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg on one side, Michael Weikath and Roland Grapow on the other, and Markus Grosskopf in the middle, trying to keep peace between the four men.


Kiske's departure

Shortly after, the band began to disintegrate. During the Chameleon tour, the band would often play to half-filled venues. Drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg fell ill due to mental and drug-related issues, and was eventually fired, replaced by session drummer Ritchie Abdel-Nabi. Meanwhile, the conflicts within the rest of the band worsened, with Michael Weikath refusing to work any longer with Michael Kiske. The decision was made to fire Kiske. Since his firing, Kiske has not spoken positively about Helloween and still claims to hate the whole heavy metal scene. Kiske released a solo album, 1996's Instant Clarity, which was pop and soft rock, except for "The Calling," co-written by Kiske and Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith, and the Smith-Hansen-Kiske collaboration "New Horizons", the only heavy metal songs on the album. Since his first solo effort, Kiske has reinvented himself musically and relegated himself to eclectic-sounding albums such as Readiness to Sacrifice, SupaRed, and the self-titled Kiske; Kiske will also occasionally be a guest singer on other artists' albums, but sometimes refuses to be credited by his given name in an effort to prevent being associated with the metal genre. In May 2008 Kiske released Past In Different Ways, an album that featured some of his old Helloween songs, albeit rearranged and re-recorded acoustically.


In addition to the firing of Kiske, Abdel-Nabi, whose inability to replicate Schwichtenberg's machine-gun style of drumming hindered Helloween's ability to play fan-favorites like "Eagle Fly Free" and "How Many Tears" live, was let go by the band. 1993 would come to a close for Helloween with no singer, no drummer, and no record contract (EMI released the band from its agreement when sales numbers for Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon were low).


Master of the Rings, The Time of the Oath and Better Than Raw

Helloween returned in 1994 with former Pink Cream 69 frontman Andi Deris as its new lead singer and Uli Kusch, formerly of Kai Hansen's Gamma Ray, on the drums. Deris was approached by Weikath to join the band in 1991, but he declined, despite being intrigued by the offer and dealing with emerging conflicts between him and Pink Cream 69. In the years since, however, Kiske was fired from Helloween and the issues within Pink Cream 69 worsened. Faced with the inevitability of his firing, Deris accepted Weikath's offer. Despite not possessing the four-octave range boasted by Kiske, Deris's vocal similarity to Kai Hansen, his enthusiasm, his strong songwriting skills, the return of the "classic" Helloween sound in songs such as "Where The Rain Grows" and "The Game Is On," and the seeming rejuvenation of Weikath and Grapow seemed to strike a chord with the fans. With this new lineup and a new record contract with Castle Communications, Helloween released its comeback album, Master of the Rings.


In 1995, original drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg committed suicide by jumping in front of a train in his native Hamburg. In the years since his departure from Helloween, Schwichtenberg had gotten involved in drug-use and suffered from depression. Dedicated to his memory, 1996's The Time Of The Oath re-established the band as one of the most popular European metal bands (see 1996 in music). Following another world tour, a double live album called High Live was released. In 1998 Helloween released Better Than Raw, one of the band's heaviest albums since the full-length debut. The subsequent supporting tour was made up of stops in Europe, Japan, and Brazil, but on December 20, 1998, the band visited New York and played a show in Coney Island, the first show for Helloween in the United States in nearly a decade. The band would follow Better Than Raw with a 1999 release titled Metal Jukebox, a cover-album featuring Helloween's versions of songs from such bands as Jethro Tull, Faith No More, The Beatles, ABBA, and Deep Purple.


The Dark Ride and Rabbit Don't Come Easy

The year 2000 saw the release of The Dark Ride, a more experimental and darker album than their previous releases. It came complete with downtuned guitars and a gruffer singing style from Deris. Immediately following the tour, Helloween parted ways with guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch. One version of events states that Weikath, Deris and Grosskopf felt that Kusch and Grapow, in particular, were spending more time on and paying more attention to their new side-project, Masterplan, and that because they were not devoted 100% to Helloween they were let go; another version states that Grapow and Kusch had pushed to continue the direction that the band had taken with The Dark Ride and that Weikath, not wanting a repeat of the Kiske situation, huddled with Deris and Grosskopf, whereby the decision was made to get rid of them. In any case, they were fired, via e-mail (with Grapow's wife finding out before he did that he had been fired), and decided to make Masterplan their full-time band, while their replacements were soon found in guitarist Sascha Gerstner (ex-Freedom Call, Neumond), and drummer Mark Cross (ex-Metalium, Kingdom Come, At Vance (touring support), currently in Firewind), culminating with the recording of another studio album, titled Rabbit Don't Come Easy, in 2003. Cross could not finish the album due to mononucleosis, completing only two tracks; the drum tracks were completed by Mot?¶rhead's Mikkey Dee. Stefan Schwarzmann, former drummer of Running Wild and Accept would shortly thereafter take over the drumming duties. Despite a somewhat tepid response to the album, Helloween nonetheless completed a successful world tour, highlighted by the return of classic songs such as "Starlight", "Murderer", "Keeper of the Seven Keys" and "How Many Tears" to the setlist. Additionally, the band toured the United States for the first time since 1989 playing to sold-out crowds at nearly every venue.


Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy and Gambling with the Devil

2005 saw yet another line-up change following the "Rabbits on the Run" tour as it became apparent that Helloween and Stefan Schwarzmann did not share the same musical vision. As further noted by the band, he had some trouble performing fast drum parts, so he was replaced by Dani L?¶ble, the previous drummer of German metal band Rawhead Rexx. A change in record company also followed as they inked a deal with German label SPV. Any fears that what had now become a revolving door of band members would affect the quality of their new album were laid to rest as Helloween's new studio album, titled Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy, was released in October 28, 2005 in Germany, and November 8 in the U.S.A. to commercial and critical acclaim. The album had a pre-release single, Mrs. God, as well as a video for the track. The track Light the Universe was released as a single on November 22, featuring Candice Night of Blackmore's Night on guest vocals. She also appears in the video clip for that track.


In late 2006, Helloween filmed and recorded shows in S??o Paulo (Brazil), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Tokyo (Japan), for their live album Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006. The DVD also featured extra footage of the band as well as interviews and a road movie. This is the second Helloween live album to feature Andi Deris as frontman, and third overall. It enjoyed chart success in several countries: Germany: 9 (DVD) & 58 (CD), Sweden: 9 (DVD), France: 10 (DVD).


Helloween has since completed their latest studio album Gambling with the Devil, which was released on , 2007. It has received many positive reviews, with most fans praising the album as being one of the best Deris era albums. Despite being one of Helloween's heavier albums, it is noted for featuring more keyboards. "As Long As I Fall", the first single, was released in early September and available only via download (save for Japan, where it was released on CD). The video for the song is available at their official site.


Helloween teamed up with Kai Hansen's current band Gamma Ray for their 2007/2008 "Hellish Rock" world tour, that started in early November 2007. Helloween were headlining and Gamma Ray were labeled as the "very special guest" with most shows also having fellow German "guest" Axxis. The tour went through Europe, Asia, South America as well as a few dates in the US. The tour is notable for Kai Hansen stepping on stage with his former band fellows Weikath and Grosskopf to perform hits "I Want Out" and "Future World" in the last encore segment of Helloween.


2009 Special Anniversary Album

In late 2009, Helloween will release a 25th Anniversary album. The album will be a compilation of 10 of the band's best songs, rerecorded by the current lineup, and a 17 minute "Keepers Medley" recorded by a 70 piece orchestra from Prague mixing together "The Keeper of the Seven Keys", "Halloween", and "The King for 1000 years", the title is Unarmed - Best Of 25th Anniversary"


Members


Main article: List of Helloween band members
Andi Deris ??? Vocals (1993-present)
Michael Weikath ??? Guitar (1984-present)
Sascha Gerstner ??? Guitar (2002-present)
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass (1984-present)
Daniel L?¶ble ??? Drums (2005-present)
Era
Lineup
Album(s)
1984-1986
Kai Hansen ??? Vocals, Guitar
Michael Weikath ??? Guitar, Backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, Backing vocals
Ingo Schwichtenberg ??? Drums
Helloween (1985)
Walls of Jericho (1985)
1986-1989
Michael Kiske ??? Vocals
Michael Weikath ??? Guitar, backing vocals
Kai Hansen ??? Guitar, backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, backing vocals
Ingo Schwichtenberg ??? Drums
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 (1987)
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 (1988)
1989-1993
Michael Kiske ??? Vocals
Michael Weikath ??? Guitar, backing vocals
Roland Grapow ??? Guitar, backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, backing vocals
Ingo Schwichtenberg ??? Drums
Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
Chameleon (1993)
1993-2001
Andi Deris ??? Vocals
Michael Weikath ??? Guitar, Backing vocals
Roland Grapow ??? Guitar, Backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, Backing vocals
Uli Kusch ??? Drums, Backing vocals
Master of the Rings (1994)
The Time of the Oath (1996)
Better Than Raw (1998)
The Dark Ride (2000)
2002
Andi Deris ??? Vocals
Michael Weikath ??? Guitars, Backing vocals
Sascha Gerstner ??? Guitars, Backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, Backing vocals
Mark Cross ??? Drums
Mikkey Dee ??? session Drums
Rabbit Don't Come Easy (2003)
2003-2005
Andi Deris ??? Vocals
Michael Weikath ??? Guitars, Backing vocals
Sascha Gerstner ??? Guitars, Backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, Backing vocals
Stefan Schwarzmann ??? Drums (2002)

 


2005-present
Andi Deris ??? Vocals
Michael Weikath ??? Guitar, Backing vocals
Sascha Gerstner ??? Guitar, Backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf ??? Bass, Backing vocals
Daniel L?¶ble ??? Drums
Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy (2005)
Gambling with the Devil (2007)
Unarmed - Best of 25th Anniversary (2009)
Former tour-only members
Jorn Ellerbrock ??? Keyboards (1988-2003)
Ritchie Abdel Nabi ??? Drums (1993)

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Original Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helloween