Helloween (Keeper of the Seven Keys) - Smuttynose Brewing Co. (All Scream)
Keeper of the Seven Keys
Once upon a time, perhaps on a Hallow’s Eve, before the genre of power metal had cemented its conventions enough to wallow in self-aware preposterousness and stagnant formulae, German innovators Helloween audaciously defined the genre with their organic sense of playful humor, stylish virtuosity, and irresistible sense of melodic songwriting. Now with a long career entering its fifth decade, the band has produced numerous records that boast of these talents: from their speed metal debut Walls of Jericho to the criminally underrated and genre-fusing Chameleon (an album so divisive it supposedly nearly destroyed the band forever) to later career reinventions like The Dark Ride, Rabbit Don’t Come Easy and Gambling With the Devil.
But the band’s reputation still lies mainly on their two Keeper of the Seven Keys discs. On Part I listeners were introduced to vocalist Michael Kiske, a singer whose impeccably eccentric voice bellowed and wailed from an alarmingly upper register.
by Smuttynose Brewing Co.
We scream, you scream, we all scream for All Scream! Step up to the window and be prepared to shriek with joy as you’re consumed by layers of nostalgic flavors that you probably forgot existed. The classic orange creamsicle re-invited in beer form!
Kicking off with the tempered ferocity of a barnstormer like ‘I’m Alive’, Helloween unveil something that perhaps other similarly skilled musicians could have – and have later – accomplished, but elsewhere songs like ‘A Tale That Wasn’t Right’ and ‘Future World’ have no right to be as good as they are. As such they still – over thirty years on – remain as living testaments, as some sort of ridiculous gift from ‘the Metal Gods’ to us, the mortals.
And don’t pooh-pooh the theatricality. This is Helloween, after all.
The former, ‘Tale’, is a lachrymose crooner, with Kiske’s balladeering among Kai Hansen and Michael Weikath’s guitars making for a deliciously overwrought bit of rock and roll melodrama. The latter, ‘Future World’, is the suspiciously optimistic ear-worm and concert sing-a-long that balances a propulsive instrumental intensity with a suspiciously jovial lyrical conundrum – a lack of clarity in one particular word of the chorus, begging the question: is it “a world that’s full of love” or a “world that’s full of lies”? Or am I reading too much into this?
The album comes to its climax with the excessively epic ‘Halloween’, a thirteen-minute display of the ambition and showmanship that would continue to define Helloween for the entirety of their careers. It is a particularly festive centerpiece for this seasonally themed selection.
Accordingly, we have paired this autumnal classic with a brand-new October 2020 drop, beckoning us towards a sweet and delectable nostalgia trip. From Smuttynose’s Smuttlabs, All Scream evokes those infamous orange creamsicles without descending into a mire of sickly stickiness. One can sense the lactose strongly on each sip, making the beer warm and filling. And yet All Scream still retains the wheaty core one would expect from a Pale Ale, albeit much mellower and gentle than many of the offerings available. Here’s the trick: a crisp fall night under a dim, warm light could not be better topped off than with a pack of this delightful treat.