Remarkable how singer Andi Deris can shift gears, from a Bruce Dickinson range to a guttural Udo Dirkschneider growl. On Straight Out of Hell, Helloween’s music can navigate the same outstanding balancing act, going from a speedy thrash sound to a melodic bliss. Perfect example of this is the very satisfying “World of War.” On a personal note, I can listen to this song a thousand times and not get sick of it as it goes from an amazing Anthrax-type riff (the guitar sound is easily 5 stars!) to melodic metal perfection in the chorus. Other songs, like “Live Now,” work this formula to a lesser extent but “World of War is the pinnacle.

“Waiting For the Thunder” and the somewhat ’80s-sounding, somewhat saccharine ballad “Hold Me In Your Arms” are Helloween’s attempt toward a more commercial appeal. Not necessarily bad songs, but they drag everything off course when fitted on the album back-to-back. The title track, “Make Fire Catch the Fly,” “Far From the Stars,” “Burning Sun” and “Years” resemble the classic Helloween: a giant cocktail of speed metal and melodic ecstasy of in-sync guitar licks with beaming choruses (almost a tinge operatic at times). And sometimes this template can grate on the nerves when subjected to a full album’s worth — but that’s what the aforementioned balance of thrashy gems like “World of War” come in. The most interesting song, however, is “Asshole.” The plodding anger expressed within can appear to be a modern version of Accept’s 1981 “Son Of a Bitch.” However, while “Son Of a Bitch” is an all-time great metal song, “Asshole” is more an exercise in anger management.

The conclusion is that Helloween’s Straight Out of Hell never disappoints the listener when it’s all on full throttle.

Note: There will be a limited edition of Straight Out of Hell featuring premium packaging and bonus tracks, including an exclusive Hammond version of the song “Burning Sun” in memory of Deep Purple’s recently deceased organ player Jon Lord. Straight Out Of Hell will be released January 22, 2013.


Label: The End Records (CD format can be ordered here).