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Helloween (formed in 1984) is a German power metal and speed metal band, who are extolled by many for pioneering the power metal genre introduced by their 1987 album “Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1”, hailing from Hamburg, Germany.
Originally comprised of vocalist and guitarist Kai Hansen, guitarist Michael Weikath, bassist Markus Grosskopf, and drummer Ingo Schwchtenberg, in 1984 Halloween signed with Noise Records. The group’s recording debut came with a pair of tracks for the Noise Records compilation “Death Metal”, featuring label-mates Hellhammer, Running Wild, and Dark Avenger. Halloween’s debut self-titled EP was released in 1985 earning a spread of positive reviews. Featuring the intensity of speed metal and introducing the band to a wide audience, the record was followed by the full-length album “Walls of Jericho” in October 1985. Once again proving popular among fans, the album would be the last before Helloween took the reigns of a new power metal genre, becoming pioneers of a new sound.
A subsequent EP “Judas”, released in 1986, marked the removal of Kai Hansen as vocalist, who had been unable to fulfil both singing and guitar duties. Hansen moved to playing just guitar and vocal responsibilities fell to 18-year old Hamburg local Michael Kiske, who recorded on Helloween’s sophomore album “Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1”. Dubbed the album that invented power metal, the record earned widespread critical acclaim and peaked at No. 15 on the German Album Chart. A year later the album’s follow-up “Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 2” was released, with which the single “I Want Out” was generously featured on MTV in support of its “Headbager’s Ball”. The group subsequently supported Anthrax on the Headbanger’s Ball Tour, exposing the group to a U.S. audience, and ultimately paving the way for worldwide success.
Guitarist Hansen left the band following the European leg of the “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II” tour and was replaced by Roland Grapow. The live album “Live in the U.K.” arrived in 1989 after which Halloween experienced difficulties with Noise Records, which resulted in the band not putting out any new material until 1991’s “Pink Bubbles Go Ape”. Spawning the singles “Kids of the Century” and “Number One”, the record was most popular in Scandinavia but also found modest success in Austria, Japan, and the UK. Adopting synthesisers, horns, and acoustic guitars for their next release, 1993’s “Chameleon”, peaked at No. 8 in Japan despite performing poorly elsewhere. The band’s supporting tour highlighted a tumultuous period for the group and by 1993 Helloween were without singer Kiske and drummer Abdel-Nabi. A year later, with vocalist Andi Deris and drummer Uli Kusch, Halloween reappeared to release “Master of the Rings”, marking a return to form for the band. Following the suicide of former drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, the band issued the tribute album “The Time of the Oath” which saw Halloween return to the heights of the European metal hierarchy. The full-length “Better Than Raw” followed in 1998, supported by a relentless world tour including dates in Europe, Japan, Brazil, and the U.S.
An album of Scorpions, Jethro Tull, Faith No More, and ABBA covers appeared in 1999 entitled “Metal Jukebox”, following which the band released their ninth studio album “The Dark Ride” in 2000. Guitarist Grapow and drummer Kusch were let go after the release and were replaced by Sascha Gerstner and Mark Cross respectively, who recorded on “Rabbit Don’t Come Easy” in 2003. The full-length “Gambling with the Devil” hit the shelves in 2007, followed three years later by “7 Sinners” in 2010. 2013’s “Straight Out of Hell” was led by the single “Burning Sun”, and suceeded by the full-length “My God-Given Right” in 2015.