- "Rabbit Don\'t Come Easy"
Nuclear Blast 2003
After a long wait since the last record and serious line-up changes, we got another good effort from the once (and for many still) the best German power metal band that ever stalked the Earth. Inventors of their unique genre are with Rabbit Don't Come Easy returning back to their roots. But what it is the most exciting is that they are still considerable of doing something new in their music. Since the keepers era they were experimenting with their sound. It was not always a good thing (just remember horrid Chameleon), but this time they have proven that after all those years Helloween can still deliver the goods to the world of power metal. So, do we have another happy Helloween album? Yes, compared to the dark and even gloomy The Dark Ride this one is more recognizable Helloween record in a way of first two albums with Andi Deris on vocals.
As it opens with highly melodic up-tempo Just A Little Sign (released also as a single), the first impression gives the typical Helloween sound with fast picking over the riffs and also through the bridges. All the power hymns from the album such as Just A Little Sign, Open Your Life, Hell Was Made In Heaven and Listen To The Flies (the best one in my opinion) will make every old fan proud. Proven maestros of doing that!
Never Be A Star with its intro reminds me of Perfect Gentleman from the Master Of The Rings album, while hellish but melodic thrasher Liar and gloomy Back Against The Wall, where Andi sounds really evil, returns us back on The Dark Ride's atmosphere. They have also used some oriental harmony on another excellent hymn Sun 4 The World.
Sascha Gerstner (ex-Freedom Call) proves as the right choice for the new guitarist and also as a songwriter. He has done his job correctly and added some representative full sound and fresh ideas to the band, especially on Sun 4 The World. Andi again confirms his status of one of the most amazing power metal singer due to his unique voice. Don't Stop Being Crazy, the only ballad on the record, is his representative work. Hell Was Made In Heaven, where some ideas were also contributed by bass guitarist and founding member Markus Grosskopf, is a perfect combination of old and new Helloween. The longest track Nothing To Say in Weiki's scenario is again something new in their music. This song is truly a little masterpiece of the whole record. With its funky groovy beat that further on heads into excellent melancholic harmony driven by flute it easily sends shivers down the spine.
The production behind the drums is amazing. I must remind you that during the recording process they used two drummers. Mark Cross who left the building (plays drums on tracks 7 and 11) was during the recording sessions replaced with Mickey Dee (Mötorhead). A real body drummer hits with full forces and because of that the rhythm line o certain songs sounds really teutonic with Mickey delivering a real bombs one after another, although it may sometimes lack of Uli Kusch's (former drummer and now with Masterplan) creativity. Overall production is superb. One of the best producers in German metal Charlie Bauerfiend ensured that. Orchestration greatly fits in some songs and it is Jørn Ellerbrock who once again did an excellent keyboard job. Limited edition digipack also includes a song Far Away which is more than just a bonus track.
I can not say that Rabbit Don't Come Easy is better from the masterworks such as Better Than Raw or The Dark Ride, but it certainly brings some good old memories from their golden years. It joins together diverse songs that are carried in a fashion of previous record and at the same time also captures some old eighties "happy, happy Helloween" vibes. Now with the newcomer Stefan Schwarzman (ex-Accept and Running Wild) on drums I hope that this line-up will long live. Forget about all the bunch of new and silly power metal bands that are copying something that was invented by this band during the time when they were at the top of the metal world along with the likes such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Here you have the finest power metal in its purest emotion. Pumpkins are fresh and ready to rumble again!