Helloween - Gambling With The Devil Premiere

Written by: wrathchild
Published: 19.09.2007
After a tough day at work and a terrible journey through the underground of Paris, I finally reached the Hard Rock Café, a classy bar where Helloween was holding a listening session of their new album, Gambling With The Devil, followed with a press conference.






Unfortunately, I was a bit late so I missed the intro track and perhaps one more song. Too bad, knowing that this intro track features Biff Byford from Saxon, doing the narration work. As Sascha Gerstner and Michael Weikath explained during the conference, Biff was chosen for many reasons: first, the narrator they used to work with on The Legacy is suffering from cancer, therefore they didn't want to bother him with that and chose someone else to do the job. Then, Biff had already worked with Freedom Call (Sascha's former band) and with Charlie Bauerfeind (Helloween's beloved producer, who both Sascha and Weiki praised during the conference) so he was probably the best choice they could make.

When I entered the room, what I could hear was fast and solid power metal. Quite linear but powerful enough to have me pound the ground with my feet. This I kept doing during the following tracks, even though I must admit it's not really the Helloween I prefer, since I enjoy more varied tracks like "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" or "The King For A 1000 Years". Yet, those first songs of Gambling With The Devil are quite good, thanks to the punchy and loud sound resulting of Charlie being the great producer he is on one hand, and to the powerful drumming of Dani Löble, the newest member of the band, on the other hand. His performance on the new record is great, and confirms what I felt twice during their last tour: Dani is perfectly suited for the job.

Then came a series of "not-so-fast-yet-still-heavy" songs, introducing more variety to the music. I particularly liked what must be something like the 7th song of the album, with some quiet piano notes at the very beginning, closely followed by a clean guitar passage leading to some more electric riffs, intensifying with time.
I also need to tell that the same kind of piano notes, setting a dark and mysterious atmosphere, are used on a few songs all along the album, especially on intros. Also, keyboards are used to give more power and majesty to the main chords played by the guitars. They give a sort of "grandiose" touch to the whole thing.
As for the vocals, it's typical Andi Deris singing style. Quite monotonous and predictable. While he may seem to sing with a heavier voice during the verses, the flow is often similar from one song to another. The choruses are softer, I mean less words, each lasting longer as if the choruses were "flying" over the music, you know.
Speaking of length, all songs on the album are quite long - at least there's no short one (expect, perhaps, the intro I couldn't listen to).

The last tracks are getting faster again. One of them is called "Can Do It" and is the "happy" song of the album, or should I say the "positive" song, as Weiki told us. He went on saying that another song that he thought was almost too positive was left out. But even "Can Do It" didn't sound as funny or positive as the usual funny or positive Helloween songs, at least not on the first listening of the album.



Gambling With The Devil


After the listening was over, Sascha and Weiki (the two guitarists of the band) entered and sat in front of the journalists (who were suddenly as quiet as I was throughout the evening - I must say the listening part was not exactly pleasant due to most of the people in the room chatting with each other, sometimes quite loudly), waiting for questions. I already gave you a few bits in the above paragraph, so now I'll go on and list some other important facts that have risen during this conference. I know... You probably expected a full transcription of the event, but my poor recorder did what it is the best at: recording poorly. Let's proceed.

They agreed that Gambling With The Devil was not another Keeper album, and was actually different from its acclaimed predecessor The Legacy. In fact, they wanted to keep the quality of the latter and do something new, something modern yet still bearing the Helloween trademarks. Above all, they didn't want to repeat themselves. On whether they succeeded or not, I must say I'm not sure what the answer is. Let's say it doesn't sound totally new or modern or extremely Helloweenesque, but it's quite new, modern and Helloweenesque for sure. Although I heartily agree with them saying that the album's got some "heavy riffing guitars and powerful drumming".
Weikath reacted to Sascha's heavy riffing guitars statement by agreeing, and added that it was much better than, say, the riffs on "The Dark Ride" album, which contained "riffs like 15 years old can play." Weikath did somewhat mock "The Dark Ride" on many occasions that evening, but in the end, he said he had nothing against it now, as it's been a long time since it was released.

Back to the new album. It was composed with no prior rehearsals. The guitars were recorded in Germany and part of the album was composed over the Internet, with everyone exchanging riffs and opinions over FTPs and other such software.
They knew they would have little free time after the tour, as their new management (mentioned many times by Michael Weikath) wanted to take advantage of the momentum that The Legacy gave to the band. But even so, they had to leave a lot of material out of the new album, though they will eventually use everything in the form of B sides, bonuses or whatever even though nothing is planned so far. The tracks featured on the actual album have been chosen because they fitted the whole record, and it's true to me that there's no song that sounded out of place to me while listening to it. This is the result of Charlie's selection, which everyone else including the band and the new management agreed on.
Still about the new album, Sascha told us the title was found on an evening with Andi Deris, during the last tour. Basically, they ended up saying "let's make something with 'gambling'." After all, everything in life is like gambling with the devil, the guitarists explained. Come to think about it: would you do this or that, take that risk or not, etc. Every choice we make is like gambling with the devil somehow.
As for "gambling" with Kai Hansen on the next tour, Weikath basically said there was nothing wrong with Kai despite what the media once implied. They just want the fans to be happy with the music during the tour, just like everyone else wants.

Now, to finish, I'll sum up the answers to the other questions that weren't related to the new album. On why they didn't play anything from the album Better Than Raw during the last tour, they replied that a choice has to be made and basically, their setlists reflect what they want to play. Yet they rarely change setlists during the same tour because you get used to it and it may be very handy to more or less know what you're going to play in advance so you can spare yourself some troubles.
They added that sometimes it may happen that the setlist changes in order to improve it. Also, they may have to ease the job of some other members. For instance, you can't expect Andi Deris to sing all the high singing songs of the Helloween repertoire. A singer sometimes needs to take it easy with his/her voice, especially when canceling shows costs as much as it really costs. That's also a reason to why Andi is not taking part to many conferences like that one. He's got to relax and avoid getting ill.

We also learnt that "How Many Tears", the classic Helloween song from the first album Walls Of Jericho (1985), was first composed for a school band in which Michael Weikath was doing the management work before he started composing. And he composed a piano version of what would end up being the "How Many Tears" we know. This version didn't fit the Helloween sound, so it needed to be pumped up. Also, Weikath said the original lyrics were kinda crappy... he was only 18 or 19 years old at the time.

Finally, we got to hear what bands Sascha and Weiki are currently listening to. Sascha started by saying that they were all open-minded and not evil all the time, and that they listened to various stuff. He, for instance, is liking "The Used", "Tori Amos" and many other artists. Weikath said something about bands from the 70s before he cited "Muse": "Too much noise live but they're great." Earlier, he also used this band to explain that he approves legal downloading of music: cause - still referring to what he said - even though a band like Helloween could maybe survive (illegal downloads), it may not be the case with other young bands, who knows, perhaps a new Queen, etc. Then he said something like "imagine if it happened to Muse?"

In the end, Gambling With The Devil may not be the best Helloween album to date, though it is good power metal. Those who never liked Helloween with Deris will not like it but the others will enjoy it - not as a new masterpiece but as a solid album. Also, it feels like this album can boost the overall performance of the band on stage, and if you saw them touring for The Legacy, you know they're already quite good live.
The album should be available by Halloween (October 29th).



Thanks to Jeff, Roger Wessier and Replica Records


 




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Baz Anderson - 19.09.2007 at 22:25  
oo, that was a good read - but you're being a little negative in the last paragraph!

"Gambling With The Devil may not be the best Helloween album to date"
-well come on.. it might be! you just need to let it grow on you. you can't make judgements like that after one muffled hearing..

"already quite good live"
-hahaha, I would say more than "quite good"

interesting that Michael is still a little bitter towards "The Dark Ride".. I wonder why he fired Roland and Uli like that, because when I was talking with Roland earlier in the year he said they were fired totally out of the blue, they weren't expecting it

I've had a few sneaky listens to a few of the tracks on the album, and the opening song especially (I think it was) sounded so so so heavy and powerful it was quite scary.

anyway.. of course I am looking forward to the album and the show on my birthday!!!
Marcel Hubregtse - 19.09.2007 at 22:45  
What's so negative about the last paragraph? Maybe it seems negative to Helloween fanboys?
With power metal first impressions are usually right. And come on be honest, ntohing they will ever release will ever be able to top their first couple of albums. And if it were a masterpiece it would already have revealed itself even in a listening session.
Baz Anderson - 20.09.2007 at 11:28  
haha, first impressions aren't always right though.. not for me anyway, quite a lot of the time bands have to grow on me before I really like them

they aren't the same band as they were in 1987 and 1988 but the band these days are still more than capable of releasing something noteworthy
Stratowarrior - 20.09.2007 at 19:08  
maybe for you is not the best album from helloween 'til now but lets see how will it be....also very excited 'cos the clock is running, can't wait for the new album, hopefully better than the excellent previous one, and for me the best album is MASTER OF THE RINGS and cheers man very good article.
Bararey - 20.09.2007 at 19:21  
I thought from reading the above that the album received an overall positive response from the listeners, now that's a relief!

Regarding Andi not participating in the conference because he might get "ill", personally I don't buy that

Is the 31 October release date worldwide?
wrathchild - 20.09.2007 at 20:50  
Written by Bararey on 20.09.2007 at 19:21

Is the 31 October release date worldwide?


Oh... We didn't talk about the release date during the conference, so I first wrote the release date as announced in the last news. But in fact, it seems it will be released on October 29th. I can't say whether this is for Europe only or for the rest of the world.

As for Andi's participation to conferences, I think they're not lying. They explained why a song like Perfect Gentleman was not sung during the whole tour: such songs are demanding for the singer and they can't afford to lose their singer (or anyone else) because of that. I remember that they had to cancel many shows a few years ago, because Andi couldn't sing at all.

I didn't intend to sound "negative" (or positive) but I stand by what I said: to me, it is not a masterpiece. If you've read my topic in the "personal blogs" forum, you know what I mean by "masterpiece"
Metal Maiden - 20.09.2007 at 21:01  
I've already listened to it, and let me tell you it's far from the third Keeper...It is a good album, but then, the question "Is good good enough for Helloween" comes...It's not epic like it's predecessor, it's fairly heavy, and it resembles me a bit of The Dark Ride, maybe because of the "dark" feeling most of the songs leave...There are some very good songs, some decent ones, but some fillers also...Heaven Tells No Lies is probably the best shot, followed by songs like Dreambound, Kill It, Final Fortune etc...On the other hand, i can't stand I.M.E and Can Do It...After a couple of listens, the overall impression is that "Gambling with the Devil" is definately very controversial...Maybe the reason why i'm still not sure what to think of it is, as i said, that The Legacy (which is actually my favourite Deris-album) was much better...however, imho it's worth it, especially for fans of Deris, for it is a pleasent release...

Obviously, my thoughts of the album are also very controversial, so let me tell you I'm still buying it when it comes out...An Ltd. is as good as mine...
MrEddieG - 22.09.2007 at 03:17  
I have heard half of this album of the album and so far its a solid 8. All the songs seem to be well composed and it seems almost all songs bring something fresh. So far highlights of the album are "kill It", "Dreambound", and "The Saints". Unfortunately one of less but still good songs has to be "Can do It" just seems that it can get to you just from playing it a few times. All Deris fans will love this album and won't be disappointed at all.
priit - 22.09.2007 at 15:42  
After listening to Gambling with the Devil for the first time, I must agree with MrEddieG - it's a solid 8 so far, but this opinion might improve later Waiting for Ltd version to come on pre-sale here in Estonia already
Raiden - 23.09.2007 at 15:39  
Written by priit on 22.09.2007 at 15:42

After listening to Gambling with the Devil for the first time

But it won't be released for over a month! I can understand press people hearing it, but why is everyone else listening to it?
Marcel Hubregtse - 23.09.2007 at 15:45  
Written by Raiden on 23.09.2007 at 15:39

Written by priit on 22.09.2007 at 15:42

After listening to Gambling with the Devil for the first time

But it won't be released for over a month! I can understand press people hearing it, but why is everyone else listening to it?


Because it probably leaked and THEY all download it ILLEGALLY?
priit - 23.09.2007 at 18:52  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.09.2007 at 15:45

Written by Raiden on 23.09.2007 at 15:39

Written by priit on 22.09.2007 at 15:42

After listening to Gambling with the Devil for the first time

But it won't be released for over a month! I can understand press people hearing it, but why is everyone else listening to it?


Because it probably leaked and THEY all download it ILLEGALLY?


That's right. I downloaded it illegally, but I'll also buy it as soon as it comes to sale.
Marcel Hubregtse - 23.09.2007 at 18:54  
Written by priit on 23.09.2007 at 18:52

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.09.2007 at 15:45

Written by Raiden on 23.09.2007 at 15:39

Written by priit on 22.09.2007 at 15:42

After listening to Gambling with the Devil for the first time

But it won't be released for over a month! I can understand press people hearing it, but why is everyone else listening to it?


Because it probably leaked and THEY all download it ILLEGALLY?


That's right. I downloaded it illegally, but I'll also buy it as soon as it comes to sale.


I am not condemning you. I was just stating the obvious here. So please don't feel as if I am attacking you
Raiden - 24.09.2007 at 14:17  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.09.2007 at 18:54

Written by priit on 23.09.2007 at 18:52

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.09.2007 at 15:45

Written by Raiden on 23.09.2007 at 15:39

Written by priit on 22.09.2007 at 15:42

After listening to Gambling with the Devil for the first time

But it won't be released for over a month! I can understand press people hearing it, but why is everyone else listening to it?


Because it probably leaked and THEY all download it ILLEGALLY?


That's right. I downloaded it illegally, but I'll also buy it as soon as it comes to sale.


I am not condemning you. I was just stating the obvious here. So please don't feel as if I am attacking you


Oh ok then. Hearing it early would be like sneaking a peak at your christmas presents. It would be totally boring once you got it
nb - 26.09.2007 at 21:29  
I don't know about why Weikath mocks at the Dark Ride.
In my personal opinion it is one of the best helloween albums.

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