by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Helloween - Rabbit Don't Come Easy
(Nuclear Blast)

Germany's favourite steak 'n' steiners return, after the now derided Dark Ride album, to their celebrated buoyant fast sound as well, unfortunately, to the days of disastrous album titles. There's much to digest here, Helloween revolving - sometimes with inspiration, sometimes aimlessly - around a power metal Axis Of Evil Pumpkin they alone created. It can be said that much of the album is still ponderous, and even a little dark, with bad turns of phrase also occurring with Don't Stop Being Crazy, Never Be A Star and Hell Was Made In Heaven. But for the most part, the band succeed in positioning themselves above the massive spawn they caused, simply by taking chances, coupled with the deft move of keeping things organic, separated, human, messy, a bit flawed. Thunderheaded drummer Mikkey Dee was brought in as temporary replacement for the ailing Mark Cross, and his contribution helps the general exuberance as well. I dunno... the 'Weenies are taking a fair bit of flak for this album, but there are just so many dimensions to the thing, you emerge from the sausage grinder at the other end, satisfied, a sprinkle of favourites tugging you along into the rest of the substantial album.
Rating 8

Khymera - Khymera

If you want to hear the idiosyncratic, styled and stylish, enigmatic, somewhat strange pipes of Steve Walsh out in front of a glossy, keyboard-pinged power metal-zapped AOR album, you've come to the right place. Walsh's (long distance, no doubt) partner in crime is Genius rock opera guy Daniele Liverani, the unlikely duo backed by both a Kansas and a Streets guy, Streets being the vastly under-rated hard AOR project of Walsh's in the '80s. And it gets weirder: the songs are all hair-and-power-powered takes on songs written by guys who do that sort of thing on the world stage (Russ Ballard, Giorgio Moroder, Jim Peterik, David Foster, Neal Schon) and by guys who do that sort of thing o'er at the club down the street from the world stage (get the album to get the names). Ultimately the album coheres, given Liverani's hard, cold Royal Hunt production, but I ain't really visiting for any more reason than to hear Walsh.
Rating 6.5

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