Archive for September, 2010

Markus Grosskopf Interview for the Bulgarian website Metal Katehizis.
He talks about the writing/recording process, shares some details about each song, and unveils who the other 2 sinners are.

MK: Congratulations to “7 Sinners” – your new album is definitely among the fastest and most aggressive things you’ve ever recorded …

MG: Thank you! Very glad you appreciate it. In my humble opinion this is really the hardest material we’ve created.

Did you deliberately decided to release it right after “Unarmed” – the album with acoustic and jazzy adaptations of your biggest hits?

Well, not quite, because when we did “Unarmed”, we had no idea that the subsequent things will become so atrocious, but when the first songs from “7 Sinners” began to take shape in more detail, both with Weiki (Michael Weikath) said we would get a super cool contrast, if we play the other tracks in the same aggressive style. So it was accidental, but importantly, got cool!

It is noteworthy that the speed and aggression in the album does not harm at you’re your typical melodic lines … How did you find that delicate balance?

In fact the first songs were not as fast, but when Dani (Loeble) added his drums, there was a real madhouse. And for those tracks which he had not played the drums yet, he proposde to add here and there more brutal passages (in “Are You Metal?” even added a few blastbeats) to harden them even more. We listened to him and as you see, the result is stunning. From the time of their composition, passing through the rehearsals and then get to the studio recordings, the new songs became more heavy and heavy, and it goes especially to Dani!
At the same time I want to say and that not only Dani, but all of the group contributed to the high quality of “7 Sinners”. This is one of the most united team and creative works. From first to last song, everything is the result of joint efforts that could not be born without the incredible chemistry that currently prevails within Helloween.
So, first we prepare any ideas yet home. Then we gathered together and began to discuss them. When we discussed and set what must be done, we got to work on assemblies of individual passages and grinding a rough ideas. The whole time since we were rehearsing, up until May, when we went in to record in “Mi Sueno” (Andi’s studio in Tenerife), the songs gradually grew and changed, evolved before our eyes until they turned into this killers who are at the moment!

You sound pretty excited, but for good reason – the new material is really killer. In “7 Sinners” we detect some more modern, non-traditional items for you … I guess the credit for them is Andi, correct?

Absolutely. He is the most open to new stuff, unlike me and Weiki, we are traditionalists … Interestingly, Andi moisture not only sound and modern approaches in his compositions, but also modern ideas, modern worldview … ugh I do not know how to express it … something that fulfills the song inside.
And not just him. Here to pick and Sascha for example – he also thinks highly original, fresh ideas moisture in his tracks and helps us to diverse our sound … Especially when the album managed to combine the best of all these – a traditional, typical Helloween style meets modern thinking of Andi, the various ideas of Sascha, and to top it all, Dani plays like a monster machine and weld it all in a brutal steel fist.

Awesome said! I’ll take you to quote for your review, ha-ha! Incidentally, what are these “7 sinners? I can think of five of them, but the rest …

What are the five you think?

You, Weiki, Andi, Sascha и Dani.

Right! You deserve to say what are the other two, because most people will understand it only when the album appears officially on the market. The sixth sinner is The Keeper – a very old, old sinner, who is with us almost from the beggining, but the seventh one is the Pumpkin.

The Pumpkin? Willie?

Yes, exactly. Willie himself. A great sinner, if you ask me, ha-ha-ha! Being older than even the Keeper …

And so then … Because there were various rumors and hopes of the fans that Kai Hansen and Roland Grapow play as guest musicians on the CD, but apparently were just rumors …

Oh no, we are not even hinted at such a thing!

May have been dictated by your joint performance with Kai Hansen of your last tour …

Sorry if I have to disappoint someone, but no, none of them did participate in the album.

Well, to change the subject. Tell me more about the cover – very dark and sinister look …

Oh yeah, and I really like it. It is generally not something anyone know what it means, it does not stand behind a deeper idea, but its terribly impressive. You know I always loved to play with the number 7 – partly because it is the opposite of 6 … 6 … 6 ha-ha! Yet it seems weird, yet it fits perfectly with the spirit and the message of the album.

Little reminds me of the artwork and atmosphere of “The Dark Ride” … There we have a go-round (in the title track), but here – rotating blades …

Yes, there is one thing I had not thought … definitely the new cover is pretty grim, does not have anything to do with that “Happy Happy Helloween” worldview and mood …

And why did you went in this direction? From “Rabbit Don’t Come Easy” which was dominated by cheerful and positive notes, and even “Gambling With The Devil” was pretty carnival …

Frankly, no particular reason. So we get and said: “Why not add a little variety?” Therefore, all songs have become evil, surly, snappy sounding …

Another dark album in your discography is undoubtedly “The Dark Ride”. How would you compare it with the new?

Hmm, interesting question. I think “7 Sinners” is much more helloweeenish album, meaning full of traditional things for us, and though dark and sinister, it is dark and sinister in our typical, helloweenish way. While “The Dark Ride” was largely created under the pressure of producers and external groups. The new record is more organic and holistic, and despite its solid sound, you can not go wrong – it’s one hundred percent Helloween!

But not a concept, huh?

No, it’s not some common thematic threads that bind most compositions, but generally not a conceptual work.

Well, would you be so kind and tell a few words about each of the songs?

“Where The Sinners Go” – one of my favorite, very strong opening composition, full of power. There is something extremely powerful, with stadium fell there, and I want to play it live because there will be a terrible effect on the audience.
“Are You Metal?” – Something like a confession of Andi in the spirit of the entire album. The message is to remember the past, when we grew up with our favorite music and then we started to play. Heartfelt confession of true love for real music.
“Who is Mr. Madman?” – Very much like this piece because as music and text it refers to the story of the “Perfect Gentleman”. It’s about him – where he is now, what does he do and so on. So we included in it and the melody of “Perfect Gentleman” … Very addictive song!
“Raise The Noise” – a traditional song, written by Mr. Weikath. It is so easy to tell that it is composed by him. And I like it as hell.
“World Of Fantasy” – I wrote it, focusing firmly on the melody and a lighter sound, and when suggested it to the boys, I had no idea if it will fit the album. However, they liked it pretty much and then put it in fifth place, because it would give a breath of air to the listener after the initial shake, ha ha. Something like light at the end of the tunnel … Or, more precisely in the middle of it, ha-ha-ha!
“Long Live The King” – a great composition that Andi devote their heroes Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio, to show where he came from and that still remembers his heroes. Homage to the biggest.
“The Smile Of The Sun” – an extremely interesting piece. Some define it as a ballad, though not quite a ballad. At the same time its title is “The Smile of the Sun, but no smile and no sun in it, it has dark mood as the rest of the disc. Many like it because of its unique atmosphere and great arrangement. This is the key to the basic idea of the album.
“You Stupid Mankind” – amazing song, the brainchild of Mr. Gerstner. He had some crazy ideas that were developed in an even more crazy way, and the song perfectly matched the amazing new material.
“If A Mountain Could Talk” – my song. Born in my head exactly with this verse – “If mountains could talk – and then it turned into its title. I wondered what we do with nature, without thinking how irresponsible we treat the earth and how would react the mountains and oceans to our irrational behavior. Thus a simple rhyme grew over seven-minute composition in the typical Helloween style, with many different moments and plenty of variety, corresponding to each other parts.
“The Sage, The Fool, The Sinner” – a typical example of how Weiki writes songs. He has always liked loud deployed compelling choruses with a strong vocal lines, and centered around other parts of the song. A true classic!
“My Sacrifice” – another great composition by Sascha. Original reading of the traditional things for us, but served in such a way as to fit into the whole concept of “7 Sinners”.
“Not Yet Today” – a minute intro that Andi created to introduce the audience even more in the final piece.
“Far In The Future” – very interesting, I’d say even experimental song, again by Andi, which shows how to combine classic Helloween-elements with far more modern and funky stuff, without losing the identity of the group.

Thank you very much! I notice that after “Rabbit Don’t Come Easy” you seemed to unleash something and now you write far more material than the earlier years of the band …

Yes, there is something true. During the 80’s most of my tracks were within the B-sides of singles, but lately I’ve obviously got better ha-ha! Have I become more exacting to myself – I do not know, maybe, but unlike before, now I save any idea that hit me. You never know where the rabbit will come from, ha-ha!

Do you have a favorite album of Helloween?

Not just one. I love both Keeper-a, “Walls Of Jericho” and “Master Of The Rings” – with it we found again ourselves in a rather difficult time for the band.

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Helloween are known as the inventors of ‘German Melodic-Speed-Metal’ and are creative pioneers and one of the most successful Metal bands in personal union since their beginnings in 1984. If there is a golden thread throughout more than 25 years of band history, 13 studio albums, countless headliner tours around the globe and far more than 5 million sold records, then it’s the special kind of humor: don’t take yourself too seriously and simply live statements like: “just have fun with the shit you’re doing.” Maybe it’s exactly this easiness, that allows Helloween to be one of the most constant bands of the genre, and yet the one that at the same time dares to experiment more than others and has defined Metal in advanced and modern ways for decades. While some copycats rather stick with the same old patterns, Andi Deris, Michael Weikath, Sascha Gerstner, Markus Großkopf and Dani Löble aren’t afraid of risking something – and are rightfully rewarded with success.

“7 Sinners” proves all that once again. It’s definitely one of the fastest and hardest albums in the band’s history, bursts with vitality, presents sensational novelties – and still is a record in best Helloween tradition. That might partly be due to the versatility of the various songwriters within the band, who over time have become so homogenous, that the 13 songs have formed a unity on their own in the studio – but there also is a very concrete explanation. The album was recorded completely without a click track, which, considering the extreme speed of the songs, borders on ‘high-performance music’. Especially drummer Löble showcases that his technique is at world-class-level. Following his excellent inner clock, bass and drums drive tracks like “Are You Metal?”, “Long Live The King” or “Who Is Mr. Madman?” to dizzying tempos and still neither sound strained nor sterile. Bands who dare such a technique, have been situated in slower realms to date.

“Who Is Mr. Madman?”, whose intro is again congenially spoken by Saxon’s Biff Byford, is interesting for another reason as well. The composition by guitarist Gerstner is effectively the successor of ’94s “Perfect Gentleman” and lets the protagonist look back on his life full of lust and what is left of it 15 years later. The so-called mortal sins, among which lust is one, are the overall concept of the album. “7 Sinners” plays light-heartedly with the heavy symbolism of the seven main vices. The artwork, once again stylishly designed by Martin Häusler, mirrors the motive just as masterfully. This is also a specialty of Helloween: touching dark themes and turning them into something constructive, owed to their positive attitude. And this quite deliberately. Not audible for the normal ear, yet another important aspect of “7 Sinners” is the instrument’s tuning to chamber pitch 432, instead of 440. Although musicology agreed on 440 Hz in the 50ies, it’s been found today, that 432 Hz is the more natural frequency for the human ear and therefore radiates a relaxing effect. It was the band’s idea, to record this extremely hard album in a calm frequency and in such a way oppose balancing vibes subconsciously to the supposed agitation of Speed-Metal. Definitely a unique approach, at least in this genre.

The atmosphere was equally as relaxed beneath the palm tree roof of the “Mi Sueno Studios”, where the recordings took place from April to August 2010. Charlie Bauerfeind, the long time producer, describes the sessions to “7 Sinners” as maybe one of the most casual productions with the band. Disregarding climatically difficult circumstances – a power cut destroyed one mixer, two computer modules and at least three microphones – the recordings had holiday flair. Additional contributions came from a second sound engineer who relieved the production side, as well as from keyboarder Matthias Ullmer, who – like on the two previous albums – has in the meantime nearly become a band member during recordings. This explains why more keyboards than ever can be heard on “7 Sinners”, adding another facet to the record. The fact that Ullmer doesn’t have long hair and isn’t a die-hard Metal head meanwhile is of no significance to the quintet. Helloween just don’t think in these categories.

It was agreed, that “7 Sinners” shouldn’t only be sounding lively, but also emanating a live feel was crucial to the selection and arrangement of the songs. And the anticipation of performing stadium smashers live, like “Raise The Noise”, “Where The Sinners Go“ and “Are You Metal?”, is clearly audible on the album. Complexity doesn’t have to contradict this disposition, neither in regards to lyrics nor music. “You Stupid Mankind” is the best example for the fact that social criticism can be presented in a multi-layered and modern way. Andi Deris puts it like this: “I love Metal. I listen to a lot of music, new stuff too. Why shouldn’t I develop my songwriting with sounds, that I have just fallen in love with?” This way a quiet song has found its place between the tough Speed-Metal tracks like “Long Live The King” and the in the best sense typical Helloween songs like “If A Mountain Could Talk”. “Not Yet Today”, the intro to the last song of the album, describes a time when Andi cared for a friend lying in coma and had to confront the topic of letting go. Fortunately, everything turned out to be all right – but the feeling of “corresponding with another world” as a “silent witness” lingers on.

“7 Sinners” with its typically strong melodies and the tangible joy of playing, is a straight album whose range reaches astonishing dimensions, even for Helloween: the experienced five manage to develop further and break limits once again, without selling their ‘Speed-Metal soul’. Not only the front man looks forward to the “7 Sinners Tour”, which starts in November and will take the band all over the world one more time until the end of 2011. The singer casually puts the band’s vibe in a nutshell:

“We are still fans.”

From End Records

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The 7 Sinners

If there is a golden thread throughout the more than 25 years of Helloween‘s history, 13 studio albums, countless headliner tours around the globe and more than 5 million records sold, then it is their special kind of attitude: don’t take yourself too seriously and simply live statements like “just have fun with the shit you’re doing.” Maybe it is exactly this easiness that allows Helloween to be one of the most constant bands of the genre while simultaneously being the one band who dares to experiment more than their musical peers.
The Band
While some copycats would rather stick with the same old patterns, Andi Deris, Michael Weikath, Sascha Gerstner, Markus Großkopf and Dani Löble aren’t afraid of taking risks — and are rightfully rewarded with success.

“7 Sinners” is definitively one of the fastest and hardest albums in the Helloween‘s history and it bursts with vitality. That might partly be due to the versatility of the various songwriters within the band, who over time have become so homogenous, that the 13 songs formed a unity on their own in the studio , but it may also be due to the fact that the album was recorded completely without a click track, which, considering the extreme speed of the songs is an impressive feat. Especially drummer Löble, who proves that his technique is at a world-class-level. Following his excellent inner clock, bass and drums drive tracks like “Are You Metal?”, “Long Live The King” and “Who Is Mr. Madman?” to dizzying tempos. “7 Sinners”, with its typically strong melodies and the tangible joy of playing, is a true metal album whose range reaches astonishing dimensions.

It has become a cliche for metal band’s to tout their newest opus as their “fastest” or “heaviest” album ever made, but in Helloweens case, “7 Sinners” is truly a return to form and is indeed their fastest and heaviest release in years. Helloween bass player Markus Grosskopf stated about the band’s new material: “For all those out there who found our special best-of [CD] ‘Unarmed’ to be too smooth and calm, I have great news: The new album will hit you right in the face! It’s gonna be very heavy and contain all [the classic] HELLOWEEN trademarks! Some songs are very powerful and hymnic, others contain the fastest bass-drum patterns our drummer Dani ever played, and this means a lot!”

“7 Sinners” track listing:

01. Where The Sinners Go (Andi Deris)
02. Are You Metal? (Andi Deris)
03. Who is Mr. Madman? (Sascha Gerstner)
04. Raise The Noise (Michael Weikath)
05. World Of Fantasy (Markus Grosskopf)
06. Long Live The King (Andi Deris)
07. The Smile Of The Sun (Andi Deris)
08. You Stupid Mankind (Sascha Gerstner)
09. If A Mountain Could Talk (Markus Grosskopf)
10. The Sage, The Fool, The Sinner (Michael Weikath)
11. My Sacrifice (Sascha Gerstner)
12. Not Yet Today (Andi Deris)
13. Far In The Future (Andi Deris)

Samples are in here

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7 SINNERS Front Cover

7 Sinners Front Cover

Helloween - 7 Sinners

From today on the front cover of the new HELLOWEEN album “7 SINNERS” is unveiled! End of October, just on time for Halloween, the long-awaited album “7 SINNERS” will be released. It is the 13th studio album of the German heavy-metal legend HELLOWEEN. Certainly not coincidental the new record is in equal shares the fastest, hardest and most melodic piece of work in the bands history.

The line-up around singer Andi Deris, guitarist Sascha Gerstner, drummer Dani Löble, as well as the two founding members, guitarist Michael Weikath and bassist Markus Grosskopf, is more than intact and the countless tours and festivals boosted the bands self-confidence, which clearly becomes apparent in the new songs.

7 SINNERS will be released in four different formats: – CD Jewel-Case, CD Premium in high-class Digipak incl. bonustrack and extended booklet, Vinyl, as well as Digital Download. About a month after the release of “7 SINNERS” the band will be on the road to tour the world again.

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