Archive for December, 2010

Sascha Gertner is featured in a new interview with Metal Gods TV, conducted at the Hard Rock Hell IV Festival in Prestatyn, North Wales on the weekend of December 3rd – 5th.

Helloween recently issued the following update:

“Thanks, Europe: the first part of the world tour was simply sensational.

After the amazing kick-off in Vienna, gigs in London (UK), Eindhoven (NL) and Oslo (NO), sold out shows in Zlin (CZ), Tallinn (EST), Tampere (FIN) and Helsinki (FIN), the expectations were even exceeded by the 2010 tour finale in Prague.

Last Sunday, more than 4,500 Czech fans partied without mercy and went sheer berserk in front of the stage!

Prague definitely is Metal – let’s see if this can be topped in 2011… At any rate, overjoyed Helloween are going on their short break, just to challenge the French sinners on January 11th at the sold out Elysee Montmartre in Paris. Part 2 of the European tour can begin!

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On January 11th, Sanctuary Records/Universal Music in Canada is releasing the Deluxe Edition of Helloween‘s legendary Keeper Of The Seven Keys Parts 1 & 2. The album was released in October in the UK. With the arrival of the Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I album in 1987, Helloween was catapulted to the forefront of the hard metal scene. The following year’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II reinforced Helloween’s Metal credentials and set the band up for a career that is now within its 27th year. Both Keepers albums are massively influential throughout the heavy metal world and remain among the greatest albums of their era.


CD 1
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I

1. Initiation
2. I’m Alive
3. A Little Time
4. Twilight of the Gods
5. A Tale That Wasn’t Right
6. Future World
7. Halloween
8. Follow the Sign

Bonus Tracks:

9. Victim of Fate (Single B-Side)
10. Starlight (Remix)
11. A Little Time (Alternative Version)
12. Halloween (Video Edit)
13. Savage (Single B-Side)
14. Livin’ Ain’t No Crime (Single B-Side)

CD 2
Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II

1. Invitation
2. Eagle Fly Free
3. You Always Walk Alone
4. Rise and Fall
5. Dr. Stein
6. We Got the Right
7. March of Time
8. I Want Out
9. Keeper of the Seven Keys
10. Save Us

Bonus Tracks:

11. Don’t Run For Cover (Single B-Side)
12. Dr. Stein (Remix)
13. Keeper of the Seven Keys (Remix)


Release Date: January 11th, 2011

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Helloween’s promotional call-to-arms in their native Germany for their new album, 7 Sinners, was as loud as it gets. In the weeks leading up to the official release, full size billboards appeared on city streets across the country screaming the question “Are You Metal?” Impossible to ignore, the campaign made it clear the band was back in form following their off-kilter 25th Anniversary album, Unarmed, defusing the moronic rumour that Helloween was moving in a tame and distinctly non-metal direction. Guitarist Sascha Gerstner – pushing a decade with the band – shakes his head remembering the number of people that expressed concern over Unarmed’s light-hearted acoustic / lounge music revamp of Helloween’s catalogue. “Bullshit,” he says of the worried reactions, and with good reason.

“It was clear from the beginning that we wanted to do something different,” says Gerstner. “Everybody that’s doing 10 or 20 or 25 year anniversary albums is using orchestras or going all acoustic and stuff like that. Helloween has been known for doing something different from everyone else since forever. We wanted to do something special, and we had to explain in every interview that, for the diehard Helloween fan, Unarmed is a fun album to listen to. It was a musician thing for us, and I don’t know of any other band that has something like it. We knew it would be like that, but we didn’t think some people would get it so wrong that they thought that was our new direction. It’s like, come on! You’re not serious! It was something fun for us. Just because three shitheads didn’t understand the concept, I don’t think we really need to explain ourselves. That album is art, and if you’re an artist you never know how people are going to react.”

“We had a long break since the last tour – we hadn’t been on stage in over two years – and doing the 25th Anniversary album as we did, it was only natural that we wanted to crank up the amps and play loud again. If you listen to Gambling With The Devil, the album we released before Unarmed (in 2007), you can tell 7 Sinners is the direction we were going in anyway.”

The “Are You Metal?” campaign was spawned by the name of the first single from 7 Sinners. The album as a whole showcases Helloween as a full-on slavering beast. Some folks will spout the perpetual complaint that it isn’t Keeper Of The Seven Keys or Walls Of Jericho, but that’s empty air at this stage of the game. The band focused on the here and now, currently riding a well-earned internal high.

“We’ve got a great line-up which is very stable,” Gerstner says, “which isn’t normal for a band like ours (laughs). In fact, Michael (Weikath / guitars) was saying the other day that the line-up we have now is the longest lasting one in Helloween’s history. That’s amazing.”

A line-up that works well in spite of the fact – at least on paper – the band members wrote the songs for 7 Sinners separately. Nothing new in the Helloween camp, but still surprising that it works.

“It’s a lot of fun, actually,” Gerstner reveals, “because everybody is sitting at home working on stuff and we use the internet to communicate and talk about the material. We’re a pretty modern band (laughs). We all have home studios so we just record stuff, then send it out to each other, and wait for someone to say ‘This is bullshit, man (laughs).’ In the end we get together in the studio, of course, and that’s when things become really energetic.”

Vocalist Andi Deris is particularly prolific, which has been the case since he replaced Michael Kiske in 1994. Fans that remember his melodic metal past with Pink Cream 69 continue to be surprised by the amount of heavy material he has contributed to Helloween’s catalogue over the years. The new album is no different; ‘Are You Metal?’, for example, is a Deris gem at its foundation.

“We’ve all evolved as musicians and songwriters,” Gerstner says of the notion Deris is a melodic softie. “In Andi’s case, he has a son who is 19 years old now, and he listens to crazy heavy shit every day (laughs), so that probably influenced Andi a lot. I mean, look at Jon Bon Jovi; he’s not writing stuff now that sounds like it did 20 years ago. People change and get new influences, especially if you see yourself as an artist. The problem in the music scene, especially in metal, is that a lot of people start out just because they want to look cool. I call them fan bands. That’s not what art is about, and that’s not why I started playing guitar. I just wanted to express myself by writing songs. I started out playing mainstream rock like Bad English and Toto, and look what I’m doing now. Every musician evolves in some way.”

Gerstner is no exception to the rule, having spent the last eight years working alongside six-string mainstay Michael Weikath. He fits the classic Helloween guitarist profile, far and away from his power metal days with Freedom Call.

“You always learn something new, especially when it’s from someone who’s been in this business for over 25 years,” he says, reflecting on his relationship with Weikath. “In the first couple years Michael influenced me a lot in the way I think about the music scene, but we’re not really that much different from one another. That’s why I’m in Helloween. I didn’t go to a rehearsal room with my guitar to perform for them, it was just me and Michael hanging out for a couple weeks doing bullshit (laughs). We didn’t play guitar once in that time, we just hung out and got along great.”

The new album is a far cry from his Helloween debut in 2003, Rabbit Don’t Come Easy, which was slammed for being less than worthy of praise. Going back to his feelings on artistic evolution, Gerstner addresses his own performance on the album and how he has developed since then.

“That’s an interesting question. I don’t normally listen to the records we’ve made, but I was listening to Rabbit Don’t Come Easy a couple weeks ago and realized that it’s actually a really good album. Everything was new to me back then so I had no idea what was going on. Everybody had some songs but Helloween wasn’t even a real band at that point. We’d never been on tour together, I didn’t really know the guys except for Michael, and I didn’t know anything about the history of the band. So, back then it wasn’t the best album. Listening to it now, though, I think it’s very good. There are some really good songs on there. Rabbit Don’t Come Easy is a pretty brave album. At the time it’s a wonder this band even did a record.”

According to Gerstner, 7 Sinners has been received extremely well by fans and press alike. Something of a first from his point of view.

“Actually, I’m blown away by the reactions because, since I joined Helloween, there have always been some journalists being picky and fussy about a new album. It’s really new to me seeing 100% positive reviews from everybody including those people. We used different recording techniques, different tunings, so it has something. It’s a very energetic album, as I said, and I think people are impressed by that.”

By Carl Begai of Bravewords.com

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