If there is one sure fire why to win my heart it is with a long fantasy adventure rock ballad, which is exactly what “Keeper of the Seven Keys” is, a thirteen minute musical epic. The song’s opening jumps right into the fantasy theme and never deviates far.
“Put on your armour
Ragged after fights
Hold up your sword
You're leaving the light.
Make yourself ready
For the lords of the Dark
They'll watch your way
So be cautious, quiet and hark”
There are so many lyrics in this song, it’s practically a book, and they hit so many fantasy references, “will o’ the wisps, “dwarves of darkness,” “guided by spells,” and “the seas of hatred and sin,” all silly stuff but also awesome. The second time I listened to “Keeper of the Seven Keys” I was listening to the lyrics casually and I thought I heard, “kill that Satan who won’t let us be” and I thought “wait a minute is this song about killing the devil?” The answer was yes, big time yes, “Keeper of the Seven Keys” is one hundred percent about fighting and killing the devil. Typically in fantasy epics the big bad guy is some sort of lord of darkness and rarely something as culturally significant as Satan, but in incorporating the devil the song reaches an additional level of dramatic.
“Keeper of the Seven Keys” relates to the song “Halloween” in a few ways. First “Keeper of the Seven Keys” is the title track to Helloween’s second and third album “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 & 2” so in a way all the tracks on both albums lead to the swan song that is “Keeper of the Seven Keys,” even though “Save Us” is technically the last tack. “Halloween” was the focus point of part one and “Keeper of the Seven Keys” was the focus point of part two, however the over arching theme of the two albums is a little disjointed, there are songs that fall into the Halloween theme really nicely like “Dr. Stein” an obvious Frankenstein homage, but a majority of the songs stand alone and do not fit into any story being revealed to us in either of these two big epic tracks. “Halloween” flows into “Keeper of the Seven Keys” through the presence of the devil in both songs, the devil is haunting Halloween in the first song and is a full blown antagonist in the second.
But the story of fighting the devil in a fantasy world is not the only narrative going on between these two songs, the story of Helloween is unfolding before us as well. I think I was right to call Kai Hansen the leader of Helloween as I did in the last review, he was a primary song writer, lead guitarist, and lead singer on the first album, but there is a great change occurring on the second installment on the Keeper’s saga. Rhythm and lead guitarist Michael Weikath takes over the song writing department on part two of the Keeper of the Seven Keys, having written five of the ten tracks on the album and three of the four hit tracks including “Keeper of the Seven Keys.” Interestingly the only hit song on the second album written by Hansen is “I Want Out” which is a song that clearly hints at how Hansen wants out of the band. No one is really sure why Kai Hansen was so unhappy in Helloween, the band he had help create, but he was upset enough to write a song about it so he must have been something serious. Seems a shame that Hansen felt that way and everyone in Helloween seemed surprised by the development and departure of Hansen after their third album. Hansen was only around for a short time in the most memorable band he would ever be a part of, he came and conquered, he was part of the two best Helloween albums, which were in turn two of the best rock/metal albums ever to come out of Germany.
When we look from “Halloween” to “Keeper of the Seven Keys” we see a transition in Helloween. “Halloween” is a song written by Kai Hansen with new lead singer Michael Kiske capturing all the raw intentions and emotions of the young band. “Keeper of the Seven Keys” takes the band into a fantastic new direction of fantasy and adventure and is written by Michael Weikath the ongoing creative leader of the band hereafter, Weikath along with bassist Markus Grosskopf are the only two members of the band to be with Hellowen since the beginning to the current day. The Keeper’s sage was a two piece set and important changes occurred within Helloween between the first and second installments; these albums are valuable records in the ongoing history of classic rock.
The story does not end there though; there is a third part to this trilogy.
- Colin Kelly