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Review: Helloween - Chameleon

Label: EMI
Year released: 1993
Duration: 71:26
Tracks: 12
Genre: Unclassifiable


Review online: August 21, 2010
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
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Rated 3.62/5 (72.33%) (73 Votes)

One of the most controversial albums in the history of metal, Helloween's fifth record Chameleon really took a pounding upon its release in 1993, and hasn't garnered some legendary status since. It sucked then, and it sucks now. Or so most will have you believe. Yes, the last album with Michael Kiske at the helm was an odd one indeed, an album that saw the band experimenting beyond all belief with kick horns, country stylings, acoustic pop, and a whole host of sweet-sounding, off-kilter ideas that clashed with the Power Metal creations of their past. But it's not that bad, I assure you...

Taking the more commercial route of Pink Bubbles Go Ape into even more daring territories, Chameleon is essential a pop-rock album that crosses boundaries and genres with reckless disregard, twisting and turning down dead end streets without giving the listener warning. If you've heard the solo work of Kiske from the last few years, you'll know what to expect here, as he had a large part in this album's creation. But despite all its problems, there are a few highpoints. Opener "First Time" is pretty solid (though the lyrics are ghastly), presenting a cool, riff-heavy introduction for an album that flirts with light and shade from the first track. "When The Sinner" is a fey march with added fanfare, and "Crazy Cat" is a rousing but stupid number that will please fans of old. However, the acoustic "I Don't Wanna Cry No More" and the abysmal "Windmill" are travesties not even the most open minded metaller will be able to stand.

On the whole, Chameleon is very reliant on balladry, and these are the two worst offenders. Yet the redeeming qualities might make this worth picking up. In "Giants", the band create an epic Power Metal masterwork, and it's a shame the band don't play it today, as it would work well under their current guise. It is sad, mournful closer "Longing", however, that makes this worth while. From the yearning orchestra to the bleeding acoustic chords, this is best song Kiske ever wrote for the band, and definitely the best track on here. Packed with a bunch of mini-epics that are creative in terms of musicianship, this album is accomplished in that no other band has ever dared to do something so far out of their comfort zone, and the band should be applauded for it. But it still made the band sink. And after the sad suicide of their drummer and the departure of Kiske (and I don't think anyone even cared at this point), it wasn't until the band came back with Master Of The Rings that Helloween once more commanded a real force in the metal scene.

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Review: Keeper of the Seven Keys - Part I (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Master Of The Rings (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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Review: My God-Given Right (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Pink Bubbles Go Ape (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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