When it comes to Helloween I’ve always maintained that all you really need are the two Keeper of the Seven Keys albums. Those, in my opinion, are the template for power metal. I’ve heard some of the albums after those two but once Kai Hansen left the band, he took a good majority of their crazy theatrics and drive with him, and I think, the band suffered because of it. But that wasn’t before they left two fucking perfect albums in their wake. If you’re new to power metal, or Helloween, start with the Keeper albums. They’re fucking flawless.
That being sad, I always meant to go back and listen to the first album, Walls of Jericho. I know it’s not supposed to be as “power metal” as the follow up Keeper albums were, but it often shows up on either best of power metal lists or best of traditional metal lists. Regardless of it’s sound it’s still a landmark album for Germany and power metal so it’s time I give it a listen.
Compared to the Keeper albums, this isn’t power metal BUT compared to speed and NWOBHM, it’s closest styles, I think it’s pretty fucking power metal. It’s mostly a speed metal album I’d wager but come on, it’s pretty over the top. The guitar playing is extremely playful and well, nutty, something I’ve come to associate with Kai’s work over the years, as well as his vocals and lyrics being extremely theatrical and tongue in cheek goofy. Maybe not even so tongue in cheek: “You’re sometimes wondering what the hell bit your baby’s arm and the nuns at the holy mission can’t keep the tramps from harm.” Some lyrics from the song “Reptile” about a mutant reptile. See?
And that’s the whole album, really. Goofy as fuck, but speedy and metal as fuck. I don’t think it’s as refined and bold as the Keeper albums, but it’s definitely the blue print for what would become power metal, and fucking thank Helloween for that.