HELLOWEEN – Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I [Expanded Edition]

HELLOWEEN - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I [Expanded Edition]


Sanctuary Records
Release date: January 30, 2006

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

Welcome to part two of a series of eight total reviews by Metal Express Radio, covering each of the newly released Helloween “Expand Edition” CDs. For the unknowing, the first eight full-length releases by Helloween have been re-released as remastered, expanded edition CDs by Sanctuary Records. Each edition includes several bonus tracks consisting of B-Sides, remixes, and live renditions.

Part two of this “mini-series” delves into the Expanded Edition of Keeper Of the Seven Keys Part I. The re-release of this album has not yet been issued in the USA (yet), however, Metal Express Radio felt it was important to review the series as a whole in chronological order, even though some readers may have to go to extra efforts to purchase this CD. To be aware, one minor difference between the International and the USA editions is in the packaging. The glossy, heavy-duty cardboard sleeve that accompanies the plastic CD case with the USA versions had replaced the glossy, heavy-duty cardboard quad-fold-out case that is included with the International version. Nevertheless, the front and back of this case still contain artwork from the original vinyl LP sleeve. The back also contains the track listing, including the bonus tracks.

Helloween’s debut full-length album, Walls Of Jericho, was adorned with unanimous support from the fans and media, and very well justified. So, why after such a successful debut would a band change an obvious recipe for success? Nevertheless, two years after releasing Walls Of Jericho, the band did the unthinkable … they relegate vocalist/guitarist Kai Hansen from the frontline to a Lead Guitar role with Backing Vocals. They then bring in a new lead vocalist in Michael Kiske, and release Keeper Of the Seven Keys Part I. At the time, fans had unjustly crucified and scoffed at this move, never realizing that they would later declare this release a “classic.” The band upped the production values on this release by bringing in not one, but two producers in Victory guitarist Tommy Newton and Tommy Hansen (Pretty Maids fame). In the process, the band possibly traded a tinge of Speed, for not only a hint of commercialism (e.g., “A Little Time”), but also undoubtedly a more menacing guitar sound and a glint of epic songwriting … it just took fans a while to come to this realization. Of course, no one told drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg about these changes, as his feet are still double-pumping at the speed of light throughout this release. How can any fan deny the accessibility of “I’m Alive,” “Future World” (with it’s mechanical noises and cool Kiske scream), and the wondrous gem entitled “Halloween” with its multiple twin-guitar instrumental breaks? How about an 18-year old Kiske’s outstanding, Operatic-like vocal performance that could stand toe-to-toe with a certain Seattle-based vocalist (whose band released their own debut LP in 1983)? The re-mastering on this version is just a bonus to this already classic release and keeps it sounding as fresh today as it did in 1987.

This particular re-release is a double CD edition. CD one includes a remastered version of the original full-length Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I, albeit no bonuses here. Disc two, on the other hand, includes a Kiske version of “Victim of Fire” (from the Dr. Stein EP) and a Kiske version of “Starlight” from the 2002 Treasure Chest release, both welcome additions. Also included is an alternative version of “A Little Time” (b-side from the “Future World” single) and a shorter, video edit version of “Halloween” taken from Pumpkin Box. Both are probably only of value to the avid Helloween fan. All remastered tracks sound clean and show no signs of aging!

Similar to Walls Of Jericho‘s re-release, the highest marks are earned for the liner notes. This one is also a 12-page booklet that includes: the original LP cover on the front page, a reprint of the vinyl album’s original jacket sleeve, a short Helloween biography up to and including this CD’s release, another interview with guitarist Weikath that offers insights into the band’s history during this era, several original album reviews reprinted (e.g., from Kerrang! magazine), reprinted lyrics for all tracks, credits for each set of tracks, and the original LP version’s back cover reprinted on the booklet’s back cover! Tiny font aside, it’s a wonderful booklet. Also included is a separate, fold-out family tree of the band and its members … a nice touch.

Bottom line, not as much value for your Euros, Dollars, etc. here, compared to the Walls Of Jericho: Expanded Edition, but that still doesn’t diminish the pleasure of listening to this one again. With only four bonus tracks, this edition might only appeal to avid Helloween fans. It should still be considered a “must buy,” however, for Helloween newcomers or the uninitiated.


Michael Kiske – Vocals
Kai Hansen – Guitar
Michael Weikath – Guitar
Markus Grobkopf – Bass
Ingo Schwichtenberg – Drums


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.