HELLOWEEN – Chameleon (Expanded Edition)


Sanctuary Records
Release Date: April 25, 2006

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

Welcome to part five of a series of eight total reviews that Metal Express Radio plans to post 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 five of this “mini-series” focuses on the Expanded Edition of Chameleon. Just like the other USA re-releases in this series, the packaging is a glossy, heavy-duty cardboard sleeve that engulfs the plastic jewel case. The front and back of the sleeve contains artwork from the original LP sleeve. The back of the sleeve also contains the track listing, including the bonus tracks.

Helloween fans had thought they had seen the band at their worst with the release of 1991’s Pink Bubbles Go Ape. Woefully, fans didn’t realize at the time that the worst had yet to come. The follow-up to Pink Bubbles Go Ape, Chameleon, ended up having an even more perverse negative effect on the Helloween fan base than anyone could have imagined after its release. This 1993 release, even today, is considered to be the bottom rung of the ladder in the entire Helloween discography.

Chameleon would be the last of the band’s albums to include vocalist Michael Kiske and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg (who would tragically commit suicide). This spiral downfall started (with Pink Bubbles Go Ape) when pressure was exerted on the band by their management advisors to pursue the “more jovial and fun elements” of Helloween’s persona. Little did anyone know that Helloween would take it as far as they did with Chameleon. Who would have thought a Helloween album would include a plethora of experimentation, including keyboards, orchestras, a horn section, and megaphones all in a Progressive Rock wrapper? It’s not that the music was completely terrible, even today it’s a commendable platter of Progressive, perhaps Hard, Rock … its just that it didn’t include the elements of Power Metal, Speed Metal, Melodic Thrash Metal, etc. that Helloween fans clamor for and had loved wholeheartedly on earlier Helloween releases. Simply put, the band didn’t deliver what the fans wanted. Chameleon was more Progressive/Hard Rock than Power/Speed Metal … more Queensrÿche than Helloween. Perhaps Kiske’s well-known modern day disdain for Heavy Metal music started to bubble to the surface during this album’s recording?

This particular re-release edition is contained within two CDs that includes no less than eight bonus tracks, one being a previously unreleased demo version of “Windmill.” It’s quite surprising that such an ill-received release produced (or tried to produce) four singles in the form of “When The Sinner,” “Windmill,” “Step Out Of Hell,” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry No More.” A few of the bonus tracks almost make up for some of the lackluster “original LP” material. Case in point, “I Don’t Care You Don’t Care” is a nice Hard Rock track with some impressive Ritchie Abdel Nabi drumming. The instrumental “Oriental Journey,” while not breakneck speed or a classic by any means, is still an entertaining melodic jaunt.

Once again, highest marks for the liner notes. This one provides a 12-page booklet that includes the original LP cover on the front page and a reprint of the vinyl album’s original jacket sleeve. Like the previous Expanded Editions, this one contains another interview with guitarist Weikath that offers some very interesting insights about the band during this troublesome time frame. Missing are reprints of any original album reviews (understandable, given the lackluster support for the original release), reprinted lyrics for all tracks, credits for each set of tracks, and the original LP version’s back cover reprinted on this booklet’s back cover.

Bottom line, this release is considered to be the band’s worst by Helloween fans everywhere, and this Expanded Edition can’t provide anything to circumvent those feelings even in the modern day. This Expanded Edition does provide almost a full second CD’s worth of material and some interesting reading and insights about the demise of “Mach II” of the band’s line-up during this “low point.” In the end, this Expanded Edition should be coveted by Progressive Rock enthusiasts, the inquisitive fan and die-hard “complete-ist” Helloween fans who are compelled to own the “complete catalog.”


Michael Kiske – Vocals
Roland Grapow – Guitar
Michael Weikath – Guitar
Markus Grosskopf – Bass
Ingo Schwichtenberg – Drums
Ritchie Abdel Nabi – Drums On “Bonus Tracks”


  • 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.

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