Released in October 2017 (Nuclear Blast / Victor Entertainment)
With most record stores having shut down these days and the ones that remain often not competitive price and selection wise, I have become an online music shopper over the last five or six years. So much so that I can easily spend half an hour just browsing for music to purchase on Amazon. Recently and while browsing on the Canadian version of Amazon, I stumbled on a Japanese released Helloween CD titled Pumpkins United selling for just under $22.00. A couple of things crossed my mind at that time. First, the CD must only contain one new track consisting of “Pumpkins United” which features the reunion of Helloween with former key members Michael Kiske on vocals and Kai Hansen on guitar. Second, the CD must be some greatest hits package. Third, I wondered how come that I hadn’t heard about this greatest hits compilation before as I am usually in tune with new releases in my role as Sleaze Roxx editor. Unfortunately, there was no track list for the Pumpkins United CD but that did not deter me and I decided to take the plunge and forked over the $21.98 Can to purchase the CD.
You can imagine my surprise when I received the CD and realized that I had forked over $21.98 Cdn for one song offered in two different versions (a regular version and an orchestral mix version). I wasn’t that pleased but put the CD on for a spin in any case. I was already familiar with the track “Pumpkins United” since I posted an article on Sleaze Roxx featuring the lyric video for the song back in October 2017. At the time, I hadn’t really carefully “listened” to the song aside from noticing that it had the classic Helloween sound. I had also heard the song live when Helloween played in Montreal back in September 2018 and although I enjoyed the track in a live setting, it didn’t measure up at the time to all the great Helloween classics that I heard that evening. As I put the Pumpkins United CD on for a spin, I was surprised by how great the song in question really is. It has all the classic elements of a great Helloween track from the great guitar melodies / solos to the various breaks into the song in some ways reminiscent of the track “Keeper of The Seven Keys” (yet not as long) to the amazing vocals from Kiske and Deris (and perhaps Hansen since his contribution includes vocals as well). I can’t say that I noticed many differences between the regular and orchestral mix versions of the song and do note that both versions each clock in at exactly 6 minutes and 21 seconds in length.
Now, Sleaze Roxx usually does not review singles but I have made an exception here because the “Pumpkins United” track has all of the elements of a classic Helloween track all rolled into one. Obviously, with such a strong song right off the bat from the Helloween reunion with Kiske and Hansen, one can only dream of just how good a full album would be from all those guys. One of the reasons that I am reviewing the Pumpkins United CD is also to point out that certain Helloween band members were willing and able to put aside their egos and petty disagreements from decades past (I am talking mainly of guitarist Michael Weikath and singer Michael Kiske who did not speak to each other for about two decades following the latter’s departure from the band) to give the fans what they really wanted. The success of the Pumpkins United World Tour 2017-18 speaks volumes on how the fans have loved the Helloween reunion with Kiske and Hansen. Both of them had to put their egos aside since Helloween kept the potential band members that would be the most affected by the duo’s reintegration into the group. Kudos have to go out to singer Andi Deris along with guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner who had to share a good chunk of their limelight in the band to make things work with Kiske and Hansen. Helloween‘s “Pumpkins United” single is the wonderful output of an incredible and fascinating story of key past and present band members uniting to give the fans what they likely never thought could be possible.
Imagine if other bands did the same thing. Yes, some Guns N’ Roses band members reunited but with only three of the five classic line-up members. Imagine how cool it would be to have rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Steven Adler back in Guns N’ Roses along with guitarist Gilby Clarke and drummer Matt Sorum, and whichever other band members are playing to complement singer Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan. How about Skid Row? How cool would it be for Sebastian Bach, Johnny Solinger, Tony Harnell and ZP Theart share the lead vocal duties with the rest of the current Skid Row band members backing them up music wise. Not only would the Skid Row mainstays — bassist Rachel Bolan along with guitarists David “Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill — keep their current singer ZP Theart, it would force Bach to check his ego at the door by treating Theart, Harnell and Solinger as “equals.” Of course, Skid Row having four singers or even two or three will never happen since none of the band’s singers after Bach achieved anything close to what the band attained with Bach in the line-up and they would essentially be singing Bach‘s Skid Row songs. It is also worth noting that Harnell never sang on a Skid Row record and Theart has yet to do so. In any case, perhaps Helloween and Michael Schenker are destined to be the only ones to be able to pull off the coup of bringing in key former band members without kicking out current group personnel and providing a truly memorable musical experience to their respective fans.
01. Pumpkins United
02. Pumpkins United – Orchestral Mix
Andi Deris – vocals
Michael Kiske – vocals
Kai Hansen – guitars, vocals
Michael Weikath – guitars
Sascha Gerstner – guitars
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Dani Löble – drums
Peter Crowley – keyboards
Matthias Ulmer – keyboards
Produced and mixed by Charlie Bauerfeind
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, June 2019
Helloween‘s “Pumpkins United” lyric video:
Taken from the Single ‘PUMPKINS UNITED’: http://nblast.de/HelloweenDigital / SUBSCRIBE to NUCLEAR BLAST: http://nblast.de/NBytbSUBSCRIBE to HELLOWEEN: http:/…