I've not done a review in a while, but now Christmas is finished, I can hopefully find time to resume. Anyways, it's impossible to listen to much power-metal, or metal of any description, without at least having heard the name of Helloween. One of the colossal driving forces behind European power metal, the band's debut full-length "Walls of Jericho" is a true classic of the genre, and is a landmark in the evolution of speed-metal into the power-metal which today is heard by so many.
As power metal, or at least, it's flamboyant European strain, should be, Walls of Jericho is melodic, high-pitched, catchy as hell, and festooned with cheesiness, in the most amazingly enjoyable way, but unlike a lot of power metal, some of the songs don't go in for an epic theme, despite their epic sound; "Reptile" for instance, is a cheeky tale about some kind of reptile living in the sewers, and many of the songs on the album share this to an extent. Lyrically, speed metal seems to be dominant still, with attitude laced lyrics, as opposed to epic, flowery material which was, I must admit, what I expected. Speed metal also survives in the song structures, and the sound is certainly "proto" power-metal, not the fully founded genre. The guitar-work is more jumpy and has quite a lot of meat, and there are riffs which chug and rasp along in a very traditional fashion, and don't quite possess the floweriness of quintessential power metal, which suits me fine, as I like power-metal to have a lot of riff-power, which is why I typically prefer power-metal in the American style.
I have to say, before listening to this, I had no idea that metal like this existed in 1985. Europe, I assumed, would be filled with traditional and speed metal acts, but I was mistaken. I never really looked deeply into power-metal got started, but my ears definitely suggest that one of the likely candidates is around the time of this album, which is definitely more than just speed metal. The hybrid of styles sound really awesome, and definitely takes the things I like about both speed and power metal - It's not hit that overproduced, modern wall which so much power metal has, and it's not lost any momentum - it's got so much "power", and it's easy to see how power metal ended up earning it's name.
I don't listen to as much power-metal as I should, and that is certain, but albums like this make me want to listen to more of it. This album is as much of a piece of history as "Black Metal" "Number of the Beast" or "Kill 'Em All".
I give Walls of Jericho 8/10.
Helloween Official site
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Helloween on Metal Archives