The albums released under this line-up, consisting of Master of the Rings (1994), The Time of the Oath (1996), Better Than Raw (1998) and The Dark Ride (2000), received a warm reception from both fans and critics, gradually establishing Helloween as a successful band again.
However, tensions following the release of The Dark Ride led to the dismissals of both Grapow and Kusch, who then went on to found Masterplan together. Grapow was replaced by Gerstner, but the attempts to find a new drummer were chaotic and no band member was credited for drums on the album Rabbit Don’t Come Easy (2003).
The band finally found a stable drummer in the person of Löble in 2005. Under this new and current line-up, the longest in its history, the band has released four successful studio albums: Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy (2005), Gambling with the Devil (2007), 7 Sinners (2010), and Straight Out of Hell (2013), with all members except Löble contributing to songwriting.
Since its creation, Helloween has released fourteen studio albums, three live albums, three EPs, and twenty-seven singles, and has sold more than five million records worldwide.
2005 saw yet another line-up change, following the “Rabbits on the Run” tour, as it became apparent that Helloween and Stefan Schwarzmann did not share the same musical vision. As further noted by the band, he had some trouble performing fast drum parts, so he was replaced by Daniel Löble, the former drummer of German metal band Rawhead Rexx.
A change in record company also followed as they inked a deal with German label SPV. Any fears that what had now become a revolving door of band members would affect the quality of their new album were laid to rest as Helloween’s new studio album, titled Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy, was released on 28 October 2005 in Germany, and 8 November in the U.S.A. to commercial and critical acclaim.
The album had a pre-release single, “Mrs. God”, as well as a video for the track. The track “Light the Universe” was released as a single on 22 November, featuring Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night on guest vocals. She also appears in the video clip for that track.
In late 2006, Helloween filmed and recorded shows in São Paulo (Brazil), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Tokyo (Japan) for their live album Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006. The DVD also featured extra footage of the band, as well as interviews and a road movie.
This is the second Helloween live album to feature Andi Deris as frontman, and third overall. It enjoyed chart success in several countries: Germany: 9 (DVD) & 58 (CD), Sweden: 9 (DVD), France: 10 (DVD) Helloween has since completed their studio album Gambling with the Devil, which was released on 23 October 2007. It received many positive reviews, with most fans praising the album as being one of the best Deris-era albums.
Despite being one of Helloween’s heaviest albums, it is noted for featuring more keyboards. “As Long as I Fall”, the first single, was released in early September and only available via download (save for Japan, where it was released on CD). The video for the song is available at their official site.
Helloween teamed up with Kai Hansen’s current band Gamma Ray for their 2007–2008 “Hellish Rock” world tour, which started in early November 2007. Helloween were headlining and Gamma Ray were labeled as the “very special guest” with most shows also having fellow German “guest” Axxis.
The tour went through Europe, Asia, and South America, as well as a few dates in the US. The tour is notable for Kai Hansen stepping on stage with his former band fellows Weikath and Grosskopf to perform hits “I Want Out” and “Future World” in the last encore segment of Helloween.
On 26 December 2009, Helloween released the Unarmed – Best of 25th Anniversary album in Japan. The album was released on 1 February 2010 in Europe. The album is a compilation of ten of the band’s best known songs, re-recorded in different musical styles than the original recordings and by the current lineup.
It features a seventeen-minute “Keepers Medley”, recorded by a seventy-piece orchestra from Prague, mixing together “Halloween”, “The Keeper of the Seven Keys”, and “The King for a 1000 Years”. There is a limited edition digipak, including a thirty-minute “making of”-DVD with interviews and studio footage.
The band’s website states that the album was released on 13 April 2010 in North America via Sony & THE END RECORDS labels. On 14 May 2010, it was announced on their site that they were working on a new studio album, which would be their fastest and heaviest effort in years.
Helloween released their thirteenth studio album, 7 Sinners, on 31 October in Europe and 3 November in the US. Before its physical release, the band made it available worldwide for streaming via their Myspace page. The name of the album alludes to the seven deadly sins.
According to Andi Deris, the album goes straight to the point: “After an acoustic album, we needed definitely something that shows the people without any question that this is a metal album.”
The band toured to promote the new album with Stratovarius and Pink Cream 69 as their guests. On 5 April 2011, via the band’s website, it was announced that 7 Sinners was awarded ‘Gold status’ in the Czech Republic.
In June 2012, Helloween entered the studio to begin recording their fourteenth album, Straight Out of Hell, which was released on 18 January 2013. They then went on tour around the world with Gamma Ray again.
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