Helloween’s “Halloween”

 

 

Iron Maiden. Oh wait…

 

 

… Helloween! there we go!

 

 

Remember back in the 80s when all the metal magazines were referring to Helloween as “the German Iron Maiden?” No? That’s because they never did. In fact, no one ever referred to Helloween as “the German Iron Maiden,” though it’s not for Helloween’s lack of trying. I refer to them as “the German Iron Maiden ripoff band.” If you took Iron Maiden, removed the greatest bass player in the world in Steve Harris, turned the songwriting into cartoonish silliness, and transported the band from London to Hamburg, you’d have Helloween. Helloween was so into ripping off Maiden, in fact, that they even followed Maiden’s “put one really long, epic song on every album” with “Halloween” off their The Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I, with “Halloween,” a pale imitation of Maiden’s long form classics.

 

The first problem is “Halloween’s” topic. While Iron Maiden’s epics conquered such territories as a man waiting to be executed, Frank Herbert’s Dune saga, Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and the life of Alexander the Great, Helloween tackles kids running around grabbing candy from neighbors. Instead of some larger concept deserving of longer exploration, the Germans pull up totally lame. There’s nothing grandiose about their subject matter. With Maiden, Steve Harris knew to choose subjects that deserved the sweeping narrative approach; “Halloween” is proof positive that Helloween didn’t understand that part of Maiden at all.

 

It’s not just the subject matter where Helloween whiffs. Oh no. It’s the lyrics too. Maybe Helloween could have saved “Halloween” with some terrifying lyrics about bloodthirsty monsters prowling the streets and eating children, or made it funky and had fun with it by going the Michael Jackson route in “Thriller.” Instead, lead singer/ guitarist Kai Hansen writes lyrics about kids buying masks, going door-to-door soliciting candy, and other boring, earthly Halloween rituals. And that’s before the second verse, which references It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Charlie Freakin’ Brown! No right-minded Maiden fan could ever in his wildest nightmares imagine Steve Harris writing a line about Charlie Brown and Linus in one of the band’s epics. That’s absolutely unfathomable, but Hansen jumps in with two feet and goes there. As the 13+ minute tune progresses, Hansen keeps insisting, “In the street on Halloween/ There’s something going on,” but damned if I can figure out what it is. He touches on black magic, darkness and powers unknown, but his imagery is vague. It’s weak writing, which demystifies what he’s going for and makes the song far from scary. As a lyricist, Hansen writes some dumb, generic stuff here. He certainly doesn’t have the mastery of language Harris displays. Usually I pull song lines during these Party Posts, but I’m going to leave the entire lyrics at the bottom this time, because you wouldn’t believe me if I didn’t.

 

There are some cheesy joys to “Halloween” which I can’t deny. Hansen does a pretty spot on Bruce Dickinson impression. The dude’s singing his balls off for 13 minutes, and I can’t knock that. The dual guitar attack is pretty decent cloning of Maiden’s Smith/ Murray combo, with lead and rhythm harmonizing for much of the tune. And I can’t help but chuckle every time the chorus hits and Hansen belts out, “Make your choice/ It’s Hell or Paradise.” Who’s going to choose Hell? Duh. At least the lyrics give me a chuckle. By far the best element of the whole 13 minutes is right at the top of the track, with a keyboard aping John Carpenter’s classic theme to HALLOWEEN! Kai Hansen may be the only artist in history to cop from Carpenter and Iron Maiden in the same breath. I love it.

 

This is the first time I’m writing a Party post for a song I don’t really love, from a band I could take or leave. I hadn’t listened to Helloween since their heyday when I was in high school and Rodriguez and I would listen to all his metal tapes at the schoolyard down the block from his house. I know I’ve been pretty vicious in my appraisal, but “Halloween” is a fun tune if I take it in the light that it’s a really dumb Iron Maiden ripoff from a German band who had no idea what made Maiden’s epics so great. Sure, the results are not Maidenesque, but at least I know on October 31 every year there will be something going on in my streets. And that silliness merits Helloween’s inclusion not in the Hell of Fame, but certainly in the Dead Man’s Party.

 

–Phil Fasso

 

 

“Halloween” lyrics

 

Masquerade, masquerade,
Grab your mask and don’t be late
Get out well disguised
Heat and fever in the air tonight
Meet the others at the store,
Knock on other people’s door
Trick or treat they have no choice,
Little ghost’s are makin’ lotsa noise

But watch out… beware – listen… take care

[Chorus]
In the streets on Halloween
There’s something going on
No way to escape the power unknown
In the streets on Halloween
The spirits will arise
Make your choice, it’s hell or paradise
Ah – It’s Halloween
Ah – It’s Halloween… tonight!

Someone’s sitting in a field,
Never giving yield
Sittin’ there with gleamin’ eyes,
Waiting for big pumpkin to arise
Bad luck if you get a stone,
Like the good old Charlie Brown
You think Linus could be right
The kids will say it’s just a stupid lie

But watch out… beware – listen… take care
[Chorus]

Listen now – we are calling you…
And there is magic in the air

Magic in the air… on Halloween
Black is the night full of fright
You’ll be missing the day
What will be here very soon
Changing your way
A knock at your door
It is real or is it a dream
On trembling legs you open the door
And you scream… on Halloween

Darkness
Where am I now
Is there anybody out there
What has happened
Am I in heaven
Or is it hell

I can see a light comin’
It’s comin’ nearer
It’s shining
It’s shining so bright
It’s shining on me

 

I am the one, doom’s in my hands
Now make your choice,
Redeemed or enslaved

I’ll show you passion and glory
He is the snake
I’ll give you power and abundance
He’s the corrupter of man

Save me from the evil one
Give me strength to carry on
I will fight for all mankind’s
Deliverance and peace of mind

But watch out… beware – listen… take care

[Chorus]

Yeah, it’s Halloween

Yeah, it’s Halloween… tonight!

 

 

Facebook Twitter Digg Stumbleupon
 

Leave a Reply