Last updated: 03/07/2012 11:00:00 AM
Few bands get to the top and drop out so fast as Helloween. Their career is characterized by ups, downs, disappearances, new members, name changes and a lot of critics.
The band started in end of '70's (1978 to be precise), when Kai Hansen and Peter Sielck formed a band named Gentry, with some guest musicians. Two years later, they decide to invite two new members in the band: Markus Grosskopf on bassist and Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums. And with the new members they changed their name to Second Hell.
The band still wasn't satisfied with their new name, so in '82 they changed it again to Iron Fist. At that time, Kai Hansen was trying to bring a new guitarist to his project. It was Michael Weikath, who came from an unknown band named Powerfool. They then changed their name again and finally to Helloween.
After two years full of rehearsals and a few gigs, they were finally invited to record two songs for a collection named "Death Metal", which in spite of the name it had nothing to do with the style. They recorded "Metal Invaders" (their first hit) and "Oernst of Life". The second one was in fact an old composition from Weikath's last band. Recently this music was re-released in a double CD named "12 years in Noise", from their first label, Noise Records.
In their self-named first mini-LP, released in '85, the vocals were done by Kai Hansen, who also sang in their first album, "Walls of Jericho", But Hansen couldn't sing and play guitar at the same time, and they invited Michael Kiske to join the band. As everybody knows, this was the perfect decision, 'cause Michael Kiske's amazing voice and charisma got Helloween to the top all over the world.
With this formation, the band released their masterpieces, "Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. I and II". But in the beginning of the '90's, they rann in to some serious problems First, guitarist/vocalist/mentor Kai Hansen left the band, alleging tours fatigue. Kai formed another band some months later, Gamma Ray. Then, Michael Kiske got involved with an obscure religion, and started a lot of misunderstanding with the other members.
But surely the worst episode happened with drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, who had some schizophrenic hereditary problems. Before a show in Japan, he dropped on the floor and started to cry compulsively. While touring, he used to become very depressed, and then this was compounded by euphoric moments caused by cocaine use. Everybody knows how this story ended: Ingo commit suicide. With all these problems, it becomes obvious why the next few albums didn't have a good repercussion. The band started a fight with labels, and according to Weikath, Noise didn't paid then what they should have, EMI fired them, and even nowadays they are rumors they're having problems with Castle.
After overcoming all these problems, they invited Andi Deris to replace Michi's place and Uli Kusch (ex-Gamma Ray) to the play the drums. And so, with the current formation (Deris, Kusch, Weikath, Grosskopf and Roland Grapow) they released "Master of the Rings" and tried to get back to the top. In the last year, they released "The Time of the Oath", a double-live album named "High Live".
Now, in 1998, they have just released their lastest album, "Better than Raw", wich is considered the best since Keepers. The band stays the same for the happyness of the fans. Now we will have to wait for the next album until the next milenium...