Monday, October 24, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #16: Helloween

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Helloween
Where from:  Germany
Years active:  1984–present
Number of studio albums:  15
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  Straight Out of Hell (#97)

With Halloween only a week away, we now enter the phase of Rocktober that focuses on songs and artists with dark, evil, or mischievous themes.  An obvious choice is today's Deep Cut Artist, German power metal band Helloween.  The band has been continuously putting out albums for the last 31 years, albeit with a couple lineup changes.  They are regarded as one of the more influential European metal bands to come out of the '80s, and they basically invented the power metal genre –- a subgenre of heavy metal that combines traditional heavy metal or speed metal with symphonic elements and often medieval and mythological imagery -- with their 1987 release, Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1.

I remember hearing about Helloween back in the late '80s, probably in Metal Edge magazine.  As a big fan of Halloween and puns, I enjoyed the name, even if I didn't know much of their music.  They also had cool album covers.  The band has enjoyed success in Europe, including their native Germany (five Top 20 albums), as well as Japan (eight Top 10 albums, including a #1 album of karaoke songs).  Due to some internal strife at inopportune times (including the abrupt departure of founding guitarist Kai Hansen in 1988), the band never quite broke through in the US.  In the US, only two albums have charted on the Billboard 200 album charts:  their 1989 live album I Want Out (#123) and 2013's Straight Out of Hell (#97). 

The song I'm going with is not the obvious choice, "Halloween" (off of 1987's Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1), but rather another one of the band's songs that made its way onto my Halloween playlist, "Mr. Torture."  Released on their The Dark Ride album in 2000, "Mr. Torture" is a darkly humorous song about a guy named Mr. Torture who provides remote BDSM services for lonely ladies who might crave that kind of thing.  You can call him, you can check out his web cam.  Hell, you can even visit him live if you want to go to the "torture chamber."  After all, Mr. Torture sells pain to the housewives in Spain.

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