Review

The 14th studio album from venerable German power metal outfit Helloween kicks off with the blistering "Nabatea," a typically ambitious, seven-minute epic concerning a kingdom of nomadic, Mediterranean, peace-loving folks swallowed up by the Roman Empire in AD 106. From there, truncated history lessons are put on the back burner in favor of a more traditional, Keeper of the Seven Keys-era Helloween approach, offering up immaculate blasts of impossibly tuneful, power/neo-classical metal with humor ("Asshole"), apocalyptic glee ("World of War"), and an unapologetic love for all things Iron Maiden ("Far from the Stars"). Brighter, broader, and a good deal lighter in tone than 2010's ominous 7 Sinners, Straight Out of Hell (definitely not Compton) finds Helloween resting on its laurels a bit, but should nonetheless please longtime fans with its huge, soaring choruses and reliably strong musicianship. [A version was released with two bonus tracks, "Another Shot of " and "Burning Sun."] ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi

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