Rating:
7.6
Helloween - Better Than Raw
1998


Disc I
01. Deliberately Limited Preliminary Prelude Period In Z
02. Push
03. Falling Higher
04. Hey Lord!
05. Don't Spit On My Mind
06. Revelation
07. Time
08. I Can
09. A Handful Of Pain
10. Lavdate Dominvm
11. Midnight Sun

Disc II [2006 Expanded Edition]
01. Back On The Ground [Previously Japan Only bonus]
02. A Game We Shouldn't Play [Taken from 'I Can' single]
03. Perfect Gentleman [Live Bootleg Version. Taken from 'Hey Lord!' single]
04. Moshi Moshi Shiki No Uta [Live Drum Solo. Taken from 'Hey Lord!' single]


Now, this Helloween lot. A bit unreliable aren't they? They change from album to album, not necessarily always in a good way. "The Time Of The Oath", this album's predecessor was an out and out Power Metal record, more to the style of their original "Keepers..." albums than the albums that came before it. After "…Oath" came this album, "Better Than Raw", and by comparison it is unfocused and patchy. This is still a good album with some classic Helloween tunes on it however. It just isn't as good as its predecessor and, like I said beforehand, suffers from a lack of focus a little bit. The lack of focus doesn't relate to the fact that there is a wider array of styles on this album, it is a good thing that there is variety and that they did not make another album exactly like "…The Oath". But most of the time, it simply feels as if it's a bunch of sounds and ideas thrown all over the place, and as a result the album does not feel as complete or as cohesive as "…The Oath", or hey, even "Master Of The Rings". In fact I don't think I would be exaggerating in saying that this at times feels like a superior b-sides and rarities album. But, as I have said before, this is not a bad album, not at all. The unfocused nature of the album does take the shine away a bit, but underneath this glaring problem is some excellent songs and good variety. Some of the excellent tracks on this album include "Push", which has a blistering main thrashy riff and some excellent nasty high pitched vocals. Push is quickly followed by another classic, "Falling Higher", which is all-in-all an utterly typical Helloween song. It's chorus and basically the melody throughout the song is unbelievably catchy and powerful. "Revelation" is another awesome track with a heavier sound, like Push before it. It also has a great melody, coupled with some fine restrained vocal work from Deri. Also of note is the slow, but excellent, almost slightly depressing "Time" and the endlessly 'humable' and happy sounding "Lavdate Dominum".

Now, what about the performances? Well, everybody here seems in particularly fine form, and Andri Deri's vocals seem higher in the production this time around. He gets more of a chance to shine, and given the variety of the material on hand, he gets a chance to show off his range. Although I don't think he is anywhere near Michael Kiske's league, he does a damn fine job here, managing to be powerful, emotional and sometimes even slightly menacing when the situation calls for it. The axe-work on this album is maybe just a little better than "…The Oath", although the riffs aren't quite as memorable. Overall, this is a very good album, with some great songs but as I have said before, lacks real focus, and suffers a little bit because of it. It also contains a couple of very weak tracks, such as "Hey Lord" and "I Can". Mainly good stuff all-round though, and a worthy addition to any Power Metal collection.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 9


Band profile: Helloween
Album: Better Than Raw


 


written by stratorock666 | 08.02.2007


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Katatronik - 09.02.2007 at 15:23  
I like a lot this album, there are some good variations, as the incredible "Push", the funny "Lavdate Dominvm", and a darker sound (more evident in the next "The Dark Ride") as in "Revelation" and "Midnight Sun"... So I'd rate 8 in originality...
And again, great songs as "Hey Lord" and "Falling Higher"... So 9 in songwriting...
And a 9 in overall impression... But this is only my opinion
Baz Anderson - 09.02.2007 at 19:23  
this is my least favorite Helloween album - but it still does have some songs on it that i love
'Midnight Sun' especially. 'Lavdate Dominvm' 'Revelation' 'Push' - all brilliant tracks

it would get about a 7.5 out of 10 from me though
wrathchild - 09.02.2007 at 20:06  
I like this one a lot, especially the introduction track that I find simply excellent, one of the best intro track ever made (or let's say, that I've ever heard).

I dislike Push, because they "pushed" too much on this one
But the rest of the album is great, I remember I enjoyed songs like A Handful Of Pain, Hey Lord!, Time, even the über simple I Can, terribly efficient.

No really, the only problem I've got with Better Than Raw is... where the hell did I put this CD? Can't find it anymore...
Baz Anderson - 10.02.2007 at 04:42  
haha - this is my least favorite because of tracks like 'I Can' and 'Hey Lord!'
they are just too simple and unimaginitive for my liking..
those two i would consider the worst two on the album but the majority of the others tracks i do enjoy a lot.. its just the few seemingly uninspired ones that drag it down for me
Dandelion - 10.02.2007 at 10:05  
is a really nice disk-songs like falling higher,revelation,laudate dominum,midnight sun arent been written every day!I wish weikath would be writing all the songs....helloween magic lives on...8,5 for me
Stuff1056 - 11.02.2007 at 09:51  
IMO, their best with Deris.
Joey Jo Jo - 02.03.2007 at 00:09  
This is Helloween's most creative and heavy input. The variety stretches far and wide here. I Can is one of the best songs off the album. The Production is by far the best the band has ever had.

Better Than Raw is by far their best album, and showed a glimpse of how far Helloween can take their music and expand it. Nothing on this album is "typical", and their sound is vastly improved. Too bad they had to make bland outings such The Dark Ride and Rabbit Don't Come Easy that show just how low they can sink.
Dowi - 09.11.2007 at 22:49  
I like its modern sound. 8.8 for me
Lone Reaper - 07.04.2008 at 17:51  
I don't found any breach in this album. Every song is great and overall album sounds splendidly.

9.3 impartially and 9.6 for me because it's the first Hell's album I heard...
Uirapuru - 10.05.2010 at 19:13  
6 for originality? This is one of the most creative of Helloween albums in long time...

I understand that the reviewer thinks there is a lack of focus due to this, but lack of originality is not a problem for this album.

Have to say.. this is their best since debut imo Classic cover art also!
stratorock666 - 29.05.2010 at 12:57  
It gets six for originality because even despite it being one of their most creative albums, and diverse, it IS simply the band pooling all the sounds they have dealt with over the years and doing them in a slightly more updated style, I think i was actually being generous with a six!

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