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Kai Hansen - Heavy Metal je zakon (1. deo)
08.09.2016. | |

Ako ste bar do kolena zagazili u heavy metal vode sigurno ste čuli za njega. Njegov uticaj je svuda: od mainstream bendova kao što su HammerFall i Blind Guardian do underground bisera kao što su Stormwarrior i Iron Savior. Zajedno sa četiri saborca započeo je revoluciju u žanru i popločao put potpuno novom pravcu, zbog čega je dobio nadimak "otac power metala". Ove godine obeležava tri decenije u heavy metalu, i po svemu sudeći nema nameru da uspori. Njegovo ime je Kai Hansen.

Počeci

Kai Hansen u danima benda GentryKai Michael Hansen rođen je 17. januara 1963. godine u nemačkom gradu Hamburgu. Još od malih nogu Kai postaje zainteresovan za muziku, te počinje da svira na improvizovanim bubnjevima u svojoj 10. godini. Kako njegovi roditelji nisu bili fanovi buke koju je Hansen stvarao na bubnjevima, sa 12 godina dobija prvu, akustičnu gitaru i kreće na kurs klasične gitare u trajanju od 6 meseci. Sa svojim školskim drugovima osniva svoj prvi bend i kupuje prvu električnu gitaru, beli Ibanez Les Paul, malo pojačalo, a ubrzo i prvu pedalu. Hansen stiče novog prijatelja iz Hamburga, čoveka koji je takođe pokazao interesovanje za muziku od malih nogu i koji će takođe igrati ogromnu ulogu u razvoju power metal žanra. Njegovo ime je Piet Sielck, i zajedno sa Hansen-om osnivaju bend Gentry. Sa ovim bendom Hansen je prvi put osetio čar živih nastupa, kako su Gentry nastupali u školama i manjim klubovima. Gentry je bio tribute bend, a na njihovom repertoaru našle su se obrade bendova poput Sex Pistols, Slade i Uriah Heep. Nedugo zatim, Hansen i Sielck počinju komponovanje autorskog materijala.

Kako bi skupio sredstva za novu opremu Hansen radi kao raznosač novina i ubrzo kupuje svoje prvo pojačalo marke Marshall. Svoj beli Ibanez Les Paul menja sa drugom za gitaru marke Stratocaster. Hansen i Sielck upoznaju ritam sekciju koju čine Markus Grosskopf i Ingo Schwichtenberg, i zajedno osnivaju bend Second Hell sa Sielck-om na vokalima, koji ubrzo menja više imena da bi se napokon prozvali Iron Fist. Sledi još mnogo nastupa u malim klubovima, ali i prve probe novog materijala. Međutim, usled nedostatka mesta za probe bend se raspada. Tokom služenja vojske u periodu između 1982. i 1984. Hansen upoznaje Michael-a Weikath-a, kolegu gitaristu, koji poziva Hansena u svoj bend Powerfool. Međutim, zbog neslaganja sa ostalim članovima, Hansen i Weikath izlaze iz benda i ponovo osnivaju Iron Fist zajedno sa Grosskopf-om i Schwichtenberg-om. Njegov bivši kolega Piet Sielck prestaje da se bavi sviranjem i odlazi u Ameriku kako bi se posvetio karijeri producenta. Na Schwichtenberg-ov predlog bend menja ime u Helloween.

"Mini LP" i "Walls of Jericho"

Mladi bend stupa u kontakt sa izdavačkom kućom Noise Records sa kojom ih povezuje tadašnji menadžer Limb Scnoor, i po prvi put se pojavljuje na nosaču zvuka na kompilaciji "Death Metal" 1984. godine na kojoj su se našli i sastavi Running Wild, Hellhammer i Dark Avenger. Helloween su se na ovoj kompilaciji predstavili pesmama "Oernst of Life" koju je komponovao Weikath i "Metal Invaders", koju je napisao Hansen. Reakcija na njihove pesme je toliko pozitivna da bend dobija ponudu da potpiše ugovor za Noise. Već sledeće godine bend izdaje eponiman EP, koji sadrži uglavnom materijal koji uglavnom potpisuje Hansen, sa par pesama u čijem komponovanju je učestvovao i Weikath. EP je snimljen u studiju Musiclab u Berlinu u januaru i februaru iste godine. Uvod u prvu pesmu, bombastičnu numeru "Starlight" u kome dečiji hor peva stihove "happy, happy halloween" preuzet je iz filma "Halloween III: Season of the Witch", i ostaće moto ovog benda do današnjeg dana. Produkciju albuma potpisuje sam bend, dok je inženjer zvuka bio Harris Johns.

Postava benda Helloween 1986. godine

Iste godine, 18. novembra Helloween izdaju i svoj prvi studijski album pod imenom "Walls Of Jericho" čiji su kultni omot kreirali EdaUwe Karczewski, zaduženi i za omot EP izdanja. Produkciju i miks ovog puta potpisuje Harris Johns, dok je materijal takođe snimljen u studiju Musiclab u periodu između septembra i oktobra 1985. godine. Kao i na EP izdanju, na debitantskom albumu sastava nalaze se pesme koje su nastajale u različitim periodima i sa različitim bendovima, pa su tako pesme "Metal Invaders" i "Gorgar" nastale tokom proba benda Iron Fist, dok je prototip pesme "How Many Tears" Micheal Weikath napisao dok je bio u bendu Powerfool, samo što se tada zvala "Sea of Fears". Kako su imali punu kontrolu nad produkcijom zahvaljujući vlasniku izdavačke kuće Karl-u Walterbach-u, Helloween su hteli da kopiraju produkciju albuma "In The Beginning" sastava Malice, te je Johns dao sve od sebe da ponovi taj zvuk. Na omotu albuma, kao i na EP izdanju, pojavljuje se maskota Fangface, koju je bend nakon ovog izdanja eliminisao usled prevelike sličnosti sa maskotom benda Iron Maiden.

I EP i debi album su bendu doneli brojne pozitivne kritike i armiju fanova zbog činjenice da je to što je Helloween svirao bilo nešto novo. Debitantski album je prodat u preko 110.000 primeraka, što je bilo rame uz rame sa daleko popularnijim nemačkim sastavima Accept, pa čak i Scorpions. Spoj brzine koju je donosio Hansen i melodije za koju je bio zadužen Weikath u to vreme bio je neobičan i svež, a najbliži njihovom zvuku bili su bendovi Iron Maiden i Metallica, sa kojima su često upoređivani. Ova pomama je bendu otvorila mnoga vrata i donela brojne nastupe, među kojima su turneja po Evropi sa bendom Grave Digger i turneja po Severnoj Americi sa thrash metal sastavom Exodus. Međutim, Hansen je tu shvatio da ima poteškoća da istovremeno preuzme uloge pevača i gitariste, kako je pevao bez ikakve tehnike a sa izuzetnim naporom zbog čega je često imao upale grla. Tu bend odlučuje da potraži novog vokala kako bi se Kai u potpunosti posvetio gitari i zahtevnijim deonicama na istoj. Bend izdaje još jedno EP izdanje pod imenom "Judas", na kome se našla istoimena pesma koja je ujedno i poslednji put da se Hansen nađe u ulozi glavnog vokala benda Helloween.

"Keeper of the Seven Keys" i uspon velike bundeve

Potraga za vokalom bila je mukotrpna. Pevač sastava Tyran' Pace, Ralf Scheepers, odbio je brojne pozive benda da im se pridruži, što ih je dovelo u ćorsokak. U tom periodu članovi benda čuli su EP američkog sastava Queensryche pod imenom "Queen of the Reich" i očarani vokalom Geoff-a Tate-a bili rešeni da nađu nekoga sa sličnim vokalnim mogućnostima. Taj neko bio je Michael Kiske, frontmen Hamburškog sastava Ill-Prophecy. Nažalost, Kiske nije bio previše zainteresovan za njihov stil muzike, te je odbio više poziva od strane članova benda. Na insistiranje sastava da planiraju da promene zvuk, Kiske je ipak ušao u bend. Bend je počeo sa radom na novom albumu 25. novembra 1986. godine  u izmenjenoj postavi, sa producentskim timom koji su činili Tommy Newton i Tommy Hansen.

Prvi deo albuma

Sa namerom da prošire i apeluju na drugačiju bazu fanova, Helloween su promenili zvuk, fokusirajući se na melodiju i na upečatljiv glas novog frontmena. Materijal za naslednika izuzetno uspešnog debi albuma ovog puta pisali su i Hansen i Weikath, sa par pesama koje je iz svog prethodnog benda doneo Michael Kiske. Uz pomoć producentskog tima Newton-Hansen, bend je ispeglao svoj zvuk i dobio spoj brutalne muzike karakteristične za thrash i speed metal žanr i čistih, pevljivih vokala. Rezultat je bio revolucija u žanru čija je kruna bio 13-minutni ep "Halloween" koji je napisao Hansen tokom proba na kojima je učestvovao i Schwichtenberg. Bend je imao pregršt materijala i hteo da objavi dupli album, što nije bila česta praksa kod heavy metal bendova u to vreme.

Međutim, izdavačka kuća Noise Records je odbila ovaj predlog, tipujući na veće prodaje ukoliko bi se album objavio iz dva dela. Kao rezultat toga, prvi deo albuma "Keeper of the Seven Keys" objavljen je 16. feburara 1987. godine, i na njemu se uglavnom našao materijal koji je napisao Hansen, uključujući i pomenuti ep, kao i neke od njihovih najvećih hitova među kojima su "I'm Alive" i "Future World". Producentski duo, inspirisan produkcijom albuma "Pyromania" benda Def Leppard, dao je materijalu preko potrebnu čistinu i potpuno novu dimenziju i upravo ovaj zvuk će postati okosnica power metal žanra. Zbog činjenice da je Weikath bio bolestan, sve ritam gitare na albumu je odsvirao sam Hansen. Weikath je snimio gitarske deonice jedino za baladu "A Tale That Wasn't Right" koju je sam napisao.

Helloween Lineup in 1987

Album je dobio odlične kritike, kako fanova tako i novina, što je bendu donelo dosta uspeha preko okeana. Zajedno sa sastavima Grim Reaper i Armored Saint, Helloween su se otisnuli na turneju po Severnoj Americi. Na inicijativu američkog distributera, izdavačke kuće RCA, bend snima spot za pesmu "Halloween", koji je skraćen na četiri minuta kako bi mogao da bude prikazivan na kanalu MTV. Međutim, nakon evropske turneje sa bendom Overkill javljaju se naznake prvih problema u taboru benda. Kai Hansen, iscrpljen od turneje apeluje na bend da na neko vreme pauziraju sa turnejama. Međutim, kako su se bendu u to vreme otvarala mnoga vrata, ostali članovi su smatrali da nije bilo pravo vreme za predah. Bend se neminovno podelio u tabore, gde su najstariji članovi Hansen, GrosskopfSchwichtenberg činili jedan, a pridošlice Weikath i Kiske drugi. Rasprave između njih su bile brojne, od muzičkog pravca, preko turneja do sitnijih detalja. Nezadovoljan situacijom u bendu, činjenicom da su promovisani u brojnim pop časopisima pored imena kao što su Michael Jackson i David Hasselhoff, i željom ostalih članova da promene pravac, Hansen je počeo da razmišlja o napuštanju benda.

"'I Want Out' - Usklik jedne generacije"

Slogan kojim je naslednik izuzetno uspešnog prvog dela albuma "Keeper of the Seven Keys" promovisan u američkim časopisima bio je jezivo proricljiv. A kako i ne bi bio, kada je upravo ovu pesmu Hansen napisao kao oproštajno pismo bendu pod naletom emocija koje su se već godinu dana krčkale u njegovoj glavi. No kako bilo, Hansen je ostao sa bendom kada je izdat drugi deo albuma "Keeper of the Seven Keys" u junu 1988. godine. Ovog puta na albumu se našlo više pesama koje je napisao Weikath, a ideja iza toga bila je da na prvom delu bude Hansen-ov materijal zbog stilske bliskosti sa debitantskim izdanjem, dok su Weikath-ove kompozicije koje su bile dosta komercijalnije svoje mesto našle na drugom albumu. Hitovi kao što su "I Want Out" i "March of Time" koje je napisao Hansen, kao i "Eagle Fly Free", "Dr. Stein" i još jedan 13-minutni, naslovni ep koje je napisao Weikath i dan danas važe za neke od njihovih najvećih hitova. Drugi deo duplog albuma je bio prvi put da bend bude obeležen kao "power metal" i "nemački metal".

Drugi deo albuma

Uprkos izuzetnom komercijalnom uspehu drugog dela, unutar benda razdor je postajao sve veći. Bend je provodio više vremena svađajući se oko muzike nego komponujući istu, a Hansen-ov revolt pravcem kojim je bend hteo da nastavi došao je do kritične tačke. Gitarista je još jednom okupio bend na sastanku i izrazio želju da prestane sa turnejama bar na godinu dana. Međutim, prostora za pauzu i dalje nije bilo. Bend je dobio priliku da svira na prestižnom festivalu "Monsters of Rock", 20. avgusta 1988. godine u Doningtonu na jednom od najpoznatijih izdanja u istoriji tog festivala zajedno sa izvođačima kao što su Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth, Kiss, Megadeth, i Guns N' Roses. Međutim, tu su nastale i začkoljice sa izdavačkom kućom Noise Records, čiji je rezultat bio dugogodišnja tužba te dve stranke. Bend je živeo od nedovoljno velikog honorara uprkos brojnim koncertima i neverovatnoj prodaji ploča, diskova i majica.

Helloween Lineup in 1988

Na jesen 1988. godine bend se otisnuo na još jednu turneju pod imenom "Pumpkins Fly Free" koja je ovekovečena kroz koncertni album "Live in the UK" snimljen u Škotskoj. Isti album izdat je kao "Keeprers Live" u Japanu i "I Want Out Live" u Americi. U to vreme objavljen je i spot za pesmu "I Want Out" koji je režirao legendarni Storm Thorgerson, proslavljen po radu sa sastavom Pink Floyd. Bend je potpisao ugovor sa menadžmentom benda Iron Maiden, što im je donelo još jednu američku turneju pod imenom "Headbanger's Ball" zajedno sa sastavima Anthrax i Exodus. Međutim uoči te turneje, 1. januara 1989. godine Kai Hansen je saopštio ostalim članovima benda da napušta Helloween. Svoj poslednji koncert sa bendom Hansen je održao u Birmingemu, u Velikoj Britaniji 8. novembra 1988. Hasnena u bendu menja gitarista Roland Grapow iz sastava Rampage. Skoro mesec dana nakon Hansen-ovog izlaska, 21. januara 1989. godine drugi deo albuma "Keeper of the Seven Keys" postiže zlatni tiraž. Helloween napuštaju Noise Records istog meseca i potpisuju ugovor sa izdavačkom kućom EMI, kada počinje njihov sunovrat. Ali to je priča za drugi povod.

Vreme gazi dalje

Kai Hansen u bendu Helloween
Razočaran u kraj karijere sa bendom Helloween ali odlučan da nastavi da se bavi muzikom, Hansen počinje da se bavi raznim studijskim projektima. Stupa u kontakt sa bendom koji je inspirisan ranijim radovima benda Helloween, Blind Guaridan i gostuje na njihvom drugom albumu "Follow The Blind" gde peva i svira solo na pesmi "Valhalla" i snima solažu za pesmu "Hall of the King". Hansen pomaže bendu da se proslavi i tu počinje njihova duga i uspešna saradnja. Međutim, pun ideja od kojih su neke nastale još u danima sastava Iron Fist, Hansen stupa u kontakt sa pevačem sada raspuštenog benda Tyran Pace, Ralf-om Scheepers-om sa kojim je ostao u kontaktu od dana kada je bend Helloween prišao pevaču sa ponudom da im se priključi. Njih dvojica počinju sa radom na projektu koji je trebao da ostane vezan za studio, međutim ubrzo mu se pridružuju basista  Uwe Wessel i bubnjar Mathias Burchard, i postaje jasno da je to početak novog Hansen-ovog benda. Taj bend dobio je ime GAMMA RAY. 

Nastavak u drugom delu specijala...

The Story of Kai Hansen, Part 1 - Heavy Metal Is The Law
08.09.2016. | |

If you are at least knee-deep in the heavy metal genre, chances are that you've heard his name. His influence is everywhere: from mainstream acts such as HammerFall and Blind Guardian, to underground jewels such as Stormwarrior and Iron Savior. With his four bandmates he started a revolution in the genre back in the 80's and ushered in a brand new genre, giving him the nickname "father of power metal". This year marks his three decades in the heavy metal business and judging by his recent output he's not planning on slowing down. His name is Kai Hansen.

The Beginnings

Kai Hansen u danima benda Gentry

Kai Michael Hansen was born on January 17th 1963 in the German city of Hamburg. As early as 10 years old, Kai developed an interest in music and started playing wash-drums. As his parents weren’t too excited about the noise, they bought him an acoustic guitar and Kai took a six-month classical guitar course. With some of his schoolmates Hansen formed his first band after he had bought his first electric guitar, a white Ibanez Les Paul, his first amp and later on a distortion panel. Hansen met a man who similarly developed interest in music at an early age, and who would be almost as instrumental in the rise of the power metal genre. His name is Piet Sielck, and together with Hansen he formed Gentry. This is the band that first got Kai to experience the joy of performing live, as the band played small clubs and local schools. Gentry started out as a tribute band, their set comprised of classics recorded by the likes of The Sex Pistols, Slade and Uriah Heep. Soon enough Hansen and Sielck begun composing their own songs.

In order to save money to purchase more equipment, Hansen started working as a newspaper delivery boy and bought his first Marshall amp. He traded his white Ibanez for a Stratocaster. After several line-up changes and borrowed members, Hansen and Sielck enlisted the help of Markus Grosskopf and Ingo Schwichtenberg who formed the band’s rhythm section. Together they form Second Hell and change their name to Iron Fist but not before going by several other names. They get to perform in small clubs and try out new and original songs. However, due to the lack of rehearsal space the band split up. During his time serving the army between 1982 and 1984, Hansen met a young guitarist named Michael Weikath who invited Hansen to join his band Powerfool. However, due to various disagreements with the other band members, Hansen and Weikath abandoned Powerfool and together with Grosskopf and Schwichtenberg re-formed Iron Fist. Piet Sielck gave up on playing, and in order to pursue a career in music production left for the US. The band changes their name once again, adopting the name Helloween at Schwichtenberg’s suggestion.

"Mini LP" and "Walls of Jericho"

Through manager Limb Scnoor the band got in touch with Noise Records and saw their material published for the first time. Helloween were featured on a sampler titled "Death Metal", also featuring Running Wild, Hellhammer and Dark Avenger. Helloween presented themselves with two tracks, "Oernst of Life" penned by Weikath and "Metal Invaders" composed by Hansen. The reception was so great that Noise offered the band a contract. Helloween published their first, eponymous EP often called "The Mini LP" in April the next year. The EP is comprised of material mostly written by Hansen with some input by Weikath. It was recorded at Musiclab studios in Berlin between January and February 1985. The band handled the production, with Harris Johns credited as an engineer. The "happy, happy Halloween" introduction to the bombastic opener "Starlight" was taken from the movie "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" and remains the band’s maxim to this day.

Postava benda Helloween 1986. godine

On November 18th of the same year, Helloween published their first full-length album titled "Walls of Jericho". The recognizable album cover was created by Edda and Uwe Karczewski, who created the EP cover as well. This time Harris Johns was credited as the producer, and the material was once again recorded at Musiclab Studios between September and October 1985. Similarly to the EP, this album features tracks that were composed earlier, with reworked "Metal Invaders" and "Gorgar" created during the Iron Fist rehearsals together with Sielck, while the prototype for the closing track "How Many Tears" was developed by Weikath while he was still a member of Powerfool, when the track was called "Sea of Fears". The band had full control of the production thanks to Noise records CEO Karl Walterbach, and they urged Johns to replicate the production of an album released the same year, "In the Beginning" by Malice. The album and the EP cover both feature Fangface as the band mascot, which was later ditched due to various similarities to Iron Maiden’s Eddie.

Both the EP and the debut brought the band wide acclaim and an army of fans, due to the fact that their sound was fresh and unique. The debut was sold in over 110,000 copies, rivaling the sales of their more popular country mates like Accept and even Scorpions. The mixture of speedy riffs brought by Hansen and Weikath’s sense of melody was considered unusual and new at the time and as a result they were often compared to Metallica or Iron Maiden on speed. The craze opened many doors for the band and led to extensive touring. They toured Europe along with Grave Digger and North America with the Bay Area thrash metal act Exodus. However, this is when Hansen realized that he had trouble performing the double duty of being the vocalist and the guitarist of the band, as he sung without a technique which often led to throat inflammations. As a result the band decided to look for a new singer, so Kai could focus on the guitar and a more intricate style of playing. The band published a new EP titled "Judas", the title track of which marks the last time Kai was credited as a lead vocalist for Helloween.

"Keeper of the Seven Keys" and the Rise of The Great Pumpkin

Looking for a new vocalist proved to be a tough challenge for the band. Ralf Scheepers of Tyran’ Pace had declined several invitations from the band, leading them to a dead end. At the time the members of Helloween got their hands on Queensryche’s debut EP titled "Queen of the Reich", and impressed by Geoff Tate’s powerful performance decided that they want this style of operatic vocals for their next record. They found everything they were looking for in young Michael Kiske, singer of Hamburg-based act Ill-Prophecy. Sadly, Kiske wasn’t too fond of their style and declined several invitations to join Helloween. After Michael Weikath managed to convince Kiske that they wanted to stray away from the raw sound of the debut, he finally decided to take the position. On November 25th 1986 the band started working on the new album with a new member in the lineup and under the supervision of a production team starring Tommy Newton and Tommy Hansen.

Prvi deo albuma

Looking to attract a larger fanbase and appeal to a different audience, Helloween took a different approach to their sound, focusing on the melodies and the enticing voice of their new singer. This time the writing duties for the follow-up to the successful debut were divided equally between Hansen and Weikath, with Kiske contributing with a few songs penned while he was still in his former band. With the help of the Newton-Hansen production team the band polished their sound, and the result was a mixture of speed metal tracks and clean vocals you could sing along to. This was a milestone for the heavy metal genre and the 13-minute, Hansen-penned epic "Halloween" embodies what this sound is all about. The band had tons of material and planned on publishing a double-album, a practice not common with heavy metal bands at the time.

However Noise Records declined assuming that two albums would earn more than a double one. As a result, the first of two "Keeper of the Seven Keys" records was released on February 16th 1987. It was comprised of songs mostly written by Hansen including the aforementioned epic track as well as some of their signature hits such as "I’m Alive" and "Future World". The production team was inspired by the production of the widely acclaimed "Hysteria" by Def Leppard, and using it as a template gave the songs the much needed refined sound and a brand new style. This sound would become the staple of every power metal album production for years to follow. Due to guitarist Michael Weikath’s illness, the rhythm guitars on the album were played by Hansen. Weikath only recorded guitar parts for the ballad he wrote titled "A Tale That Wasn’t Right".

Helloween Lineup in 1987

The album received great reviews from the press and a great response from the fans. The positive reception took Helloween across the ocean, as they toured the US together with Grim Reaper and Armored Saint. Their American distributer at the time, RCA, got them to record a video for the epic "Halloween", but cut it to four minutes so that the video can be played on MTV. However, after the European tour together with Overkill, the first struggles within the band started taking shape. Exhausted from touring, Hansen asked the band to take a short break from live performances. However, as the band was just starting to gain momentum the time to take a break was just not right. The band split into factions, with founding members Hansen, Grosskopf and Schwichtenberg taking one side, and newcomers Weikath and Kiske the other. The disputes ranged from arguing about their musical direction on the future releases, to extensive touring and other, mostly insignificant topics. Unhappy with everything going on behind the scenes, the fact that they were promoted in magazines with the likes of Michael Jackson and David Hasslehoff, and the band arguing for a stylistic change, Hansen started contemplating leaving the band.

"I Want Out" – The Outcry of a Generation

This slogan, used to promote the sequel to the "Keeper of the Seven Keys" record in the US was eerily clairvoyant, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as Hansen wrote this song as a goodbye letter inspired by emotions boiling inside him for over a year. Be that as it may, Hansen stayed with the band and saw the release of the second "Keeper of the Seven Keys" record in June of 1988. This time the record featured more Weikath-penned tracks. The idea behind this was that the first album should feature tracks written by Hansen due to their similarity to the style of their debut, while the second album would feature tracks composed by Weikath which were a lot more mainstream by comparison. Timeless classics like Hansen's "I Want Out" and "March of Time" as well as Weikath's "Eagle Fly Free", "Dr. Stein" and a second 13-minute epic "Keeper of the Seven Keys" are considered some of their finest works to date. The second part of the record was the first one to be branded "Power Metal" and "German Metal".

Drugi deo albuma

Despite vast commercial success of the Keeper’s part two, the rift between the band members kept growing. They spent more time arguing about the music rather than composing it, and Hansen’s discontent with the musical direction band was hell bent on taking had reached a boiling point. The guitar player called for a meeting and once again asked that the band take at least a year-long break from touring. Again, the time was not right for this. The band got the chance to perform as a part of the largest and most memorable line-up in the history of the "Monsters of Rock" festival along with the likes of Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth, Kiss, Megadeth and Guns N’ Roses at Donington Park on August 20th 1988. Around the same time the tension between the band and their record label Noise led to an argument which would later lead to a lawsuit. The band was discontent with how much they were being paid taking into account great record and merchandise sales, as well as frequent touring.

Helloween Lineup in 1988

In the fall of 1988 the band went on yet another European tour named "Pumpkins Fly Free" which spawned their first ever live album titled "Live in the UK" recorded during their show in Scotland. The same record was released as "Keepers Live" in Japan and "I Want Out Live" in the US. At the same time the band published a music video for the singe "I Want Out" directed by the legendary Storm Thorgerson, famous for his work with Pink Floyd. The band signed for Iron Maiden’s management team, which led to another US tour titled "Headbanger’s Ball" in support of the acclaimed MTV show of the same name, alongside Anthrax and Exodus. However, just before the start of the tour, in December of 1988 Kai Hansen broke the news to the other members that he was leaving Helloween. Hansen’s last show with the band was in Birmingham, UK on November 8th 1988. Hansen was replaced by Rampage axeman Roland Grapow. Almost a month after his departure, on January 21st 1989. "Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 2" was certified Gold. Helloween left Noise Records for EMI, ushering the beginning of their downfall. But that’s a story for another time.

Time Marches On

Kai Hansen u bendu Helloween

Disappointed with the premature ending of his career with Helloween, but determined to keep creating the music he loves, Kai Hansen took up various studio projects. He started working with a young German band heavily influenced by early Helloween, called Blind Guardian. Hansen first appears on their sophomore album "Follow the Blind", providing vocals and guitars on the track "Valhalla" and contributing a solo to "Hall of the King". Hansen helped them break through, leading to a long and fruitful cooperation between the two. But with a lot of ideas dating back to his Iron Fist days, Hansen contacted Ralf Scheepers of now disbanded Tyran’ Pace who he kept in touch with ever since offering him the position of the lead singer in Helloween. The two begun working on a project that was supposed to stay in the studio, and were soon joined by bass player Uwe Wessel and drummer Mathias Burchard. It became apparent that this project was meant to evolve into something more. It evolved into GAMMA RAY.

To Be Continued…

Autor: Jovan Ristić

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