Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Dark Ride and Rabbit Don't Come Easy (2000-2004) REVIEW

The year 2000 saw the release of The Dark Ride, a more experimental and darker album than their previous releases. It came complete with downtuned guitars and a gruffer singing style from Deris. Immediately following the tour, Helloween parted ways with guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch.
One version of events states that Weikath, Deris and Grosskopf felt that Kusch and Grapow, in particular, were spending more time on and paying more attention to their new side-project, Masterplan (Grapow's output on Helloween albums had dropped to barely one song per album by that point); since the others believed that Kusch and Grapow were not 100% dedicated to Helloween they were dismissed. Another version states that Grapow and Kusch had pushed to continue the direction that the band had taken with The Dark Ride and that Weikath, not wanting a repetition of the Kiske situation, huddled with Deris and Grosskopf, whereby the decision was made to get rid of them. In any case, they were fired, via e-mail (with Grapow's wife finding out before he did that he had been fired), and decided to make Masterplan their full-time band. They were replaced by guitarist Sascha Gerstner (ex-Freedom Call, Neumond), and drummer Mark Cross (ex-Metalium, Kingdom Come, At Vance, Firewind), culminating with the recording of another studio album, titled Rabbit Don't Come Easy, in 2003. Cross could not finish the album due to mononucleosis, completing only two tracks; the drum tracks were completed by Motörhead's Mikkey Dee. Stefan Schwarzmann, former drummer of Running Wild and Accept would shortly thereafter take over the drumming duties. Despite a somewhat tepid response to the album, Helloween nonetheless completed a successful world tour, highlighted by the return of classic songs such as "Starlight", "Murderer", "Keeper of the Seven Keys" and "How Many Tears" to the setlist. Additionally, the band toured the United States for the first time since 1989 playing to sold-out crowds at nearly every venue.