Helloween-The Dark Ride
           © 2000 Victor (Japan)
Just when you thought you had heard the last of the great albums of the year, here comes another one. This time around the band worked with the amazing Roy Z who has put the finishing touches on some of the years best releases. So how is it you might ask??

I purchased the Japanese version which is an absolutely beautiful presentation. The booklet is made out of some sort of mylar plastic with vellum interleaf. Photos are very glossy and the disc is in a slightly thicker jewel box. Another thing that kicks you in the face is the production. Fantastic! This disc sounds amazing. Lets talk about the music.

The music in general on this album is very solid. Some of the best the band has offered so far. I always liked the intro's that the band kick the album off with. 'Beyond the Portal' is no exception. Sounds great and leads into 'All over the Nations'. This first track is classic Helloween.  Fast tempo with melodic classical style elements. Some of my particular favorites include 'Escalation 666', 'The departed Sun is going down', 'The Dark Ride', and 'We damn the Night' .  All bring a slightly different feel to the mix, but all are definite Helloween anthems. The music throughout the album is very consistent. The guitars sound a little nastier on this release. Makes the disc sound a bit heavier. There is some very good keyboard work on the album as well. Adds depth to some of the tracks. The Japanese version also contains the bonus track 'The Madness of the Crowds'. This tune is very classic Helloween in nature and is nice to have.

This is a very outstanding album with amazing presentation. I am a Helloween fan from many years ago and with great efforts such as this, I will be a fan for a long time to come. If you like your metal solid and technically sound, this is a must have. It comes highly recommended from me!
Fatal Smile-Beyond Reality 2000
        © 2000 Fatal Smile (Independent)
I always say that the scene is a bit more friendly overseas, and judging by the base of new bands in the overseas scene, it just makes my point. One of the bands I am talking about is Sweden's Fatal Smile. I recieved a 3 track promo which will be the topic of this review.

First track is 'The Saviour'. Good melodies with hard driving guitar. Probably my favorite of the 3. Second track is 'Beyond Reality' which has a pretty thick guitar sound. Choruses are instantly memorable. The final track is 'Love has mysterious ways'. Not too different from the previous two. Shows that consistency in songwriting.

Fatal Smile is a good band with some decent songwriting skill. The band recently picked up former Scudiero vocalist H.B. Anderson. My feeling is that they shouldn't have too hard of a time securing a deal to release a full length album. Watch for these guys in the future.

Website: http://www.fatalsmile.nu