Helloween, 'Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II' (1988)
I heard "I Want Out" at a tattoo shop up in San Jose. I had been going to some record stores up there and picking up Maiden and picking up some different European power-metal things and they were on a compilation. I heard that song and I thought, "There was no way there could be any songs as crisp and clean and cool as this." I went and bought Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I and II, which came together. and the songs are so well crafted, they could be pop songs.
Then you got Michael Kiske, who's probably one of my favorite vocalists of all time because he's so smooth – it's so effortless and his range is just unbelievable. It never feels like he's trying. He's one of those vocalists, to me, that is just so underrated because people never talk about it. I mean this CD, you couldn't get it at Best Buy forever. I had to order it. It's finally on iTunes now. But it's one of those things where the songwriting is brilliant. It's super polished. It's like what Iron Maiden would do if they were doing a more pop version of themselves.
This record really got me into what was possible on the melodic side of metal. You didn't always have to be brash or vulnerable like Korn or insane like System. This is like straight-ahead, almost feels like punk rock in terms of some of the tempos. But it's just super smooth and it's just amazing songwriting to me.
You can hear this record's influence on "Beast and the Harlot." There's quite a few songs on there that we kind of took ideas from, like, "OK, here's a great little piano thing where they do a huge chord progression or modulation here. Do that." It's one of those records to me that was just a huge staple of my childhood, but when you play it in the car for people, they're like, "What the hell is this? Who's this guy singing?" And I always thought that was fun.