On first listen, you could be forgiven for thinking that Helker are German: in fact, they hail from that renowned hotbed of heavy metal Argentina, with ‘Somewhere In The Circle’ being their fourth album but the first to be both recorded in English and gain an international release, thanks to a deal inked last year with AFM Records.
However, the assumption that the five piece’s geographic origins lie in Germany, or even Italy, is a fair one to make, due to a number of factors – not least their collaboration with one Mat Sinner, who not only produced the album but also co-wrote all of the 11 tracks. Then, there’s the material itself, which evokes classic Helloween, especially, as well as the likes of Hammerfall, Primal Fear (vocalist Ralf Scheepers makes a guest appearance, along heavy metal mercenary Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, on ‘Begging For Forgiveness’) and just about every other classic European power metal outfit.
All the right elements are included – soaring guitar solos and harmonies, huge, catchy choruses and majestic vocals. Actually, let’s concentrate on the latter for a moment: Diego Valdez does have a powerful, impressive voice, with a delivery and style that is very reminiscent of the late Ronnie James Dio (perhaps a bit too closely imitative on the likes of ‘Modern Roman Circus’, ‘No Chance To Be Reborn’ and ‘Dreams’), Michael Kiske (check ‘Wake Up’ or ‘Ghosts From The Past’) and even Klaus Meine (as on ‘Flying’).
Elsewhere, the musical performances are all powerful and impressive, delivering a collection of songs that don’t stray too far from the traditional power metal formulae but nevertheless do so in an efficient and tidy manner.[7/10]
1. Modern Roman Circus
2. Just By Yourself
3. No Chance To Be Reborn
4. Begging For Forgiveness
5. Wake Up
6. At The End Of The Journey
7. Ghosts From The Past
8. Still Alive
10. Inside Of Me
‘Somewhere In The Circle’ is released on February 18th on AFM Records.