Halloween - Halloween 4.0: Tales From The Crypt 2003 Self Released Reviewed by EC
1. Welcome 2. Tales From The Crypt 3. 7 Years 4. FightingWords 5. Crawl To The Altar 6. Black Skies 7. She's A Teazer 8. Vicious Lies 9. Trick Or Treat 10. Lights, Camera, Action 11. What A Nice Place 12. No One Gets Out 13. Die Forever 14. Fire Still Burns
The wait is finally over. Longtime Detroit shock rockers Halloween have returned with their brand new album....or should I just say album? I was really expecting something big with this release. Its been years since I've even heard the band's name mentioned and even longer since they last released a record. I had huge plans for this release, centering my entire metal listening experience of late around the magical night when I tore through the wrapping and emerged with the holy grail...a NEW Halloween record!!! Sadly, I am very disappointed.
I had heard the new record was going to be entitled "The Fire Still Burns" and the release date had been postponed for almost two years. The infrequent posts on the band's site has been proclaiming that "The Fire Still Burns" would be released in October of 2002. Well, that never happened and it is now 2004 and the record has yet to surface.
Late spring of 2003 I read that the group would be putting out "Tales From The Crypt" on Halloween, 2003. Immediately, I started sending out interview and promo requests to the band. After the third attempt, someone finally got back to me. They arranged an email interview where I could freely ask questions regarding the new record. So, one Sunday after sacrificing valuable football television, I typed up a comprehensive interview asking all of the important questions; "What's the new album like? When can I buy it? What label is distributing it?" After sending out the interview, I got absolutely no response at all. No answers, no reply. Nothing. Once again I was back in the dark.
In November of 2003 it was announded that "Halloween 4.0: Tales From The Crypt" was ready for purchase. The week before Thanksgiving I ordered my copy through Paypal. After several order checks and a million emails, the band finally decided to send my copy in the mail last week. That's right, last week! That was January 29, 2004! 60 days later they finally decide to send it out to me. What a bunch of cocky, arrogant BASTARDS!!!!
After all this time and effort put in to finally hear the NEW RECORD, which I just assumed would be the new album since "The Fire Still Burns" never came out and this was considered a new album from the website, that I would at least be satisfied with the material. After pulling it out of the envelope, I discovered that I had paid $15 for a regular CDR with some bogus artwork that I could have created better on Adobe software.
Not only is the packaging terrible, I now own a GREATEST HITS PACKAGE of sorts!! That's right, this is just simply a collection of re-recorded tracks taken from their previous three albums, "No One Gets Out", "Don't Metal With Evil", and "Victims Of The Night" with FOUR new songs. Yeah, count'em sucker, FOUR new songs.
Needless to say I'm fairly frustrated with my purchase. What the hell does this band think they are pulling here? After almost two years the new album isn't coming out, and instead we get a greatest hits package. Unbelievable. Well, lets just move on to the material....
The new tracks here are "Fighting Words", which is a complete Pantera groove romp with no "classic metal feel". "Lights, Camera, Action" takes the listener back to a more classic feel, but this one really doesn't come close to the prime Halloween sound we adore so much. The band has the nerve to put another new song on here called "Fire Still Burns" (the horror!) which is actually a pretty good tune, combining tons of great classic shredding and some great vocals from one Brian Thomas. The fourth new track is "Die Forever", which is another decent offering. The weird thing is that all four tracks aren't really a consistent sound, so I just assume that all four were written in different periods of time...with that I mean years apart from each other!
Now, on to the newly re-recorded "classic" Halloween tracks. The band has basically taken a modern approach to their old songs, redoing them in a stripped down, fuzzy guitar sound, with Brian Thomas refusing to hit any of the high notes he is so good at. The drums sound very garage like and the whole effort is rather "doomy and grinding" rather than flashy and classic. The end result...well, I actually enjoy these new takes.
The group have managed to do what few can....they have taken the old tracks and set them apart. These newly recorded versions really seem more cold and haunting to me. For instance "Tales From The Crypt", taken from the act's famous "Don't Metal With Evil" is very different than its early version. 80's "Tales From The Crypt" hits the high notes, with a classic shine to it and much more flash added on the production end. Basically, the 80s feel you got from bands like Malice and Keel. This 2003 version of the track is much more sinister sounding, with Thomas vocally sounding dark and much more sadistic.
Take away the flash and dash feel the band had and replace it with frosty, haunting waves of sound made famous by bands like Sentenced. The same can be said for other classics like "Welcome", "7 Years" and a majority of the other re-recordings on this collection. With heavier, thrash songs like "Crawl To The Altar", the band has focused on a more aggressive, heavier take ala Pantera or Machine Head, which doesn't really fit well here. I think the band should focus their efforts on less heavy, more dramatic pieces that "haunt" the listener. Lets face it, this band can sound rather eerie at times, especially on albums like "No One Gets Out" and "Victims Of The Night", with their horror-themed songwriting and ghost in the fog imaging.
This collection isn't what I wanted, but I did get a few new songs and some decent takes on past glory. The listener really can set these songs apart from each other and listen to either one depending on the listener's mood, which is a rare thing really. I want a new album and I want it now. In the meantime, this is all we get!
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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