During a recent Mike Tramp concert that I attended — I know that you are thinking “What does a gig by the ex-White Lion frontman have to do with a Helloween CD review?” but bare with me — Tramp was reminiscing back to the days of vinyl and record stores. He recalled fondly when people would wait hours outside a store in anticipation of a new release without having heard even one song from the artist’s new album and the thrill of removing a vinyl record’s shrink-wrap and marvelling at the artwork before preparing in glee anticipation to listen to the record’s first note.
With the advent of the internet and advance singles, this era is definitely behind us. However, there are two bands — Iron Maiden and Helloween — that still bring that amazing era back to life for me. What sets these two groups apart is that they usually have amazing artwork for their album covers, they always provide interesting and detailed CD booklets, and they always seem to deliver the goods with each new release. Accordingly, when I received my copy of Helloween‘s My God-Given Right, and although I had already heard one song (I can’t remember which one), that (almost) same rush of excitement overtook me as I opened the CD package and quickly played the CD.
I usually do not comment on a band’s front cover album artwork but as usual, Helloween have provided a memorable cover which will no doubt make for a very cool backdrop during their live shows behind My God-Given Right. As indicated above, Helloween and Iron Maiden are probably the two long standing metal bands that I expect to and that do deliver the goods with each new release. Sure, some Helloween records are better than others and although I really like most of the songs on My God-Given Right, I find that the german metal band has released some stronger releases in the past with singer Andi Deris at the helm including 1995’s Master Of The Rings and 2000’s The Dark Ride.
Helloween have not reinvented the wheel with the songs on My God-Given Right. All of the things that they are known for are there including Deris‘ story telling singing at times (check out the verses of “Heroes” and “My God-Given Right”), the amazing guitar melodies and that Helloween “sound” which is tough to describe. If you like Helloween, odds are very good that you will like the first five tracks “Heroes”, “Battle’s Won”, “My God-Given Right”, “Stay Crazy” (complete with “Oooh oooh oooh oooh” sing along portions) and “Lost In America” because those songs are like a best of regarding everything that the group is known for. The beginning portion of “Stay Crazy” reminds me of Iron Maiden circa early 90s but aside from that it is classic Helloween. The sixth track “Russian Roulé” is really the first sign that Helloween are trying something a little different on My God-Given Right. The ballad “Like Everyone Else” starts off a little slowly but really picks up by the time the chorus comes along complete with what sound like an orchestra accompanying it.
Unfortunately, when a band includes fifteen tracks on a record (if you include the two bonus tracks), there are bound to be some weaker tracks that could have been omitted. My God-Given Right is no exception as the record closer “You. Still Of War” (which does have some good parts), the at times monotone “The Swing Of A Fallen World” and surprisingly the two bonus tracks “I Wish I Were There” (with its annoying chorus) and “Wicked Game” (with its disappointing verses) should have been left off the record. The rest of the tracks on My God-Given Right are decent but nowhere near as good as the first five songs. In that sense, My God-Given Right is very similar to Straight Out Of Hell in that both records are top heavy in terms of where the better tracks lie.
Overall, Helloween have once again delivered a strong record filled with the great melodies that you would expect from them. Although most of the tracks range from good to very good on My God-Given Right, there are no standout tracks that will likely make their way onto the band’s live set for years to come.
02. Battle’s Won
03. My God-Given Right
04. Stay Crazy
05. Lost In America
06. Russian Roulé
07. The Swing Of A Fallen World
08. Like Everybody Else
09. Creatures In Heaven
10. If God Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll
11. Living On The Edge
13. You. Still Of War
14. I Wish I Were There
15. Wicked Game
Andi Deris – vocals
Michael Weikath – guitars
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Sascha Gerstner – guitars
Dani Loble – drums
Matthias Ulmer – keyboards
Billy King – backing vocals
Olaf Senkbeil – backing vocals
Produced, engineered and mixed by Charlie Bauerfeind
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, July 2015
Official music video for the title track from Helloween’s fifteenth studio album, ‘My God-Given Right,’ out worldwide via Nuclear Blast Records. In Stores: h…