Album Review: Helloween – “My God Given Right”
As a band, Helloween’s position in the annals of heavy metal history is perhaps overlooked. At a time when the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard were shattering sales records, Hamburg’s own fab five were busy establishing European style power-metal with the consecutive releases of Keepers of the Seven Keys Parts 1 and 2. The problem is, since then these founding fathers have found others not just catch-up, but overtake them for rawkus energy and machine-gun rhythms.
My God Given Right is the band’s fifteenth studio album and lands as these Germanic pioneers enter their 30th year, so it’s fair to say for metal fans this one is the musical equivalent of a comfy pair of old slippers. Slippers however, as many an ageing rocker will attest, are pretty darn funky. So before judging too hastily, let’s separate the wheat from the… 3D lenticular artwork.
The first six tracks on offer feel like Helloween of old, as the band take a base template of Iron Maiden, pin on some go faster stripes and embellish with a touch of Slavic finery. In particular Heroes, Battle’s Won and Stay Crazy all lean towards the group’s triumphs as stabs of up tempo, lyrically positive, bludgeon riffola.
From there on in though, it becomes a bumpier ride. The tracks grow longer, the concepts more entrenched and the results more varied. The Swing of A Fallen World and Claws are black, aggressive, meaty affairs, much darker in tone that a lot of Helloween’s recent output. Conversely, If God Loves Rock n’ Roll finds Helloween channeling the pop-metal madness of fellow German’s Edguy. “Even in Heaven you need a bass guitar!!” is a line straight from the Tobias Sammet songbook.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too critical. Whilst My God Given Right definitely loses its way in the second half, it does so on material that tries to break free from the pumpkin shaped mould. Overall, not one to rush out and purchase, but a cosy evening in all the same.