Released: 2015, Nuclear Blast
Hard to believe, but MY GOD GIVEN-RIGHT is Helloween’s 15th studio album after more than thirty years together. I only recently got back into Helloween on 2013’s strong STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL album, having given the band about a 15 year break. The music was always strong, but after the god-like vocals of Kiske, I had a difficult time adjusting to Andi Deris (I know, get over it right). Anyways, I have gotten over it, and I am now back on board, ranking Deris songs like “Handful of Pain” and “Perfect Gentleman” as good as any amongst the Helloween catalog. Much like Trixter’s new album (not in style), Helloween has continued the template and momentum presented on their previous album, which means namely being more upbeat and dare I say, almost commercial in places.
Helloween puts their best foot forward, as the two opening tracks “Hero” and “Battle’s Won” are exceptional songs with the latter being the first single from the album and my favorite tune. Guitarist Michael Weikath has stated that Charlie Bauerfeind, who has been producing the band since THE DARK RIDE back in 2000, wanted them to approach the album with an 80s Helloween mindset. It’s the same approach that Rick Rubin took with Black Sabbath’s THIRTEEN, having the band go back to their 70s style but infusing it with some modern elements. The band has done that, adding happy major key melodies and radio-friendly tunes like “Stay Crazy.” Old-school fans will probably lament this, though most probably need to be reminded that “Dr. Stein” reached #10 on the German singles chart back in the day.
From Martin Häusler’s cover art, which is inspired by the film “The Day After Tomorrow”, to songs like “Lost In America” and the general accessibility of the album overall, there is the unmistakable feeling that the Weenies are courting the North American market once again. Who could blame them, as “I Want Out” was a regular feature on MTV and Helloween benefited from being included on some huge and lucrative tours. Weikath, in a bit of reverse psychology, seems to lend credence to this theory by stating in Blabbermouth that Helloween are not being influenced by what the American market dictates. Regardless, Helloween delivers epic and memorable choruses throughout the album along with melodic and tasteful guitar passages. “Like Everybody Else” is an unconventional ballad, not at all the type of ballad power metal bands usually offer. “Creatures In Heaven” has a melodic intro and festival-worthy chorus that helps keep things decidedly inspirational.
On an album of 13 songs, there are going to be a few weak moments, such as the rather pedestrian “If God Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll” and the uninspired closer, “Claws", to go along with the somewhat misplaced “Like Everyone Else.” Deris sounds great though, and the guitars of Weikath and Gerstner continue to be among the best of tandems in power metal. Helloween invented European power metal as we know it, so their legacy is intact. The band has matured and decided not to chase or play with the current leaders of the subgenre. Instead they have taken their own path, much as they did 30 years ago, and in doing so prove that they still have much to offer to those willing to cast aside any prejudices towards the band for lightening up their sound