Monday, June 8, 2015

Helloween "My God Given Right"

    After 30 years of being one of power metal's top acts, Helloween unleashes their fifteenth studio album titled, “My God Given Right." All pumpkin heads rejoice!
    The German speed/power metal pioneering lords have gone through various line-up changes over the years with Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf being the only two original members. However, the line-up of Michael Weikath on guitar, Markus Grosskopf on bass, Sascha Gerstner on second guitar, Daniel Löble on drums and Andi Deris on vocals, has been going strong for sometime now. Their last album, “Straight Out of Hell,” came out in 2013 and received overall favorable opinions from listeners. I myself believed the album was one of the band’s strongest releases, especially given their nineties work that I am not exactly a huge fan of. Ever since the mid 2000s I noticed the band's albums getting stronger and returning to the more heavy power metal style. I honestly believe Helloween has found a way to move forward and at the same time take the classic sound and incorporate it into the new music.
    “My God Given Right,” is defiantly a continuation from where the last album left off. Though I would not call this new album the disregarded, or b-side tracks from, “Straight Out of Hell.” There are a couple of songs that sounded a bit similar to ones on the previous album, but for the most part, this new album is an adrenaline shot of pure triumphant power metal.
    Most of the lyrics featured on this album reflect the topic of war and the effects of living in a world that is constantly on the brink of snapping. I believe the musicians in Helloween write this music with deep sincerity because they grew up in Germany during the Cold War. There are also songs that deal with non-war related topics like, “If God Loves Rock and Roll” and “Lost in America.” I really enjoyed, “Lost in America,” because the song is based off of an experience the band had once while on tour in the states. You might say they had a Spinal Tap moment with their flight. Overall, the lyrics are well written and can present strong messages, especially during the catchy chorus sections.
    Musically, this album is an example of what it takes to be an accomplished metal band. The compositions are always full of heavy quick moving guitar riffs, catchy melodic leads, thunderous rhythm sections, and perfectly placed vocal parts to compliment the overall sound. Also, there are some really dark Sabbath like riffs such as on the track titled, “Living on the Edge.” Another great part about that song is the lead guitar playing. Each note is perfectly captured as the guitarist moves around the fret board. I thought the production for this album was solid and prefer it over the band’s last album. Again, I thought the last album was a good release, but this new one seems to really capture the band's powerful and distinctive sound. 
    Other songs that I was impressed by are, “Stay Crazy,” “The Swing of the Fallen World,” “Creatures in Heaven,” and “Claws.” The dual guitar attack that has always made Helloween one of my favorite bands is extremely noticeable on this album. Their are those moments like on, “Lost in America” and “Creatures in Heaven,” where you can hear some Keeper of the Seven Keys era influence.
    My only minor complaints are with the two bonus tracks, "Wish I Were There" and "Wicked Game," which I thought seemed to be b-sides and recycled ideas. They are not horrible tracks, but definitely seem out of place compared to the rest of the songs on this album. For thirteen tracks minus the two bonus tracks, I think the band did a great job offering exciting cuts of power metal music. Yeah, the music can be a bit cheesy like the lyrics in the song, “Stay Crazy,” but that is what I like about Helloween. They just destroy with their fast paced uplifting melodic and sometimes aggressive sound.
    I think, “My God Given Right,” was a strong release from a veteran band of 30 years. So many bands in the power metal genre owe Helloween a huge thanks for always waving the flag and consistently putting out releases. Even if you are not a fan of certain past albums, you cannot deny this band's work ethic over the years. Fifteen albums down and this latest one shows the band still has some kick ass ideas left.
    If you are a fan of Helloween or high quality power metal music, you need to get this new album! Of course if you are a stubborn Helloween fan who thinks, “Walls of Jericho,” is the only Helloween album to need to stop being such a power metal punk elitist. This band is one of very few groups that has been able to put out solid sounding albums as they get older (The other being Accept, another iconic German metal band). After hearing this new Helloween album, I hope they have more music in store for all us crazy pumpkin heads!

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