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Not breaking down any walls, but tons of fun. - 84%

Empyreal, August 13th, 2015

Let's just face it - Helloween has been treading water ever since Gambling with the Devil, producing decent albums like Straight Out of Hell that were too long and saddled with too much filler to really hit home. This one, called My God-Given Right, is a slight step up - if only in entertainment value if not actual innovation or album construction. Sporting a goofy 'concept' gleaned from the esoteric source of the 2003 Roland Emmerich film The Day After Tomorrow and another trademarked silly CGI cover, this is more of what you expect - but with a better set of songs than they've had in years.

There are a lot of songs here, running the gamut of the band's career with hard rocking silliness, ball-busting speed metal and a few epics. The production is fantastic - clear and heavy as a polished anvil - and all the band members are on point. Andi Deris in particular sounds great - try not to swoon when he opens up careening opener "Heroes" with those sultry, deeper vocals before swinging into his usual higher-pitched wailing. There are also some quite good riffs on this thing, and the guitarwork is very nimble, crunchy and tasty overall - especially on the album's most clever and dextrous moment "Creatures in Heaven" and the screaming metal onslaught "Claws." "Battle's Won" is an extremely charming song, complete with crunchy, pounding riffs and warm keys. The title track is a shameless pop-metal tune tailored for a Nuclear Blast video, but it's tight as a Boy Scout expert knot and catchier than the flu, and on songs like "Stay Crazy" and "Lost in America," the band strips their sound down to its barest and most simple form, for a rather refreshing, breezy listen. "The Swing of a Fallen World" is heavier than a bag of bricks and has some of the best vocal acrobatics on the album - it shows how cool Helloween can be, as does the spry, biting hard rocker "Living on the Edge." Even closing epic "You, Still of War" manages to grow on you after a few listens, with a kick ass pre-chorus section in particular and some sweet keyboards.

Despite the huge number of songs, the album is consistently entertaining and there are no dead spots this time around - although, frankly, there is nothing to rival their streak of brilliance from albums like Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy or Gambling, either. But an album full of four-star songs is still worth listening to, and if the band can keep up this level of quality a few more years, I'll be happy to stay a fan. I think the time when these guys were really relevant as genre innovators has passed, and I doubt they'll put out any more five-star classic albums at this point. But they seem comfortable with that, and the band sounds like they're having so much fun that it's hard not to get sucked into the fun right along with them.