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Their Battle's Won - 87%

Larry6990, June 7th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak, 3D cover)

Quirky, goofy, heavy, catchy, fun-loving, bombastic. All can apply to the newest release from the godfathers of power metal, Germany's own Helloween. I feel this band should be exempt from cynical scrutiny regarding their newest releases. Let's face it, they're never 'bad'. At best, they're momentous ("7 Sinners")- at worst, they're just run-of-the-mill ("Rabbit Don't Come Easy"). 2015's "My God-Given Right" doesn't quite reach the heights of the former, but it is nowhere near the standardness of the latter.

What we have here is the logical progression from 2013's "Straight Out of Hell". The two albums have plenty of similarities - the soaring choruses, quirky humour, occasional crunchy riffs etc. But subtle changes have begun to take place, and may possibly continue to advance through future releases. For example - the vicious riffs found on tracks like "World of War" and "You Stupid Mankind" have been considerably diluted. They still exist, such as on "Claws", but aren't as de-tuned or groovy as is possible. A shame really, as the contrast between Helloween's fluffy melodies and gritty riffage was rather refreshing. There is also a heavier emphasis on keyboards this time round - be they bombastic or simply ethereal, their presence is certainly more notable.

Thankfully, all the players are on the ball throughout "My God-Given Right". Dani's performance behind the kit contains less frantic double-kick attacks than on previous albums, but is still no less energetic and vibrant. Michael Weikath's wacky sense of humour comes across in droves, and is always welcome! What would Helloween be without this man's madness? Most importantly - Andi Deris' vocals are on top form, as usual. Deris must be one of the most consistent vocalists in metal - always able to let his falsetto soar among the clouds, whilst maintaining his gruff attitude in the lower register.

There are many peaks during "My God-Given Right" where the songwriting prowess shines. This album was mainly a collaborative effort - with multiple band-members contributing to each track. This results in the album never becoming drab or repetitive, despite its hour-long duration. The up-tempo power metal hymns like "Battle's Won" and "I Wish I Were There" punctuate between the mid-tempo rockers like "Stay Crazy" and "The Wicked Game". There are also a few welcome surprises in the shape of "The Swing of a Fallen World" - a brooding, dystopian crawl - and "Like Everybody Else" - the 'ballad' of the album, which sounds like no 'ballad' ever before!

The true highlights of this record lie in places where the humour and quirk shine through. The vocal lines in "Lost in America" are irresistible, the main riff of "Russian Roulé" absolutely explodes, the chorus to "Creatures in Heaven" is truly epic, and the entirety of the title-track absolutely reeks of Kiske-era Helloween (dare I mention his name?!). In terms of structure, the only disappointment is the opener, "Heroes"; the main riff is very run-of-the-mill, the chorus is nothing spectacular, and the tempo simply trots along at a comfortable pace. Deris and the boys would've been better leaving this on the cutting room floor and opening with "Battle's Won".

However - this is the complaint of a chihuahua nibbling on the ankles of Godzilla. The German legends' newest album is an enjoyable romp through European power metal 101. It may not be a brief affair, but there is so much quality within the quantity, it's hard to complain. Sure the lyrics may be dumb, but when are European power metal lyrics ever philosophical or life-changing? Stick this in, turn your brain off and sing along. Loud.

Oh, and that artwork...yes.

"I sink my claws,
Into your flesh.
Tear it up,
Rip it all apart!"