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Damn this is catchy! - 74%

gasmask_colostomy, March 26th, 2018

A new Helloween album usually brings with it a surge of nostalgia and expectation, coupling together the band’s position as one of the founders of European power and speed metal back in the ‘80s and their role as consistent producer of said Euro power metal ever since. Having been on a very solid streak since 2007’s Gambling with the Devil, you could anticipate the quality of My God-Given Right almost exactly, knowing that you are likely to hear exuberant, fun, and catchy metal from the moment you press play. And kudos to Helloween, because that’s exactly what you get and - although recognizable - there’s still room for some surprises.

Two things stand out about this album compared to other Helloween releases: guitars and catchiness. The aforementioned Gambling with the Devil ushered in a new era of heaviness and modernity for the Germans, incorporating muscular guitars, some semi-extreme rhythm work, and a directness that has remained in the band’s repertoire ever since. My God-Given Right follows that trend, crunching guitars storming out of the opening track ‘Heroes’ and afflicting most of the other songs here, with particularly brutish riffing on ‘Claws’, ‘The Swing of a Fallen World’, and ‘Russian Roulé’. Opting to put big fat riffs at the front of the sound also means that lots of songs get straight to the point, meaning we get all the way to the ninth song without exceeding five minutes, which is rare for Helloween. That said, this is certainly the most melodic and simplistic the Germans have sounded since way back on Better Than Raw, 20 years ago, so there's a bit of a shift in focus in that respect.

However, those concise and melodic songs prove to be packed with a fair bit of content too, ‘Russian Roulé’ proving irresistible in the slick transition between punchy riff, quickfire vocals, and a cheeky melody. ‘Lost in America’ and ‘If God Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll’ prove similarly fun and all three include choruses you’re unlikely to forget without brain surgery. Most of the songs are simple enough to remember quickly and include plenty of nice vocal and instrumental ideas, but Helloween importantly provide a few more detailed pieces to give the album staying quality. ‘The Swing of a Fallen World’ goes off the beaten track both structurally and atmospherically, while the closing ‘You, Still of War’ is climactic in the same way as ‘Far in the Future’ from 7 Sinners, not to mention space for musical expansion during ‘Creatures in Heaven’ and ‘Claws’.

As such, the album has enough variety and classy moments to make its 61 minute runtime acceptable, although some of the ideas feel typical for Helloween, especially concerning choruses and solos in the more traditional power metal songs. One would have hoped for more from Michael Weikath, since he contributes only one song and the solos aren’t all high points as one might expect. Andi Deris has been around enough to sound in control of his voice, though his contribution is more successful on the faster-paced and heavier songs, struggling slightly during ‘Creatures in Heaven’ and ‘Like Everybody Else’, the former of which has a slower chorus and the latter being the only ballad. That one ballad is well-positioned, right in the middle of the album, and the playlist is actually very important to making a slightly overlong album feel breezy and energetic. Thus, My God-Given Right is about as good an album as Helloween could have produced without risking disappointment by changing things too much. A lot of fun.

Originally written in edited form for Metalegion magazine #2 - www.metalegion.com