Thirty years ago, Helloween’s Walls Of Jericho helped to lay the foundation for the European power metal scene. The next two records, the two-part Keeper Of The Seven Keys, cemented their status as gods amongst the melodic metal mortals, and every one of these pumpkins’ records since live in the shadow of those first three.
Which is a bummer, since the Deris-fronted Helloween has now lasted three times as long as the Kiske-fronted “classic” line-up, and they’ve released some remarkably solid albums like The Dark Ride, Gambling With The Devil, and 7 Sinners. 2013’s Straight Out Of Hell was another notch in the band’s belt, not as great as their best (arguably Gambling), but far removed from their worst (inarguably Unarmed). Straight saw them paring back the heavier riffs of 7 Sinners, but still bringing great songs like the historical epic “Nabatea” and the title track.
My God-Given Right furthers the trends of Straight Out Of Hell, except that it’s a lesser version. When it’s good, it’s good enough – Helloween can always be counted upon to bring a few catchy, speedy winners – and when it’s weak, it’s utterly forgettable. In the former category fall tunes like the power metal wonder of “Battle’s Won,” the (semi-)epic title track, and the goofy fun of “Lost In America.” But it’s an album split down the middle – as Right soldiers into its second half, it drops off considerably in quality. From “The Swing Of A Fallen World” onward, there’s nothing particularly great–a few decent power metallers like “Claws” and some schlock like “If God Likes Rock ‘N’ Roll,” none of which move the dial.
Here, as with any Helloween album released since Deris’ arrival in 1994, the songs are ultimately the only difference in one record and the next – Weiki and Sascha rip through their riffs and solos with ease; new-kid drummer Dani Löble, now in his tenth year with the band, keeps the proceedings moving with Helloween’s signature spirited energy. Andi Deris may not have quite the golden throat as his predecessor, but I’ve always dug Deris’ voice – he brings just enough of a snarl, adding a sharper edge to the ‘Ween’s soaring, melodic power metal.
In the patheon of modern Helloween, My God-Given Right is on the down side of average – it’s not as bland as Rabbit Don’t Come Easy, nor as good as the others mentioned above. It’s certainly respectable, and longtime fans will enjoy it enough to make it worthwhile, but for any newcomers or casual fans, it’s not the best place to jump (back) in. Several good songs amongst some clunkers, this one’s unlikely to be anyone’s favorite Helloween record, but it’ll get the job done until the next one…
And also, just what the hell is going on with that album art?