Sound — 5
For the first time in the band's history, Helloween have managed to keep the same lineup over the course of five studio albums. It may not seem like such a strong accomplishment to some, but the end result that's found on the band's newly released studio album "My God-Given Right" is surely the evidence of one of the more cohesive units to emerge during Helloween's longevity.
What we find throughout "My God-Given Right" is a band more comfortable with playing to their strengths and not being afraid to occasionally take a step towards the beaten path. There is a wealth of nostalgic Helloween elements to be found throughout the effort, such as the vaguely Iron Maiden-esque "Heroes" which opens up the album to the cues of battle drums and soaring synthesizer arrangements, however the band makes what appears to be a conscious effort to keep a strong noose on the heavier approach found on such recent studio albums as 2013's "Straight Out of Hell." This compilation of elements begin to surface on the ferocious "Battle's Won," which if not for the assertive melodies could almost easily pass for an outtake from Accept's recording sessions for "Blind Rage."
The title track "My God-Given Right" introduces a galloping pace highlighted by crunching chord progressions and a commendable vocal performance from frontman and "Voice Commander" Andi Deris. It's around this point where the album begins to feel like a loose collection of singles as opposed to one solid offering as we come across "Stay Crazy," which sounds like a deranged song from the Sweet. "Lost in America" once again changes the vibe with a straightforward heavy metal attitude highlighted by an overtly melodic refrain, before we revert back to a rhythm-focused travel through Alice's Wonderland on "Russian Roulette."
Amongst all of the clutter is one of the album's true highlights, "The Swing of a Fallen World," which enforces cataclysmic scenarios while grueling war chants and concrete bass lines paint the picture of a world gone mad. If only it was the same case throughout the remainder of the effort. As we head past the relaxed power ballad "Like Everyone Else" and the similarly lighthearted "Creatures in Heaven," the common thread is that although the musicianship is solid, if the distortion pedal was active for the otherwise sizeable guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gertsner then this wouldn't be able to pass for a heavy metal album, especially by Helloween standards.
"If God Loves Rock 'N' Roll" is more in line with an anthemic Scorpions number than a Helloween tune, yet is inconsequentially one of the more impressive tracks to be found on "My God-Given Right." If such tracks as "If God Loves Rock 'n' Roll" and "The Swing of a Fallen World" were paired alongside similarly-minded tracks, and not what is featured throughout the majority of this installment, then this would have been a rather solid installment.
Lyrics — 7
If this latest Helloween album has failed, it's in no way the fault of lead vocalist Andi Deris. The frontman is five decades old and still produces explosive primal screams and death metal growls as if it were no challenge at all. Deris does exactly what the singer should do in a situation where you have an album of assorted styles and genres compiled together, and he ties the entire performance together through his distinctive singing style. It's Deris' performance on "My God-Given Right" that makes the good moments great and the poor moments more tolerable for dedicated listeners.
Overall Impression — 5
Although the members of Helloween appear to be more comfortable working alongside one another over the course of their past five albums, what we find on their new effort "My God-Given Right" is a lack of clear direction. When the entire band is focused on formulating the type of energetic power metal one would expect from Helloween, the album takes flight rather effortlessly; it's during the remainder of the album that the listener is continuously underwhelmed by the performance.