'My God Given Right'
Helloween return with their fifteenth studio album, 'My God Given Right', and it's a cracking listen which is full of all the ingredients that make this band the unique entity that they are.
The Weenies first came to prominence in this country by opening the now infamous 1988 Donington Monsters Of Rock festival. Younger readers now know this event as Download Festival but back then it was one day, six bands and there was nothing else like it anywhere else in Britain.
Iron Maiden headlined that day in early August with the then unknown Helloween opening the day as a fair percentage of the 106,000 crowd were still filing in. Guns N' Roses followed them, then Megadeth, Dave Lee Roth, Kiss and then Maiden. Steve Harris was later "told off" by Kerrang! magazine for continually wearing a Helloween t-shirt in their pages and 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II' became a big success in the UK, and deservedly so.
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A good portion of the band's live set is still, almost thirty years since their releases, made up of material from the 'Keeper...' series and talk has been rife for some years now that the original line-up that recorded those two opusses would be reuniting at some point.
My opinion on this has always been that while possibly being commercially sensible, it would be a terrible and disastrous move artistically as Andi Deris, vocalist of over twenty years standing, possesses far more ability that his predecessor and the band's ultimate classic album (in my opinion), 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy' from 2005, is head and shoulders above everything else they have ever turned out, excluding debut album 'Walls Of Jericho' which is probably the ultimate speed Metal album of all time and completely different in style to all other Helloween albums.
Along with Blind Guardian, who at the time were intimately connected to Helloween anyway, they set a "trend" and created a new niche with 'Walls...' and the two bands are wholly responsible for the creation of German speed Metal. And both bands quickly changed style and went on to further uniqueness with subsequent offerings, Helloween producing the now classic 'Keeper...' albums.
It all started to go a little pear-shaped after 'Keeper II' though with significant line-up changes and a couple of questionable albums but with Deris on board, the future panned out rather nicely indeed, 'Legacy...' being the definitive and consummate Helloween album.
They've released 'Gambling With The Devil' (2007), '7 Sinners' (2010) and 'Straight Out Of Hell' (2013) since 'Legacy' (Keeper 3) and while those albums were good in their own right, they never quite hit the dizzy heights of skilled songsmanship that 'Legacy' did but 'My God Given Right' pretty much does just that.
The band seem to have grown in stature and musical maturity with this album and you'll find within its tracklisting some seriously great tunes which stand up easily as some of the best in Helloween's extensive catalogue.
Memorable tunes, great riffs, standout melodies and fabulous production all combine to make this one of the top releases of 2015 so far and the standard is set straight away with opener 'Heroes', which sees Deris in superb form as he carries this tune magnificently while 'Battle's Won' displays trademark Helloween "Happy Metal" in full swing. It's a magnificent tune and an instantly memorable and uplifting chorus.
There's the full, official video for the title track below so you can have a good listen to that right on this page and it continues the whole musical theme of the album, as does 'Stay Crazy' with its glorious singalong chorus.
One thing that Andi Deris totally excels in is pulling off a high pitched chorus without sounding like somebody trod on the cat's tail. Helloween's sound has always depended on a frontman who can pull off not just the high notes but the high verses and choruses as well and Andi has made himself indispensable in this department.
'Keeper...' devotees, especially those who haven't realised that Helloween have done much more since, will undoubtedly point out the musical similiarities between 'Lost In America' and 'Future World' but this is actually one of my favourite tracks on the whole album with it's sweeping guitar solo and yet another extremely memorable chorus while 'Russian Roulé' continues the uplifting mood.
'The Swing Of A Fallen World' briliantly demonstrates that Helloween have a lot more in their armoury though as its a serious comment on the state of the world today. We all know that Andi has a big social conscience from his 'Bad Bankers' project of 2013 and here it is again, prominent on 'My God Given Right', along with 'Like Everybody Else', another serious track that tackles some common social topics of today.
'Creatures In Heaven' takes us right back to the uplifting style that we all know and love and I'm sure I heard a keyboard lurking in the chorus. It enhances rather than dominates though and there's some rather good key changes in this track, as there is on 'If God Loves Rock N' Roll'. Well surely he does, right? Don't forget that this is the band who defeated the Devil by throwing a key into a sea so he absolutely must do.
Andi Deris at London's Kentish Town Forum the last time the band played here in April 2013
The radio friendly 'Living On The Edge' and 'Claws' both contain massive riffs which are both "growers" and both utilise those massive guitar harmonies that are so prominent in the band's sound and final track, 'You, Still Of War', is the album's "epic". It's the longest song on the album at 7.21 and keeps your interest right until the end, as does the whole album.
So here's a band who created a very unique style before its time and then changed it completely and went on to develop into their own entity. They're still turning out great tunes today and this is easily their best album for years.
There will always be a fair percentage of people who refuse to see past 'Keeper...' though and that is a massive shame because they're missing out on some excellent music.
If this line-up was to re-record the original two 'Keeper...' albums in their entirety, it would surely quash all silly talk of a reunion. We don't need that reunion because Helloween cannot possibly find a better frontman than Andi Deris and there is no possible way that they could be any better without him. The songwriting and performance would suffer dramatically and the band's future growth would be irreparably damaged.
Future world is all about developing this sound and style even further and not regressing backwards into a world of fantasy. That would most definitely be a tale that wasn't right.
The band made a killer music video for 'My God-Given Right', which features some stunning post-apocalyptic visuals which you can watch below.
Director Oliver Sommer (AVA Studios) comments on the video: "The story tells itself with the first look on the artwork: it seems to be a film still and you only have to press the play-button... so the female protagonist flees - reminiscences to different (post) apocalyptic films and stories are deliberated - from an army of robotic pumpkin soldiers through an empty world.
"On the other side, the band performs in frightfully beautiful, rocked out ambience. When the tough girl realises that she won't escape, she turns around and kills her chasers with a grenade which looks like the torch from the Statue of Liberty... it is immersed in snow on the cover artwork and in sand in the clip."
'My God Given Right' was recorded between October 2014 and February 2015 at the band's very own MiSueno Studio in Tenerife, with long term producer Charlie Bauerfeind (Blind Guardian, Hammerfall) handling production and recording duties.
1 Heroes 3:53
2 Battle's Won 4:53
3 My God Given Right 3:30
4 Stay Crazy 4:04
5 Lost In America 3:35
6 Russian Roulé 3:52
7 The Swing Of A Fallen World 4:53
8 Like Everybody Else 4:03
9 Creatures In Heaven 6:36
10 If God Loves Rock N' Roll 3:20
11 Living On The Edge 5:19
12 Claws 5:52
13 You, Still Of War 7:21
1 I Wish I Were There 4:11
2 Wicked Game 3:56
3 Free World 3:34
4 Nightmare 4:42
5 More Than A Lifetime 3:56
Metal Talk's Mark Taylor recently spoke to vocalist Andi Deris and guitarist Michael Weikath about the release of 'My God Given Right' and here's the interview in full...
Confirmed Tour Dates:
2015-06-12 Spain, Pamplona, Sala Totem
2015-06-13 Spain, La Coruna, Coliseum
2015-06-20 Italy, Natz, Alpen Flair
2015-06-29 Serbia, Belgrade, Kalemegdan Park
2015-06-30 Bulgaria, Sofia, Arena Armeec
2015-07-01 Romania, Bucharest, Romexpo
2015-07-17 Hungary, Dunaujvaros, Rockmaraton 2015
2015-07-24 Spain, Barcelona, Rock Fest
2015-07-25 Czech-Republic, Liberec, Benatska
2015-07-26 Spain, Madrid, Auditorio M Rios
2015-08-07 Sweden, Gavle, Getaway Rock Festival
2015-08-08 Germany, Loreley, Rockfels
2015-08-23 Poland, Cieszanow, Cieszanow Rock Festival
2015-08-29 Russian-Federation, Moscow Metal Meeting
2015-10-10 Japan, Tokyo, Loudpark '15
2015-10-14 Australia, Melbourne, 1780 Russell
2015-10-16 Australia, Sydney, Metro Theatre
2015-10-17 Australia, Brisbane, Max Watt's
2015-10-19 Australia, Adelaide, The Gov
2015-10-20 Australia, Perth, Capitol
2015-11-13 Wales, Phllheli, Hard Rock Hell
2016-02-22 USA, Miami, Monsters Of Rock Cruise
2016-02-23 USA, Miami, Monsters Of Rock Cruise
2016-02-24 USA, Miami, Monsters Of Rock Cruise
2016-02-25 USA, Miami, Monsters Of Rock Cruise
Andi Deris (vocals)
Michael Weikath (guitar)
Markus Grosskopf (bass)
Sascha Gerstner (guitar)
Daniel Löble (drums)