When power metal is good, it’s impossible to listen to without smiling. And the first time you crank up ‘My God-Given Right,’ the fifteenth album by German veterans HELLOWEEN, the grin that traverses your face will be so immense it’ll hurt your cheeks. It’s a colossal, big time party record full of deliriously upbeat old school metal with choruses designed for huge crowds quaffing steins of beer in European fields. And when we say ‘old school,’ we mean it. If it wasn’t for the modern production qualities, this could have been recorded in 1987 and then immediately thrown into a vortex to plummet through time before emerging fully formed and just as fresh today. It’s also incredibly cheesy but that’s part of the appeal. Why would anyone use the lyric “as fresh as a daisy” in a metal song? Because it rhymes with “we wanna stay crazy,” of course.
With duelling guitars, high pitched booming vocals and songs about how all of us are heroes, HELLOWEEN are so deeply uncool they’re awesome. In fact they’re so unconcerned about current trends it wouldn’t be surprising if they created this for the sole purpose of embarrassing their teenage daughters. ‘If God Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll’ for example is completely ludicrous. It’s a track that KISS would consider leaving off the set list for being too over the top, while ‘Like Everybody Else’ is a bombastic and overbearing semi-ballad. It’s a grandiose mid-album highlight that brings to mind endless stacks of Marshall Amplifiers blaring power chords into the night and despite being one of the more subdued offerings, still has enough force behind it to run a fusion reactor.
The only downside of all this unabashed enthusiasm is that it does get a bit draining after eleven songs and consequently, the first half is definitely the most fun. ‘Battle’s Won,’ ‘Russian Roule’ and the title track are all anthemic slices of high pomp joy, but the best cut is probably ‘Lost In America.’ This based-on-truth tale of flight delays and tour mishaps would make a killer single and even in today’s world of free streams and illegal downloads, should help them shift a few units. That said if you’re not already convinced that power metal is brilliant, this won’t be the album that changes your mind. It’s also not their best, but the ‘Keeper Of The Seven Keys’ duo cast a big shadow. However, it’s still very, very good and it’s only when they get to the closing ‘You, Still Of War’ that HELLOWEEN start to get a bit more restrained. For the rest of the time, their hearts are firmly set on rocking out and it’s hard not to get swept along with them. Plus, if any of you reading this are fathers already, this is a perfect album to have playing out the car windows when you pick your kids up from school. They’ll hate you for it.
It’s a colossal, big time party record full of deliriously upbeat old school metal with choruses designed for huge crowds quaffing steins of beer in European fields.