My relationship with Andi Deris has been rocky over the years – not that we’ve ever met or even talked, but I think I’ve carried a grudge for two decades, and I just never got used his singing. It’s also probably because I’m one of the original Michael Kiske fanboys – my first European power metal albums were Keepers Of The Seven Keys I & II, and after seeing that lineup live three times in the late ‘80s, I may have considered Michi, Kai, Michael, Markus, and Ingo as demigods. I even forgave them for Chameleon, which took a lot.
Unfortunately, when Master of the Rings came out in 1994, public internet was fairly limited and HELLOWEEN didn’t get much coverage in U.S. magazines, so I was not aware of the lineup change. I eagerly bought the new album, took it home, and was stunned to hear this strange voice coming out of my speakers that was most certainly NOT Michael Kiske. I was outraged. And thus, it began…
I should point out that I do enjoy a few songs off of every HELLOWEEN album from the last twenty years and could make a really nice personal greatest hits disc from them, but I’ve never really enjoyed entire albums – until now, that is. I asked The Maestro very nicely if I could review My God-Given Right (June 2, Nuclear Blast Records); why, I don’t know. Could have been intuition, or it could have just been the sadistic side of the Curmudgeonly Hipster. I was more than pleasantly surprised with what hit my ears, and found the fourth HELLOWEEN album that I enjoy fully from start to finish.
This is a fun record – a lot of the songs are musically upbeat and have a really classic power metal sound, like “Battle’s Won”, “Stay Crazy”, ”Lost In America”, and “Creatures In Heaven”. “God Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll” is one of the typical offbeat and slightly crazy tracks that have always made the band fun. I even found myself enjoying the darker and more serious tracks like “The Swing Of A Fallen World”, “Like Everybody Else”, “Living On The Edge”, and “You, Still Of War”. I absolutely love the title track, “My God-Given Right” – it’s upbeat, dark, anthemic, and defiant, all at the same time. “Russian Roulé” is a fun track, but it drives me slightly nuts, because roulé is French for roll, not roulette, and I’m pretty sure that being “Russian rolled” is not a thing. Nitpicking is fun!
For some reason, though, I didn’t really feel it with “Claws”, at least not yet. It’s a decent track, but it feels a little generic. I’m not sure what it is, but that song is the only track that I could call disappointing on this release, despite the very excellent double solo from Michael and Sascha. It’s not a bad song; I just don’t get it.
So, anyway – Andi, all is forgiven. I may even go back and give a few of the recent releases another chance as full albums. My God-Given Right is the best album from HELLOWEEN over the last two decades, and this is one that’s going into regular rotation in my listening queue. Thank you, Michael, Markus, Andi, Sascha, and Dani– I needed this.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “My God-Given Right”, “Battle’s Won”, “Lost In America”, “Like Everybody Else”, “Living On the Edge”