Archive for German Metal

Helloween – My God Given Right

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 14th June 2015 by mickbirchy

Helloween
My God Given Right
Heavy Metal/Power Metal
Released 29th May 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

Returning once again with their 15th studio record, Helloween go back to their roots of making just pure heavy metal music. It also marks the first time the band have released five consecutive studio albums with the same line-up, with Andi Deris on vocals, Michael Weikath & Sascha Gerstner on guitars, Markus Grosskopf on bass guitar and Dani Löble on the drums.  Also, with Charlie Bauerfeind producing this, it is sure to be a great record from them, as Charlie has produced some of my favourite Helloween records. Including the highly praised “Gambling with the Devil”.

The album opens strong with hard hitting, power metal songs like ‘Heroes’ and the title track ‘My God Given Right’.  Almost automatically you feel that punch. The standard power metal type sounds with Andi’s vocals just soaring above the production. The guitars sound great and the bass lines play nicely at the bottom of the tracks. Helloween have such a commanding presence to them and it shows in this album, with powerful choruses that have a sense of presence to them.  I have a feeling that the band just wanted to stick to the simple concept of making good old fashioned headbanging tunes and cut out any signs of pretense. So Helloween at their strongest then.  In my opinion it’s worked, as I feel this is one of their best albums in a while.

In saying that, though, I do have some niggling problems with this album.  Whilst the production is strong and the songs are well written, some of the songs on the latter half of the album are a little bland and have no real bite to them.  As a result I found myself skipping them upon repeated listens.  Also there is a feeling that maybe they’re trying too hard to recapture their sound from the 80’s, with the tone of “it worked back then, it’ll work now”. Nothing wrong in writing in a similar style but it feels like pandering to the “retro” crowd and if there’s anything I hate is music talking down to me.  I don’t know, the album comes off as formulaic, like if they stick to a certain pattern of writing it will sell. So it doesn’t feel 100% natural. Yet, I don’t think any of this was intentional, it’s just how it comes across.

Despite my problems, which you may not even have,  I still enjoy the album.  It has a lot of strong hooks and catchy melodies  The guitar solos are fun to listen to, and air guitar to. There are certainly the standout moments of the record: ‘Living On The Edge’ feels quite epic and ‘Lost In America’ has that radio friendly feel that I think would go down well with live crowds.  ‘If God Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is quite fun too.  Also, nothing is getting me more pumped lately than the album’s opener ‘Heroes’. So it is fair to say that this album has definitely caught my ears in the right way.

Is this another classic from Helloween? Have the rekindled their spark from the early days? Well… Yes and no. Whilst the album is soaked in nostalgic tones and the songs are fun.  I mean if you’re a fan of old school Helloween, then I say yes, go and buy this album, and more than likely you already have. Yet, the average person who’s only familiar with the band in passing, may find that it will rub them the wrong way, with the formulaic sound and pandering tone.  So, my final verdict. I like it. It’s fun and it’s good to hear another Helloween album. My problems with it don’t bother me so much that it ruins the listening experience. I would say it’s worth at least a listen. If you like what you hear from the tracks I suggested then I say go buy it.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

Wolfchant – Call of The Black Winds [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 10th March 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Wolfchant
Album: Call Of The Black Winds
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Viking Metal/Black Metal/Folk Metal/Pagan Metal

Teutonic metal sextet “Wolfchant” are back with their newest release “Call of The Black Winds”.

The first track of the album, “Black Winds Rising (Prelude)” is an entirely orchestral track which eases the listener into an epic sounding atmosphere. “Stormwolves” comes blasting in straight after with a heavier-than-rock guitar riff, which sounds somewhat piratey. The vocals are a mix of black metal styled screams and aggressive death metal grunts, which adds a certain epic element to the track. The drums are well played as well and they seem to fit in well with the guitars.  The next track is “Eremit”, which is German for “Hermit”. It begins with a slow but heavy guitar intro mixed with keyboards and drums. The pace of the guitar and drums soon increases whilst the keyboard carries on its epic medley. The vocals soon make an appearance, grunting German lyrics which just adds aggressiveness to the track. The use of keyboards on this track helps keep the epic feeling flowing.

“Black Wind” is the next track. It begins with a fast-paced military styled drum beat which is soon replaced by heavy guitars, drums and aggressive vocals.  The lyrics speak of gods and spirits, which brings an epic-meets-fantasy-meets-metal kind of feel. The use of bass-sounding clean vocals  seems to give the track more “oomph”. The clean vocals certainly work brilliantly well with the harsher vocals. The use of keyboards towards the end of the track just makes this track complete. “Naturgewalt”, which is German for “Force of Nature” comes after, beginning with an aggressive yet epic guitar and keyboard intro. The drums seem somewhat heavier than the previous tracks – though they have been pretty heavy on the previous tracks. The aggressive vocals keep up the heaviness of the track. The clean bass-like vocals sound more aggressive on this track as well, almost as if the vocals were about to go into a battle. This track would have to be the best track on the album.

Next is “Heathen Rise” which begins with an epic, medieval styled keyboard intro, luring the listener into a state of calmness before the metal storm of heavy pounding guitars and drums make their appearance, followed by brutal sounding vocals. There is a use of clean vocals which sound slightly higher than the clean vocals on the previous tracks and they still work well with the harsher vocals. “Never Will Fall” comes next which begins with an epic keyboard intro, similar to that of the first track with what sounds to be some influence from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” soundtrack. The guitars soon follow, turning the track heavy. When the drums come in, the track turns even heavier. The track keeps a steady mixture of epic and brutality.

“‘Die Nacht Der Wölfe”, which means “Night of the Wolves” in German, is next. It begins with heavy intro that sounds oddly familiar. The use of German lyrics adds a certain epicness to the track. The drums seem to make this track heavier. Next is “The Last Farewell” which begins with an acoustic intro, setting a very folk-like atmosphere. The cleans vocals sound too deep to work well with the acoustic guitar. The track does turn heavy though, which suits the clean vocals much better. The lyrics create a very emotional mystique, almost emotional enough to bring a tear to the eyes. The use of an immense guitar solo just completes this track perfectly.

Straight after is “‘Der Stahl In Meinem Feinde” which means “The Steel In My Enemies” in German. The track begins with a dark sounding synth intro, creating a very gloomy atmosphere which is soon dispersed by the introduction of a brutal guitar riff. The vocals are on top form on this track. The track, itself, overall is somewhat similar to an old skool “Ensiferum” mixed with a hint of “Manowar” and “Hammerfall”. The final track, which is also the title track, “Call of the Black Winds” comes next to finish off the album. It begins with a mystical sounding synth intro before an epic guitar riff comes in to take over. The riff soon changes to something a bit more rough just before the vocals come in. There’s a use of acoustic guitars on this track as well, giving it a nice variety in terms of instrumentation.

“Call of the Black Winds” is one of the few brilliant albums out in today’s metal scene. With the use of keyboards and synths to set emotional atmospheres, combined with brutal guitars and drums and a powerful bass voice as well as the harsher vocals, “Call of the Black Winds” has the potential to get to the top and stay there for a while.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson