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Helstar - Black Wings of Solitude

Black Wings of Solitude
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 04 October 2020, 7:13 AM

HELSTAR is a  heavy/power/speed metal band from Houston, Texas formed way back in 1981. “Black Wings of Solitude,” is a song from their next full length album.  This single also comes with a killer cover as well. When I joined Metal Temple in 2016, HELSTAR was one of the first bands who I had the pleasure of reviewing.  I had never heard of them before but was blown away by what was then their new album “Vampiro.”  So when this new single/EP  “Black Wings Of Solitude,” came across the promo desk, I jumped at the chance to review it.

The single is a seven minute long song that is slower paced than a lot of the other stuff they have done in the past.  I can see how someone might consider is a ballad but it is actually rather heavy in places, with some solid riffs.  Despite its slower tempo, the song is rather emotional and biting.  Across the seven minutes, I never once found myself getting bored or wondering when it was going to end—it actually doesn’t even feel like it is all that long.

The song begins with some ambient noises and low key symphonic touches before the clean guitar sets in and a moving guitar solo.  As it fades out, vocalist James Rivera’s wonderful clean vocals come in with some catchy vocal lines.  The guitars kick in fully and bring with them mid paced riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place on an old school doom metal album.  The middle portion of the song is divided by a great guitar solo and some solid drumming—Michael Lewis is definitely a beast behind the kit, even with a ballad type song.  Towards the end of the song, Garrick Smith’s melodic bass highlights the rest of the song and helps bring everything to the front.

I really appreciated the cover of BLACK SABBATH’s “After All (The Dead)”.  Most bands would choose to cover something from the band’s Ozzy-era but HELSTAR opted for the DIO-era instead.  Even then, they didn’t choose a song from one of the more famous albums from that time but instead “Dehumanizer.”  I just found the selection refreshing as I’d rather here this cover than “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” for the 10,000th time.

And to top it off, the cover is damn good.  James Rivera doesn’t try to emulate DIO’s vocal style but instead does his own style—and it injects very well into the doom metal style song. Musically, the song is about the same but the band covers it well and, of course, it sounds heavier and more modern.  Andrew and Larry definitely display their chops on this cover, rivaling IOMMI himself. All in all, this is a decent little EP/single and has definitely made me very eager for HELSTAR’s next full length album.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Black Wings Of Solitude
2. After All (The Dead) (Black Sabbath cover)
Larry Barragan – Guitars
James Rivera – Vocals
Michael Lewis – Drums
Garrick Smith – Bass
Andrew Atwood - Guitars
Record Label: Massacre Records


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