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Helstar – Clad In Black

Clad In Black
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 01 February 2021, 6:50 AM

HELSTAR is a Texas based heavy metal band. I joined Metal Temple in 2016—their 10th full length "Vampiro" came out that year and was one of the first albums I reviewed. I enjoyed it then and still do so to this day. I've been hoping for another full length but no such luck yet. Last year, the band put out a single entitled "Black Wings Of Solitude" which  also included a cover of BLACK SABBATH's "After all (the dead)." The song is solid and the cover was decent as well—but I was left with wanting more.

Flash forward to 2021 and February will see the release of this compilation entitled  "Clad In Black." It isnt another studio full length but it is a neat package especially if you're new to the band. The first disc comes with the aforementioned "Black Wings of Solitude," two more original songs and three covers including the SABBATH one of which I spoke earlier of. The second disc is the "Vampiro" album. If you're a fan of honest to god straight up heavy metal then I highly suggest it. Despite their years and years of existence, the band remains in top form with youthful exuberance.

For those who already own "Vampiro," the first disc is worth the price of admission. "Black Wings Of Solitude," is what some might call a ballad but it rocks well enough. The melody is great and the chorus is catchy. What's not to like? “Incarnation (Mother Of The Night)," is one badass song. The opening is bass heavy and gothic in nature.  The riffs kick in and the song is gets nasty and sinister.  Front man James Rivera continues to have a voice that could melt paint and wake the dead—-age means nothing to this guy.

Once again, the chorus will be stuck in your head for days. At 4:23 the tempo kicks up  a few notches and the band pushes through like a freight train. "Across The Raging Sea," is a more melodic song. James' vocals are very strong here and the drums are super tight and crisp. The songs mid portion is one part guitar solo and another part speed. The highlight is when James' voice goes nuclear for an ultra high note that blends into the guitar.

I don't judge bands on cover songs but the ones here are serviceable.  They wont blow anyone away but each one definitely sounds like Helstar had a blast working on them. Ultimately this is a great complication album for new and old fans alike. I hope they have another full length out soon!

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

4 Star Rating

Disc 1

1. Dark Incarnation (Mother of the Night)
2. Black Wings of Solitude
3. Across the Raging Seas
4. Restless and Wild (Accept cover)
5. After All (The Dead) (Black Sabbath cover)
6. Sinner (Judas Priest cover) 07:05

Disc 2

1. Awaken unto Darkness
2. Blood Lust
3. To Dust You Will Become
4. Off with His Head
5. From the Pulpit to the Pit
6. To Their Death Beds They Fell
7. Malediction
8. Repent in Fire
9. Abolish the Sun
10. Black Cathedral
11. Dreamless Sleep
Larry Barragan – Guitars
James Rivera – Vocals
Michael Lewis – Drums
Garrick Smith – Bass
Andrew Atwood - Guitars
Record Label: Massacre Records


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