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Helstar - Vampiro Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 21 November 2016, 3:17 AM

HELSTAR’S ninth studio album, “Vampiro,”,is one rager of an album.  The band takes the 80’s Classic Metal style, pumps it up on steroids, and shoves it through you so hard you’ll get whiplash from listening to this.  Fast guitars, pounding drums and pass, soaring (and searing) vocals…it’s all here on display.  Thrash, Power, Speed, Prog…the different sounds this album displays while still sounding cohesive is just mind boggling. James Rivera’s vocals are so great it’s almost insane.  The best way to describe him is a cross between Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, and a bit of Ripper Owens thrown in, because why not?  He might not have the complete range of those guys but he definitely has way more of a sinister edge to his voice.  His vocals on “From The Pulpit To The Pit” are especially energetic.  His vocals harken back to a more pure form of Metal and I thank him for that.

Larry Barragan and Andrew Atwood are an amazing guitar duo.  Often times they are playing so fast, so tight, that this album could also be looked as a speed metal album.  “To Their Death Beds They Fell” features riffs so fast, so tightly played, that it sounds more like the fluttering of bumblebee wings than guitars.  However, they don’t just play fast they can make actual meaty riffs as well.  This play style shines through on “Abolish The Sun”, featuring a thick, crushing riff that goes into groove metal territory during the chorus. If you can listen to the beginning riffs of “Awaken Into Darkness” and not bang your head, then you need to throw your metal card in the garbage.  The duos guitar solos are often times very melodic with a hint of an Egyptian flare to it.  When there is a solo backed by a groovy riff the band finds a certain synergy that most other bands just cannot.

As hard as the guitars hit, the bass and drums hit even harder with Garrick Smith and Michael Lewis, respectively.  The double bass almost never stops and the skins are pounded with such force and energy I think I need a third ear.  The bass is fast, furious, and sometimes very melodic but always supports the band with a strong back bone. The instrumental “Malidiction” fires on all cylinders and even brings in some prog, what with the classical style guitar solos the increasingly forward motion the song brings. All in all, this album was a surprised and will go down as one of the best albums of the year. HELSTAR have been around for 30 years but still take younger bands to school.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Awaken Into 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
James Rivera – Vocals
Larry Barragan – Guitars
Andrew Atwood – Guitars
Garrick Smith – Bass
Michael Lewis - Drums
Record Label: EMP Label Group


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Edited 04 June 2023

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