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Helstar - The King Of Hell (CD)

The King Of Hell
by Grigoris Chronis at 19 September 2008, 1:15 PM

50 minutes of new HELSTAR music, thirteen years since the US Metal band's latest official studio release (Multiples Of Black, 1995 - an album I think they don't want to remember) and whole lotta nineteen(!) years after the last 'glory era' album, 1989's Nosferatu (hail!). It's a crucial question over here: the king is dead, the king is back or it's the king of hell himself? Had to spent time with The King Of Hell for lots of hours to come to a close-up digest: it kicks ultimate arse.
Well, if you believe you like 80s-influenced US Heavy/Power Metal there's some thrilling news here for ya: the new album is a killer! When AFM Records released the Sins Of The Past CD last year (kinda 'best of', with re-recorded classics), the presence of two fresh tracks - Tormentor and Caress Of The Dead - made the apetite/anticipation for some new HELSTAR album growing bigger and bigger, especially since these two new cuts had the credentials to guarantee for a special comeback. The logo's volume, nearly the complete Remnants OF War lineup…what else would you need? Well, you wanted The King Of Hell, you got The King Of Hell!
Larry Barragan's and Robert Trevino's performance is - honestly - tremendous! Tons of riffs, great inspiration, pure metallic psychosis, nonstop volume, malignancy and vice all the way, they carry the main load in my opinion…and they get away with it quite triumphantly! If you're into HELSTAR's music you can recall the requirements in high-level soloing/leads/dual fights. OK, the duo's again outstanding! Spirit, tidiness, I think they both are in a stunning skills level. The licks, the fills, the the the…have mercy…
Gold medal also goes to the rhythm section: in a series of tempos, from fast-pace thunders to battle Metal 'upwards' callings, then to 'total speed' parts with not few complex formations (again, you can recall HELSTAR's blend…), the Abarca/DeLeon pair serves the new album in total reliance and dignity. I'd expect - even from HELSTAR - some 'new American' pounding at a song or two, but (thankfully!) everything runs Metal here (see 2nd P.S., also).
James Rivera cannot escape the facts: I admit he did bring me into thinking at a time in his career, trying to 'franchise' some short of growling singing, with a result somehow controversial for a singer of his type. Nonetheless, with HELSTAR back on the trek, this is James Rivera: metallic, made of iron, high-pitched in ease, epic, malicious…is he 100% into the music? Yes, he is, while - at times - he guides the music in his own means.
The songs themselves: if you grab a fraction of the Remnants… CD, a part of Nosferaru, a portion of DESTINY'S END's pair of albums, a consideration of what's Rivera up to the last decade and consider it's year 2008 and HELSTAR's origin is America while they're not a sellout, then you can have a draft metallic idea what's all for. A lady's lunar voice would tranquil your mind in the beginning, not rapidly tending to overcome Rivera's shrieks and the up-tempo madness of The King Of Hell that bursts out. The 'mass attack' intermezzos enrich the same-titled cuts' vice, nothing less. The Plague Called Man goes Speed/Thrash, to an extend you'll find difficulty in defending this unleashed harass. The mid-pace refrain/chorus attaches spice, with the vocals warning the danger, and the bridge is as groovy as the tempo of damned souls.
Tormentor: a familiar track title for countless bands in Metal music; HELSTAR's not outta scope. Rage and obscurity is the game here, with a MERCYFUL FATE-meets-SANCTUARY blend you won't deny. When Empires Fall sets things up-tempo again, with a battlefield drumming intro and some demonic riffing. HELSTAR as you know them from the Remnants Of War days.
Need for speed? It's time for some Wicked Disposition, a frenzy intro part with some of the most 'Metal' HELSTAR you've probably heard in years. The vocal lines are eerie, too, and the middle theme exceeds metallic lust and voracious vice. Caress Of The Dead sounds even better in regards to the Sins… CD, while Rivera is an explicit narrator here with some HELSTAR typical elements floating 'round in music.
Storming form the gates of steel hell, Pain Will Be Thy Name is a Thrash attack with some demonic vocals; I doubt if I've ever heard such malice from this band. You'll even bring SLAYER to mind (guitars/drums wise). An acoustic intro with Rivera's calm singing precedes In My Darkness's supremacy, where some old-school pace of petite speed evolves into a double-bass groovy hellbastard sequence. I'd bet for a relevant latest JUDAS PRIEST mention here. A dismal classic Metal track, really, exchanging vibes with the Spanish guitar intro of In My Darkness, the last track of the (normal) album. Mid-pace Metal consciousness, don't have to say again bout the guitars work in riffs and leads, the songs re-shapes in the common HELSTAR up-tempo recipe. Great, just great.
The production is more than strong, full of power and steel, designed for the 80s US Metal fan who steadily keeps up-to-date with Metal music. The mix is also ideal. Being out of pure logic, I'd dare saying this is an album that sounds as if it was written after Nosferatu plus it sees an even heavier and gloomier sound.
HELSTAR is back? Yeeeeeees! A striking release, representative and looking up to the name and legacy of these defenders of Metal music. The King OF Hell already is in my 'top' list for 2008. Vicious and malignant, heavy and metallic. No excuses if you miss it.
P.S. 1: The first edition of HELSTAR's new album includes three extra tracks. Grab this one, I'd propose.
P.S. 2: HELSTAR sounding like NEVERMORE in parts…? Big joke…

4 Star Rating

The King Of Hell
The Plague Called Man
When Empires Fall
Wicked Disposition
Caress Of The Dead
Pain Will Be Thy Name
In My Darkness
The Garden Of Temptation
James Rivera - Vocals
Larry Barragan - Guitar
Robert Trevino - Guitar
Jerry Abarca - Bass
Russel DeLeon - Drums
Record Label: AFM Records


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