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Hirax - Born in the Streets

Born in the Streets
by Chris Hawkins at 08 July 2018, 4:49 PM

HIRAX were there.  Led by Katon W. De Pena, the band helped set the bar for the Thrash explosion taking place in California in the early and mid 1980s.  "Born in the Streets" was released back on April 23, 2018 and showcases the early recordings of the band , and even before, with the last tracks belonging to the demo of LA KAOS, the band that predates HIRAX.  Indeed, there are essentially two albums here and a clear, evident difference between the two projects but yet a tie binding both efforts persists.  It simply does not get more authentic than this, for the recording was actually taken from Katon's personal, early copy of the projects.  Thrash purists and collectors have perhaps already grabbed this, but the public, hordes of Metal fans, must be let in on the secret as well.  Have at it!

Opening with the title track, the record develops with a fury indicative of the early 1980s Thrash scene.  Katon's vocals are powerful as he makes every note soar with a talent given only to a prestigious, small group of musicians.  The fourth track, "Believe in the King," could really classified as a Heavy Metal staple with its memorable melody and sense of triumph.  It is one of the band's most endearing gifts, that their music can toe the balance so well between balls and beauty.

The mood certainly sours, however, when one reaches the fifth track, "To Be Free".  For such a great exercise of classic Metal, at least for what I can discern, the recording is horrendous.  It's certainly understandable for such an historic and rare release, that the quality will be less than studio-determined samples.  The determination of its listenability is directly relevant to the reader's patience for rough noise and grating static.  With a bit better quality than the preceding track, "War Hero," the seventh track, belies a similitude with the other tracks though has its own charming, Americanized, early IRON MAIDEN feel.  The main riff is one of the standouts for the album.

The part of the album dedicated to the LA KAOS material begins with the eighth track, "Intro/Life Goes On".  This is song is a very melodic affair with an extremely catchy main riff tinged by NWOBHM influences.  Katon is the constant, driving force.  With both recordings considered, this early tune is undoubtedly the best out of all the material presented on "Born in the Streets".   The tenth track, "My Baby, " intimates other CA (Mainly L.A.) bands as it is built around a comfortable twelve-bar-blues lick.  In the latter part of the song, the band unleashes their burgeoning sense of Heavy Metal dynamics with a fierce display propelled by some thumping double bass.

This is a collection of memorable Metal, but the delivery is not quite up to speed with the normal standards of modern music recordings actually released.  Perhaps this lends to its still redeemable charm, that inside look at the early days by legends of Heavy Metal.  As much as this is from a certifiable inclusion in the Metal vernacular, it is an albeit primitive effort.  It is hard to imagine many past the super-fan and collector would pull the trigger on picking this up; however, one's library could always benefit from some vintage songs from the arsenal of HIRAX.  The choice is yours.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Dark Hedges
2. Battle Cry
3. Stand and Be Counted
4. Believe in the King
5. To Be Free
6. The Sa vior
7. War Hero
As LA Kaos:
8. Intro/Life Goes On
9. Hallows' Eve
10.  My Baby
11.  Y.B.D.
12.  Runnin'
Katon W. DePena - Vocals
Gary Monardo – Bass
John Tabares – Drums
Bob Savage – Guitar
Record Label: F.O.A.D. Records


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Edited 01 December 2021

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