Metal To Infinity

Following their 30 years of existence, Houston, Texas based legendary Helstar just released its brand new double CD/DVD set entitled “30 Years Of Hel” through AFM Records. Formed by guitarist Larry Barragan and charismatic frontman James Rivera (aka Bill Lionel) back in 1982, this is a must-have product for all those into US Power/Thrash Metal!  

Right from the very early days of the Helstar experience, I never could resist the temptation of their wonderful way of US Metal. All of the band’s albums released so far were so amazingly fantastic to me, I’d like to scream it out that Helstar is my number one US Metal act for sure! The voice of James Rivera still gives me shivers after three decades, hearing the 20 live songs on the new album, it feels like he sounds even better than before. My deepest respect goes out to James for the long time delivery of the most fantastic, unique, charismatic vocal duties. Nobody ever reach the level of James’ way of singing – he’s the one and only! I had to opportunity to meet him backstage at the 2009 edition of Belgium based Alcatraz Metal Festival and I will never forget that moment - very friendly guy and Helstar ruled the stage with an iron hand that day! And of course, a lot of dignity for guitarist Larry Barragan as well – James tells a little story on stage that it was Larry who came knocking on the front door of his apartment with a request to team up with his band instead of spending time with a garage James was involved with back then. That was actually the start of Helstar, a beautiful experience of two faithful brothers in Metal… a great history that lasts for thirty years ever since.  

“30 Years Of Hel” is not to banish from my CD player, the last few days the sound of Helstar floats through my living room and hell no, I don’t care about complaining neighbours! Two CD’s fulfilled with twenty songs and the production is swirling good. The chosen songs overshadow the whole Helstar history – from the legendary classic ones like: ‘Toward The Unknown’, ‘Burning Star’, ‘Suicidal Nightmare’, ‘Winds Of War’, ‘Angel Of Death’, ‘Run With The Pack’, ‘To Sleep Per Chance To Scream’ to tracks from taken their most killer albums “The King Of Hell” and “Glory Of Chaos”… during these works, Helstar demonstrates how to play US Thrash Metal as it should be!! All the beautiful songs you can hear on both live CD’s is also offered on a full DVD which looks and sounds outstanding. 

The DVD was filmed and recorded at Warehouse Houston, Texas on the 24th. of March 2012 where Helstar probably played the best live performance ever. Watching the whole show, I see both original veterans James Rivera and Larry Barragan having a real good time acting like true brothers of Metal. Between some of the tracks, James tells a little story about funny things happened in the past while the audience carefully keep on admirable staring at the stage having the time of their live. James is a natural born entertainer who gets the present people on its hands, always with a lot of elegance.  

As told before, the voice of is still almighty good – even he’s getting older he still brings his legendary high pitched vocals and deadly screams like he always did in the past. If you think he’s lost a bit of vocal quality and presence, you’re fully wrong! James was, is and stays one hell of a fantastic, world famous frontman to me! But I also like to announce my deepest respect to the rest of the guys in Helstar. The guitar works on this DVD are really heavy and when it comes to start a solo battle between both axeman, I turn on the volume to the maximum… great players and a fantastic sound. I also see a driven bassist constantly bang its head without losing control over his tool and a drummer who won’t let you down… AWESOME! You can select some extra’s on the DVD like: behind the scenes, interviews, at the house of Larry Barragan, Summer Of Hate Tour,… be sure, you will not be bored! 

Even the fact I’m a fan of Helstar right from their early 1982 era, as reviewer it’s my job to be sincere and honest with you, right! Well, than I have to say that “30 Years Of Hel” (featuring the great DVD Anniversary Show happened in Houston, Texas - March 2012 plus a 2CD-set loaded with nothing but overwhelming compositions) feels like a wonderful masterpiece to me. Both old and new songs are served in the best possible sound quality but in the end, it’s Helstar who did it once again in style! Two hours hearing and watching to a band who deserves all my respect for their three decades long tour of duty delivering US Metal the best you can get feels like heaven to me!  

At the moment, Helstar is very busy touring across Europe, watch for more dates at: http://www.helstarmetal.com/.  Catch this fantastic piece at: www.afm-records.com 

Almighty HELSTAR and the general US Metal movement still reign supreme – what do you think about that! 

My Points: 98 / 100 (Review by Stefan)