Metal To Infinity

If Helstar only announces a new album or a tour throughout Europe I am already getting thrilled. If I see a discussion on one or another Metal forum about these US Metal Godfathers I need the feel to read every single word. If Helstar brings a re-release on the market I am obliged to buy it, not wanting to miss anything from the band in my collection. That’s called being a number one fan, that’s called loyalty, that’s called living for a band. Helstar is my all time favorite band since the early Eighties and I keep on listening to their classic ones. I own every disc James Rivera has ever appeared on because of his transcendent voice! As a matter of fact almost his entire discography is full of ‘classic ones’ and not many singers are able to say so. Helstar’s last effort “The King Of Hell” saw the light of day in a time of reunions but no one could deny it was one of the strongest comeback albums in those days, a proof the band was armed and ready to compete in a modern yet overcrowded Metal scčne!   

Did “The King Of Hell” bring world domination to the band? No! Although it was a killer album the band stayed once more behind the surface. I consider this as another missed chance for the band but as a matter of fact more for all those who are ignorant about Helstar. Amongst the old fans lots of discussions, about that specific album, mentioned the fact that Helstar became too much Thrash, that they didn’t sound as that ‘one of a kind’ original US Progressive Power Metal band anymore. I know fans who admit that they were waiting for another “Nosferatu” or “Remnants Of War”. Helstar resurrected proudly but reincarnated in (for a part) another shape and a part of the old fans couldn’t handle the tempo that Helstar delivers nowadays, yet it was a necessary step for being competitive nowadays. 

After some performances on European soil, including the Alcatraz Festival, the band started to write “Glory Of Chaos”. I’ve heard a few songs on a listening session during a Sabbath Judas Sabbath gig and it was already clear back then (although it was almost impossible to listen intensely during a sound check) the band had chosen to stay on the path of aggressive Thrash Metal. The first songs confirm my thoughts and this is another aggressive and dark yet technical Thrash Metal CD! This is how Helstar sounds nowadays either you like it or not! But for some reasons Helstar still contains that special touch that makes the band so original… and indeed tempting! 

What makes them so irresistible? The concept and ingredients that have always been so overwhelming! Uncountable notes in every ultra sharp dressed riff, mouth-watering shredding guitar solos, superb acoustic performances, immense bass guitar lines. Especially those overpowering mid tempo arrangements with fast fingered guitars, supported by technical played drums, are their brand and a reason to worship them! And of course we have to mention the vocals of perhaps the best Metal singer on earth! Add the fact that Helstar found an amazingly strong drummer (Mikey Lewis) who gives the band even more chances to go in overdrive! Helstar contains one of the world’s best guitar duo’s and bass player Jerry Abarca easily belongs to the worlds finest! So yes, Helstar contains one of the best teams of Metal musicians on earth! Helstar is Progressive, Helstar is Power, Helstar is Heavy, Helstar is Thrash,  Helstar is just 100 % pure Metal and Helstar is… well Helstar is just Helstar!  

This disc is full of technical played US style Power and Thrash Metal songs, qualitative seen better than most other releases you’ve heard this year! The atmosphere is evil, dark and threatening! The fact they’ve chosen to play so aggressive must finally convince new fans and I’m sure the oldies amongst us will stay loyal anyway! This record sounds as good as the new Forbidden, Nevermore, Heathen, Flotsam & Jetsam or Death Angel and deserves the same attention.  

To me, and now I am speaking straight from the heart, the best tracks on this release are indeed the more mid tempo tracks like “Summer Of Hate” or “Trinity Of Heresy”. These are songs old school Helstar fans should adore! So yes, I understand the older fans… On the other hand also “Angels fall to hell” and for example “Bone Crusher” blows me away. This album is varied and the band even experiments with Death Metal. James mixes his clear vocal lines with grunts and screams and although he’s taking risks he easily proves how everlasting his voice really is. Anyway time is not yet able to take control on his vocal performances.    

Both covers at the end, from Saxon and Scorpions, don’t actually fit the rest of this album but I am pleased they’re added. Especially “Animal Magnetism” is a mighty cover and the depressive atmosphere in this song makes me wonder why Helstar didn’t use it as a well deserved break in the middle of this CD. This is a mighty cover because Helstar gives this track an own identity, I even dare to say it sounds better than the original! This melancholic – yes I would even say ‘Doom’ touch - fits the band perfectly.   

So, what are my thoughts about the new Helstar as a ‘number one fan’? I am more than satisfied and I give it one spin after another. This overwhelming produced album easily deserves a place in my top 20 of this year.  Helstar stays after all something unique!  

My Points: 94 / 100 (Review by Officer Nice)