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War Within is French power/thrash metal combo Hellixxir’s debut concept album that deals with the distinctive behavior of sick humans. I think I should start by saying that literally I had low expectations for this CD. My hasty pre-judgment before listening to this record: this Grenoble-based band has nothing to add to the conventional definition of any quintessential thrash metal act. Moreover, I must admit that once I heard the album I was assuredly dazzled.
War Within was released back in 2007 through the French label Brennus Music. It is probably a fair fact that at that point in time Hellixxir never were in the limelight, primarily in foreign countries. On the other hand the lack of worldwide recognition doesn't prevent their full-length release from having numerous interesting points. Genuinely, I cannot help thinking that War Within is a curious item, not really something that one would call an absolute classic, but nevertheless an album that is worth listening even years after its release.
Just by the looks of it, the debut release of Hellixxir might initially seem a bit suspicious, but the first few moments of the album should be already more than enough to assure you that this is a real deal. De facto, War Within falls into the category of albums that are most difficult to describe fairly with a few words. As a matter of fact, the CD starts and ends with some ultra-heavy and demented tracks but features also some less frantic material. The ultimate question is how to objectively define Hellixxir’s unmistakably characteristic sound? In general I can assume that the simpler answer is always better. Furthermore anyone remotely knowledgeable of Nevermore, the Seattle-based groove/proggers, will certainly be able to spell out what to expect here. Hellixxir’s sound is a mishmash of the old and the new era Nevermore. Notwithstanding one cannot help but notice that the band music tends to be predominantly influenced by the old era Nevermore i.e. American-styled power/thrash metal. Make no mistake this is indubitably not another upcoming Nevermore clone but rather a nonstandard talented French combo successfully adopting the Nevermore’s music formula. It goes without saying that the musical composition is undeniably complex with well-defined structure yet without fail simple and easy-to-comprehend. In effect, one cannot help but feel that Hellixxir originally intended to add a creative touch to the album. In addition, the members of the band tend to make things as simple as possible but not simpler. Essentially, what we have here can be considered as the groundwork for much high-class and more opulent offerings from those up-and-coming musicians. Assuredly the most important positive aspect of War Within is the unique and harmonious combination of instruments, vocals, lyrics and production that is remarkable and captivating. I should also point out that listeners looking for guitar wizardry will get served immediately. Matter-of-factly, War Within contains a tremendous bunch of old-school thrash metal riffs along another bundle of modern yet again thrash metal riffs, don’t get me wrong there’s almost nothing technical, in conjunction with occasional power metal passages and power/thrash metal-like melodic vocals with few and far between growls.
In summation, I would personally rank this album among the most underrated debut power/thrash metal releases of the 2000s. One cannot deny that on this record Hellixxir shows extreme talent for an upcoming metal band. War Within is absolutely promising, there’s a lot of great music here although the band should probably experiment further to define an appropriate unorthodox style. Finally, I recommend this album to any metal fan interested in discovering upcoming skilled metal acts.