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Perseverance and Desperation - 40%

VirginSteele_Helstar, May 24th, 2014

I have faced many humiliations in my time, Mr. Harker but this one is placed above them all!

The most woeful entry in Helstar's rather admirable catalog occurred in 1995 when the band itself was a fallen and forgotten shambles, a ruined house. Only James Rivera remained of the original bunch and although his perseverance is nothing short of commendable, he was clearly not immune to the musical void that bloodied and buried many of his contemporaries in that bleak decade of the '90's. As such, "Multiples of Black" is the absolute sewer if it is to be judged by the monolithic grace and grandeur of its predecessors. It lacks the genius and sheer craftsmanship of Larry Barragan's riffing , the ceaseless stomp and power that the riffing held when combined with Jerry Abarca's slick bass and James Rivera's throat of wonders and all the quirks and idiosyncrasies that made Helstar stand out as a singular force of traditional metallic brilliance. It is a severely vanilla record with the occasional spark but even when that spark shows up, it looks dim and lazy.

Things actually kick off to a promising start with "No Second Chance (In the Angry City)" which although deceptively bland, possesses a bite and energy not unlike the more blunt efforts of Omen and Vicious Rumors. James Rivera gives it as much as he can but it suffers from a lack of any truly captivating riffs and leads. The ghost of Larry Barragabn lingers nowhere and every time Russel DeLeon pounds his drum, it sounds like nails descending into coffinwood. The spiral keeps on in downward fashion from thereon largely fostered by the entirely lacking in charisma and finesse guitar playing of rightly forgotten axemen, Aaron Garza and Michael Heald. There are occasional moments of fun and inspiration because after all this is James Rivera's mind we're talking about. "Lost to Be Found, Found to Be Lost" sounds like something fellow Texans Militia wouldn't disown which means its thrash-isms are cannily placed and indeed it is a slab of fun when compared to the dour counterparts within its realms. Outside of said realm, it would be laughed out of existence. "Good Day to Die" on the other hand stands a chance of survival in the general Helstar cannon mostly because riff wise it exhibits a dynamism akin to the band of old. Only Rivera's pseudo street smart lyrics threaten to doom it. Nothing else is salvageable. Rivera handles "Beyond the Realms of Death" like a pro-adding another layer of despair to Halford's already somber vocal. But where Halford turned blackly triumphant towards the end, Rivera remains feeble and solemn. Not to mention those utterly sinful gang shouts that make "I'm free to speak" sound like a political lyric. The crappy production of course only serves to make matters worse.

In its defense, "Multiples of Black" is truly of its time. It is child of the groovy nineties when bands didn't have much to say and even less riffs to say it with. Besides more bizarre deviations were happening back then, like Queensryche's commercially tilted grunge affiliated "Hear In The Now Frontier" and Flotsam and Jetsam's infinitely absurd "High". When compared to some of the records that came out then though, it still falls short. It lacks the ceaseless charm of "Something Burning" and the character of "Dissident Alliance" and even the selling power of Iced Earth's "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Even to this day, it is still not much to reminisce about. Not for the fans and not even for the band themselves.

Pretend this album doesn't exist - 35%

Xeogred, February 8th, 2007

Wow. Helstar put out four high quality, grade A albums during the 80's. Seriously some of the best stuff I've ever heard, enough for me to put them on my "Top 10 Favorite bands" list. Although US Metal seemed completely drowned in urine during the mid 90's, I just had to hear this for myself. And it made me depressed.

First off, the worst thing about this album is the production. The sound in the instruments, and all of that. Its completely unbalanced, and horrible. And even the overall production -quality- seems incredibly horrid. I've heard stuff from the 70's better than this. The guitars are just drowning, and these have got to be some of the worst drums I've ever heard, sounding like the guy was hitting trash cans.

We all know about James Rivera's extraordinary performances, but its too hard to focus on his amazing vocals when the music drags down the overall experience down enough already. I think its obvious you can tell Rivera probably didn't enjoy recording this one, since he's pretty well known for his emotion ... its there, but a hint of it doesn't want to be. It sounds like he just wants to break out of a cage during some of the songs.

These guitarists are pretty bad. I'm more than sure they had an effect on the overall feel and sound to the album also, the writing, and whatnot. There's a few cool riffs here and there, the decent solo's. But Helstar's been known for completely over the top, mindblowing riffs and solo's. That's not the case here. The solo's on here aren't very dynamic, and just don't really give you much of a satisfying feeling when a song ends, because you were expecting more, and the structure just feels broken. Even when I try not to compare this album to Helstar's earlier releases, this still wouldn't be something I'd ever listen to for fun. Its so low grade, lifeless, and doesn't give off any sense of satisfaction at all.

So, the former reviewer BARD_Jean_Pierre pretty much nailed everything perfectly. But, I myself was just too interested to hear this myself, and as he stated, it was depressing. And although I hate to give such a low rating to one of my top favorite bands, I just felt it was necessary to further this warning to everyone to stay completely away from this broken mess of a album. Its a shame too, because look at what James Rivera has done recently in the last few years. Distant Thunder, Destiny's End, Seven Witches, absolutely incredible stuff and you can tell the man knows his Metal and will always stay true to it. For that, you can just tell he doesn't sound like he wants to be here on this release.

However, as you can see Helstar is active again, and we'll more than likely see a new release from them sometime soon. Luckily, with Metal in the US, and the entire world continueing to expand and regain its high popularity thesedays, and looking what Rivera has done over the years outside of this album, I'm sure everyone can agree that Helstar will truly be back at top of their game when that new album comes out. Can't wait!

For that, I say we all pretend Helstar never released this album. Its that bad, and I give it absolutely no recommendation at all. But ... if you're like me, and must hear it for yourself ... go for it. Just be ready to brace yourself for one of Metal's biggest disappointments of all time.