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Despite being shorter than many EPs, Hirax's second full length is still full to the brim with some great thrash. While some people complain about the sixteen minute length, I rather like it, as it means the album is over before it gets boring, and it doesn't take too long to listen to the whole thing back to back.
The first song, 'Hate, Fear and Power' is the shortest song on here, clocking in at a mere 40 seconds. At the start there is some nice shredding before the vocals come in over a hardcore sounding riff. Only about half of it is actual music, as the last half consists of some random squeaky noises. Next up is 'Blind Faith', which has a slow intro before it speeds up into pretty damn fast thrash riff, with some soloing scattered throughout the song. The break is pure genius with another excellent riff, and leads into great soloing. 'Unholy Sacrifice' is similar to the previous song, although quite a bit faster and it has some better riffing. 'Thunder Lightning' starts off with a midpaced intro until it speeds up with Katon's high pitched vocals over the top. The song is slower than the previous, but still damn good. The longest song on here, 'The Last War', is still only two and a half minutes in length. It slows the tempo down to a moderate pace, and some sections seem 'jumpy'. The chorus is quite catchy as well. 'The Plague speeds things up with an effective verse riff which slows down in the chorus. The soloing in this song is top notch, and the thrash break that follows is great to headbang to. 'Imprisoned by Ignorance' starts off rather averagely at a slow (well, compared to the rest of the stuff on this album) pace before speeding up with some awesome riffing. The last track on the album, 'Criminal Punishment', starts off with a drum intro and evolves into another great thrash song which pretty much puts everything that was great about the previous songs into it.
The production is a bit better than on 'Raging Violence', as the guitar sound is a lot thicker. It has the raw sound which I like to see in thrash albums, although occasionally it would be better if it were just a bit clearer. Katon once again provides the high pitched vocals he is known for, and his voice is unlike any other vocalist in the thrash genre. The guitarist, Scott Owen, does some short but sweet soloing and pumps out great riffs. Eric Brecht's drumming is spot on, with lots of excellent double bass work and precise fills, while the bass is not really noticeable.
Hirax's second release is an excellent, fast thrash release with similarities to hardcore. If you're a fan of the crossover genre or just thrash in general, this comes highly recommended, and will not disappoint.
This record is great, probably because its so short. Exactly what thrash should be. Straight to the point. Some of the second tier thrash bands got too caught up in creating a magnum opus after a certain point that they forgot the whole point is to rip and this album certainly does. And because its so short and I don't have to put an hour into listening to it, it inadvertently gets played a lot more, even if the LP has such short sides and I always have to flip it over.
The songs have brilliant riffs in spades, yet somehow each one seems to stand out as a seperate entity. There are themes running through each song and its very predictible which makes headbanging easy. For example, "Imprisoned By Ignorance" employs the basic verse chorus verse structure, but some interesting riff patterns which allows them to shine on their own terms. And the vocals are great, or at least, particularly on "Lightning Thunder", they resonate with me holding the shrill edge that can cut glass and curdle blood. Terriffic stuff. It's a shame the production, on some songs like "Brainwashing" which sounds a bit too 'close', is a bit uneven.
So, although it's not the most iconic thrash record, it's very solid, easy to listen to and a great, fast thrash album. And that's really all you can ask of "Hate Fear and Power".
“…world war, paranoia, hate fear and power…”
With the ultra-short mushroom cloud of a title cut Hirax’s sophomore lp detonates, and the remaining trio of de Pena, Monardo, and Owen make sure everyone offers a hearty, double-fisted salute to new stick-flailer Eric Brecht, the replacement for John Tabares, a capable drummer who at times seemed overwhelmed by the band’s thrash delivery on the debut. Beside that, nothing new on the home front - a great thing 'cos Raging Violence is a glam-killing, child-tearing, Egghead-shattering creature that needed no other fine-tuning, tinkering, or modifying, and cringing from Katon's vocals is not something the true Hirax fan does.
Funny enough, in my head I’ve always considered this an ep rather than a full-lengther as the lp is only a minute and a half longer than Reign in Blood, but unlike the Slayer classic, I constantly feel like I’m flipping sides with this (so get the cd, you outdated dolt), and the briefness of the bombastic “Hate, Fear and Power” doesn’t help, but I digress.
“Blind Faith”, a brawny, multi-rhythmic thrasher, finds itself smack dab in the middle of two monsters. While it has survived the sudden discharge of the title cut, “Unholy Sacrifice” charges from behind like a possessed pace car for speed metal, a massive barrage of riffs accumulating more and more destructive force as it blares on and has always been a top track for me. John Tabares may have imploded by the second riff. “Lightning Thunder” for the most part lassos the stampede with a more moderate pace, but lurching and bucking is the power seething underneath.
Side two fires with a little less thrash, spotlighting more on thought-provoking songwriting as “The Last War” will attest, rumbling to life with double bass, cadenced paces ranging from deliberate to jogging, a handful of stout rhythms, and a brewing chorus. “The Plague” is home to classic thrash licks and a toned chorus, meanwhile “Imprisoned by Ignorance” mixes up interesting, unorthodox riffs with traditional ones. “Criminal Punishment” does nothing to undermine the mindset, shifting back and forth between thrash-quality riffage and the newly found, more conventional script.
Even though I’m still a sucker for Raging Violence, Hirax prove a few things here. Not only does thrash continue to burn within their chest like chronic heartburn, it’s capable of roaring with even more frightening consequence than on their debut thanks to “Unholy Sacrifice”. In addition, their proclivity for more traditional writing has been set in stone, etched by just about every track on side two. Katon’s voice is as sharp and penetrating as on the debut, and the three zombies on the cover that have eaten Egghead are just as colorful and chaotic.