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In my opinion, Hirax is one of the most underrated thrash bands ever. They never acheived the success the Big Four, or even Testament, Exodus, and Overkill. I don't see how that is since Hirax really no different from all the other thrash bands that were out in the bay area at the time. Although this is only their second actual album, Hirax still deserve more popularity.
This album is great. One of the best thrash albums of the decade along with Dekapitator's The Storm Before the Calm, Exodus' Tempo of the Damned, Sodom's self titled album, and Kreator's Enemy of God. This album is not fake thrash like many of the newer metal bands these days. It's pure old school thrash to the bone.
Like most thrash albums, the riffs and solos help make this album amazing. What makes this album, and the band as a matter of fact, unique is vocalist Katon De Pena. Katon is a great singer, with lots of power and has one of the most unique voices in metal. From the mighty opener, Killswitch, to the epic Unleash the Dogs of War, Hirax thrash like they did in the 80's. Unleash the Dogs of War is probably the best Hirax track ever recorded. Other great songs include Killswitch, Hostile Territory, Swords of Steel, and Into the Ruins.
After releasing two great thrash records in the 80s before they split up, Hirax reformed in the late 90s and this is their second release after they reformed. Is it any good? Hell yeah. This is probably one of the best thrash records that was released in 2004, and while not being as good as their 80s output it still contains enough awesome moments to make it come damn close.
Instead of changing their sound to appeal to the groove scene of today, Hirax instead preferred to stick to their guns and make some more thrash like everyone else used to. This is noticeable from the very first moments the guitars kick in on the opening song 'Killswitch', with a guitar solo that sounds like it came straight out of the 80s. Thrash riffs abound, and although some of them have a bit of groove to them, Hirax utilise it well and make it add to the overall sound, not unlike what Overkill did with 'Horrorscope'. Make no mistake, this is a thrash album through and through, everything from the riffing to the drumming sounds like it was recorded back in the Golden Years of Thrash. Adding to the overall sound of the album is a clear, polished production. While I have stated in my reviews of Hirax's earlier albums that I like the raw sound that they held, the crystal clear production actually suits the music shown on here. The guitar tone is awesome, and sounds heavy and vicious, and all of the respective instruments have real 'weight' to them.
As for the individual performances, they are all lively and energetic. Katon sounds even better than he did in the 80s, as his voice is more harsher yet still retains the famous high pitch singing style he was known for. The two guitarists do some nice soloing and create some pummeling riffs that sound like they came straight out of hell. Jorge Iacobelles is spot on with his dumming, and times each beat perfectly. He may not do a fill every three seconds like some drummers today do to show off how technical and skillful they are, but his drum work does what it is supposed to do; provide an effective rhythm counterpart to the song. The bass is easier to hear than on the previous records, but it mainly follows the guitar lines.
So, the highlights. 'Unleash the Dogs of War' starts off with an intro that is not too far removed from Kreator's 'Carrion' after which it leads into awesome riffing with catchy vocal lines. Add in some spot on soloing and you have a great thrash tune. 'Into the Ruins' sounds a lot like Hirax's older material, as it is only 46 seconds long yet has a fucking fast riff with insane vocals over the top of it. 'Hostile Territory' is another winner, with more excellent guitar work and vocal performance. The chorus is especially catchy, with Katon screaming "HOSTILE!! TERRITORY!!!". As if that's not good enough they add in a fucking awesome thrash break which is a bit short but hey, all of this is in a little more than a minute and a half, so you can't expect it to go on for too long. Finally, there is 'Hell on Earth', with its excellent thrash break and catchy vocal lines.
While it may not hold up to their previous works, 'The New Age Of Terror' comes damn close. The riffing is spot on, the soloing as good as it ever was, and Katon goes crazy with his performance. An excellent modern thrash record that proves that thrash is still alive in the hearts of many, and that Hirax truly mean it when they say they'll 'Thrash 'till Death'.
Yes, The New Age of Terror has arrived!!! And it has arrived in style, crushing everything it meets in it's way. This is their best, yes, and probably one of the thrashiest albums in modern thrash. Wait... it's THE most thrash album in the new millenium, even better then new Holy Moses and Necronomicon.
Being a big fan of this band I'll just sing the praises since there is no bad thing to be isolated here. Katon W. DePena is in his best form, and on big surprise his vocals hae changed quite a bit since Barrage of Noise. He has a cleaner scream now, and a much deeper voice, which melds with the chaotic riffs perfectly. The riffs are chaotic allright, and that is the best feature Hirax can offer, and those riffs are simply AMAZING. Also the solo section has improved a bit, they seem to go along with the music more, which was a bit of a problem with Hirax since their songs were short and too fast and the solo simply didn't go well with that. Here everything is fixed.
All tracks are welcome to the listen and Hell On Earth beats them all. This is not a revolution of an album it's not a new savior of thrash metal or anything like that, it's simply thrash metal that can't do any wrong. And being a flawless album I give it this amazingly high mark. End.
The New Age of Terror is probably the best thrash metal album of two thousand four. Supplying the world with their ear bleeding thrash metal madness! Katon still has those memorable vocals. The other four members of Hirax are new and fit right in with the aggressive style of metal. This album has very clear definite production. All the songs on this album are well worth mentioning but I will pin point some of my absolute favorites.
Hostile Territory kicks in with the straight out thrash guitar riff and the blazing guitar solo. It's about a minute long song but if you want to get your head banging off right through this tune on first!
Swords of Steel actually starts out with a really neat riff. This song sounds pretty much like the rest of the album, pounding thrash. But the reason I like this song so much is because of the drop out section of the song at around 2:04 of the song. The drum beat with the guitar riff there just gave me this urge to start a mosh pit. Then the gang vocals come in "Kill!, Fight, Kill!, Fight"!
Massacre of the Innocent is an instrumental song. The song isn't very memorable except for the end riff, which they end the song after that. When you listen to it I was like.... That's it, hmmm that could go into such a crazy thrash song. But still gets attention for that great guitar riff.
Both songs Suffer and Unleash the Dogs of War remind me of the new Exodus album. Not that that is a bad thing. They are really good songs.
Ed Dia De Los Muertos is a ballad type song on this album, actually another instrumental song. Its actually well constructed and a very beautiful piece of music. It picks up a little bit but never goes full fledged into a metal type song.
So if you are into Hirax its a must have album. Probably their best work yet! I would even come close to saying its better then their '85 album Raging Violence. I would also recommend this album to all thrash metal fans or those who think thrash metal is dead. Hirax proves with this release that such statements are a lie!