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Decent, occasionally amazing, power metal - 77%

UltraBoris, August 18th, 2002

This is Helstar's debut album - there are quite a few very good songs on here, as well as several completely dispensable ones. It's best categorised as power metal, with the occasional speed metal bits here and there.

The first song, "Burning Star" is pretty fast (though not quite as fast as when you accidentally put the vinyl on 45!), and has some VERY nice riffs, and also the first of several completely killer solos by Larry Barragan. This guy is totally underrated, and rules most everyone in the guitar department - he pulls off a nice Judas Priest-styled solo in the middle of this, including a cool melodic break.

Next, "Toward the Unknown". Awesome!! This is straight up power metal. Probably the best vocal performance here from James Rivera, who sounds a lot like Rob Halford. But what really truly sets this song apart is the main solo, which is THE best guitar solo that has ever been recorded. Ever. It's pretty much perfect - not too long, no masturbation, and memorable note for note after three or four listens. You just gotta hear it for yourself.

"Witch's Eye" is kind of a letdown compared to the first two songs - it's not bad, but very average sounding and midpaced. Next is "Run With the Pack" which is also quite good - midpaced for the most part, except for at the end where it speeds up and becomes almost thrash for a few moments.

"Leather and Lust" is really fucking silly, and sounds completely out of place on this album. "Possession" is also decent, though not quite as good as the real highlights. Same with "Shadows of Iga" - these two are solid in pretty much every way, but the distinguishing characteristics aren't as strong.

We close with "Dracula's Castle", which is the third-best song on here. Another great bit of soloing from Larry Barragan, and also a really nice intro here.

Overall, some of this album demonstrates complete ownage - so much so, that the lacking parts may be forgiven. This is highly, highly recommended, just for one solo.