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Lacking identity in a morass of thrashy riffs. - 68%

Empyreal, February 12th, 2011

Helstar was one of the late great 80s bands that have come back in the modern day for a reunion after releasing some crap in the 90s. Haven’t you heard that story a thousand times? Well, either way, it’s always interesting to watch the paths of evolution these bands take. I didn’t like Helstar’s last album King of Hell, but this one is at least coherent and has some actual songs buried underneath the madcap riffing and aggressive howls from the vocals. Glory of Chaos, however, still isn’t perfect.

Now, I’ll just get this out of the way right now: NONE of these songs sounds like the Helstar from the 80s. None of them really have the same unique riffing style or James Rivera’s idiosyncratic bleating. This is a very orthodox sounding album much in the vein of bands like Heathen or Overkill, with Rivera turning in a performance that really doesn’t sound much like him and the guitars mostly resigned to chugging out more basic-styled thrash riffing. It’s all pumped out with energy and vitriol, and it never sounds half-assed, but you’re lying to yourself if you think this album is the return of the old Helstar.

Now that we got that out of the way, what are the songs like? Well they’re mostly pretty solid. That’s the best word for it – solid. Some songs are really fun, like “Angels Fall to Hell,” “Bone Crusher” and the slower, more epic “Summer of Hate.” But some of the other ones, while entertaining while they’re on, are just not that memorable – “Dethtrap,” “Anger” and “Trinity of Hate” come to mind. The closing “Alma Negra” has some of the most ridiculously harsh screams you’re likely to ever hear on a classic USPM style album.

I think the biggest problem this album has is just that it lacks identity. It doesn’t really sound like Helstar, and that hole hasn’t been replaced with anything else yet. The band churns out some good tunes but they just don’t seem to have any unifying theme, any individual stamp that tells us this is a work to be lauded. That’s the big reason why I can’t give this too great a score. It’s just kind of faceless, and it doesn’t have enough style or charisma to be a really good album. But if you want a solid, chugging album of thrashing madness, Glory of Chaos is a safe bet. Just don’t go in expecting the great 80s Helstar. They are pretty much gone at this point.