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Kickin' ass and taking names - Helstar are back! - 80%

TrooperOfSteel, July 7th, 2011

Originating from Texas in the mighty US of A, Helstar began their thrash/speed metal journey back in 1982. With line-up issues hitting the band early, Helstar almost broke up after their debut album 'Burning Star'. Moving forward, three more solid releases followed in 1986, 88 and 89 before Helstar fell into a stagnant patch for about 4 years or so, after their contract with Metal Blade had expired; releasing a few demos but to no interest from labels. In 1995 however, the big comeback for Helstar turned into a nightmare, when they released their worst album to date, the awful 'Multiples of Black'.

With the band now at the crossroads, vocalist James Rivera put Helstar on hold as he delved into other metal projects, with bands such as Destiny's End and Seven Witches to name a few. From 2001, Rivera organised reunion tours with Helstar with no new material written until 2006, when Rivera announced that Helstar was "musically active" once again as he had reunited with original bassist Larry Barragan (who left in 1989-90). Not only that, but the line-up from 1986's 'Remnants of War' had come back together, a great sign for die-hard fans. In the bold step forward, first came 'Sins of the Past', a compilation disc where songs from the first four Helstar CDs were re-recorded; including two brand new songs. These two new tracks would feature on Helstar's first studio album since 1995, the exceptional 'The King of Hell'. Released in 2008, 'The King of Hell' was a return to glory for the long-starved Helstar, receiving fantastic reviews and loosely branded the tag of best metal comeback.

Helstar has now returned in 2010, backing up on their previous release with another superb speed/thrash effort, titled 'Glory of Chaos'. Within you'll find crushing and intricate thrashy guitar riffs, heavy bass and thunderous drumming. Rivera leads the way with his intense vocal delivery, an underrated singer, who has withstood the test of time and continues to belt out songs in his usual emotional and fierce fashion. While not 100% thrash metal, Helstar also branches out into the speed metal and power metal genres for an ultimate heavy infusion of power that will not only quench the thirst of thrash metal fans (Overkill, Kreator, Exodus, early Megadeth and early Metallica), but also fans of American speed and power metal.

Living up to its previous disc and more, 'Glory of Chaos' is a metal assault of scorching quickness, aggressive tones and powerful melodies and riffs. A very well constructed album which proves that persistence eventually pays off, with Helstar finally getting the recognition they've deserved for some time now. While James Rivera may have received the critical acclaim he was seeking while involved in Destiny's End, Helstar now stands on top of the ladder as Rivera's best metal creation to date. Quite consistent throughout, every track on 'Glory of Chaos' has its own unique feel and sound, neither completely thrash nor speed/power metal. The one main running theme flowing through this album is killer riffs and shitloads of them. If it's riffs you’re salivating over, then 'Glory of Chaos' is your CD of choice, beginning with the ferocious opener "Angels Fall to Hell", followed by the grinding and memorable "Pandemonium". Looking good so far, the disc continues with aggressive thrashy winners including "Bone Crusher", "Summer of Hate", "Trinity of Heresy" and the awesome "Alma Negra".

In the end, if you haven't felt like you've been blown away by the intensely heavy and barbaric guitar riffs and double bass pummelling, or the hair on the back of your neck stand up from the shrieks of Rivera's unique and emotional vocals, then I doubt anything will. Long-time fans of Helstar should blindly see this one through to the checkout, while thrash metal fans should also find this release extremely to their liking. Power/speed metal fans who love their metal hard and heavy and straight to the point, then this is the CD for you.

This type of heavy metal may be in decline of recent times and movements, but one who is waving the flag with pride and honour is Helstar. From sitting in limbo 15 years ago, not knowing where this band was going to go, Helstar has certainly taken the bull by the horns and have controlled their own destiny. By the sounds of 'Glory of Chaos' and 'The King of Hell', they are really kickin' ass and are indeed one of the best comeback bands I've known about in some time.

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