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Past glory vs. current chaos - 86%

hells_unicorn, February 12th, 2011

When considering Helstar’s extravagant past, it is easy to be turned off by the fruits of their reformation. But in spite of a large number of 80s revivalist bands attempting to relive the past, 2010 sees the Texas power/thrash pioneers electing to be in the here and now, offering up another release in the same overall style as “King Of Hell”. This isn’t necessarily a sound that is conducive to the practices of many modern bands either, but more of a modern reinterpretation of the band’s hardest and most extreme elements, ergo the latent thrash metal tendencies that most early USPM bands took the same bands that influenced the Big 4, but with a keener eye for melody to complement that foray of blistering riff assaults.

“Glory Of Chaos” is, through and through, a thrash metal album that largely reminds of the more recent offerings penned by Teutonic Trio adherents Destruction. It might not be quite as fast, frenetic, or utterly scornful as most of said German band’s work, but the large as hell sounding production meshed with the busy guitar work definitely takes a good number of cues from them. James Rivera’s somewhat cleaner vocals and air raid siren wails give it a little bit of that familiar Judas Priest edge that was last heard on “Nosferatu”, but the pummeling and percussive tendencies of everything going on around him veer well beyond even the aggression level of “Painkiller” and the Tim Owens material, and Rivera even offers some blackened shrieks for added effect. To put it simply, this is just a little too much thrash for the casual Metallica fan to handle, and is more suited to the next echelon of extreme listening before crossing the barrier into Sodom territory.

The comparisons with this album’s 2008 predecessor become all but inevitable given the similar format of elongated songwriting and unrelenting aggression put forth here. Sometimes things seem to drag a little on the longer riff monsters in “Monarch Of Bloodshed” and “Alma Negra”, but for the most part the battery is constant, and the slow chugging breakdown sections are few and far between (as they should be). There are no overt slouches to speak of on this album, but the general tendency is that the fast the tempo, the better things are. The point of utter climax essentially falls right in the middle of things in “Bone Crusher”, which just screams of the vilest elements of late 80s Sodom merged with a somewhat busier riff set and a less Kerry King informed set of lead sections. Likewise, if a given listener can get through the rabid intensity of “Dethtrap” and “Trinity Of Heresy” without at least the beginning symptoms of whiplash, they’ve probably been building up their neck muscles and consuming plenty of calcium going all the way back to the birth of thrash metal.

Ultimately I think that any detractors of this album or its predecessor should at least come to terms with the fact that the remnant of Helstar’s original lineup have no apparent intention of trying to put out another “Remnant Of War” or “Nosferatu”, nor even attempting to revisit any other familiar zeniths in 80s speed metal antiquity. This is a music that definitely remembers its past, but doesn’t attempt to keep synthesizing it over and over with a complete obliviousness of what else the genre has done since then. The reinterpretations of the Saxon and Scorpions songs in this new sound are pretty well a testament to that, despite them being the weaker examples of what this band is capable of on here. I’ll spare everyone the stupid “be open minded about it” cliché, since the sheer intensity of the contents on here will probably do enough damage to one’s skull to force that saying into a literal reality.

Originally submitted to ( on February 12, 2011.