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Quite Possibly the Fastest Thrash of '85 - 90%

aces_high, January 27th, 2009

What’s this? A combination of crossover and speed metal?! Fuck Yeah! Hirax is one of those one-in-a-million kinda bands. If you’re not familiar with their sound then you might want to check them out. The core genre of Hirax is crossover thrash, like D.R.I. only faster!

But instead of having a dude screaming random shit into the mic like most crossover bands, Hirax has a vocalist straight out of a speed metal band! Katon De Pena can best be described as “soaring,” not quite your King Diamond where-have-my-balls-gone falsetto, but still well above the mid range. Nobody I’ve ever heard sounds like this guy. Nobody. He’s in his own little world.

The riffs are totally awesome, ranging from power metal to hardcore punk to brutal thrash. Sometimes during the speedy sections the riffs almost melt together because they’re played so fast! Hirax doesn’t overstay their welcome like some bands would in the coming years; only two songs break the three-minute mark. The bass isn’t hard to hear, but all it does is follow the guitars.

The drummer also deserves a mention. Apparently he didn’t cut the mustard and was ousted for the next album, but I think he’s great. He has a hard time keeping in time with the band, but I think that makes the music more interesting. When the pace picks up it sounds like the band is on the brink of chaos, always about to totally lose control and fuck up but they never do. I dunno, sometimes it’s nice to hear a “loose” drummer instead of a precision machine like Gene Hoglan.

Now I’ve heard some bitching in the metal community about Christian lyrics on here, and it’s true that there are a few, but don’t worry they’re not preaching on every song, guys! The only thing resembling bible-thumping on this album would be “Demons’ Evil Forces.” Otherwise everything's happening so fast I can’t hear what he’s saying, honestly. Besides, how preachy could you expect it to be with song titles like “Bombs of Death,” “Warlord’s Command,” and “Gauntlet?”

Well this is about as unique and as fast as a thrash band could get in 1985. It’s a shame these guys didn’t get a little more recognition, but I digress. Pick this sucker up if you’re into classic metal or thrash.

Excellent Debut Album - 87%

Mungo, February 17th, 2007

Hirax's first album is half an hour of kickass thrash, and although it can get repetitive I find that it is among some of the better releases of 1985. While not reaching the level of 'Bonded by Blood' or 'Hell Awaits', this is still pretty damn good and fast as fuck. I tend to prefer this album just a bit more than the follow up, as it has more songs on it and there's slightly better riffing present, hence I gave it one more point than 'Hate, Fear and Power'.

Most of the riffs on here have a prominent hardcore influence to them, although it is not as noticeable as on their later works. The guitar work is damn fast, and the songs are probably among the fastest stuff released in 1985. A good example of this is the song 'Bombs of Death', with it's main riff sounding almost like a blur due to it's tempo. While there are some midpaced moments such as the first half of 'Demon's Forces', this is pretty much fast and heavy the whole time. The soloing is also pretty damn good, and while not featuring as heavily as I would like it the guitarist obviously has a lot of talent. The songwriting is great, with the songs ending just before they become boring or too repetitive.

The performances all round are excellent. There is a great chemistry when these guys play together, and they all sound energetic and like they're giving it their best. The vocalist, Katon W. DePena, is known to have a unique voice that is unlike any other out there in the thrash genre, and he certainly doesn't disappoint here. He pulls off the vocal lines flawlessly, and does some amazing falsettos. Scott Owen, as you may have gathered by now, does some great soloing and pumps out some excellent thrash riffs all played at a very fast speed. John Tabares features on drums, and while not being as good as his replacement for 'Hate, Fear and Power' would be, he still provides a good performance that is far above average. As for the bass, it is a bit hard to hear due to the production, but it is average for the most part.

Although some dislike the production, I like the raw sound that they also exhibited on their following release. While being far from crystal clear, each instrument (except the bass) is heard well enough. The guitar riffs can all be heard well enough, and the drums are at the perfect level of audibility, that being not so loud that they drown out the instruments or too quiet so it is hard to make out. The vocals are pulled forward, which can either be a good or bad thing depending on whether or not you like Katon's unique style of singing. I for one quite like them, so it's a positive for me.

As for highlights is difficult to choose. 'Demon's Forces' is one of them, starting off with that now infamous intro of the priest trying to convert someone after some screaming of going down to the demons. After the intro an effective midpaced riff comes in for about a minute, before it speeds up into a thrash attack with excellent, fast riffing. The vocal lines are damn catchy, and although it is hard to sing along to them considering the pitch of Katon's voice, they stick in your head for a long time. 'Bombs of Death' is another, featuring fast as fuck riffing that almost turns into a blur as it is played at an extremely fast tempo. There's an effective thrash break about halfway through with a simple yet effective riff taking over.

In conclusion, 'Raging Violence' is, as said before, among the better releases of 1985. It's chock full of fast riffing, an over the top vocal performance and some great drumming. Like their other albums, this record is highly recommended to anyone into thrash, speed or just metal in general, as it contains enough of the aforementioned elements to make a great thrash album.

Named perfectly for thrash's uninhibited period - 88%

Gutterscream, February 18th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Metal Blade Records

“…bombs of death, it’s over, drop from the sky, nuclear war, get ready prepare to die…”

Good ‘ol wickedly named Hirax were one of the earlier bands wielding thrash and speed to ward off the mid-80’s L.A. glam and melodi-rock harassment, and like most thrash worth its weight in intensity, it held little finesse. Whatever finesse did infiltrate thrash came typically from its vocalists, usually in the throwback style from metal’s then not-so-distant caveman heritage – soared or stated high tenor/soprano, often like someone’s niece and sometimes way too adolescent-sounding for the style. While the music could plow through redwood trees, lungman Katon de Pena ran the traditional path with a high-pitched, borderline annoying wail that sheared a space somewhere between the vox of Agent Steel and early Living Death. In time, this off-kilter keening would become the band’s trademark and a liking for his singing style is something that had to be cultivated. Oh sure, it turned many a fan off, and in more than a few songs he uses the same inflections in the same instances, but in hindsight no one really sounded like him. Twenty three years and a million bands later, that opinion still rings true and it didn’t take too long for a soft spot to grow within me. On the novelty front, along with members of Sound Barrier, Vendetta/M80, Black Death, Znowhite, Defcon, and a few others, de Pena was one of the few black musicians shopping in the underground supermarket.

Rhythmically, Hirax weren’t the tightest band around, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to hear some thrash. Side one kicks off with “Demons-Evil Forces”, a track slow and deliberate (during the chorus) one minute, then sidewinding with speed the next and is a fine precursor to “Blitzkrieg Air Attack”, one of many songs dedicated to the frantic. “Bombs of Death”, first featured on the Metal Massacre IV compilation in its fine demo version, is a combat-ready top track with great speed and a dynamic chorus. The title cut rampages on like its namesake (and sometimes is a little over-fast), while compact “Call of the Gods” minces few words, a bombastic outburst that unfurls with more dynamism than sheer speed.

Side two possesses (some of the most generic song titles around) gems such as the multi-faceted “Warlord’s Command”, riff-squealing “The Gauntlet”, frenetic “Destroy”, and winding rifforama “Bloodbath”. “Destruction and Terror” and “Executed” are perpetual rides of roiling thrash that tend to stand out among the rest on the side. Ending the disc is a charming backward mélange of demonic screaming and yelling that you’ll have to decipher for yourself (after you find the album and a turntable, however).

Musically, the weak link (aside from what many would say are the vocals) is drummer John Tabares, who evidently had difficulty keeping pace with the raucous rhythms (and he would be replaced for their next release, so they were fixing the problem). Luckily, guitarist Scott Owen and bassmeister Gary Monardo managed to keep the fusion intact.

Like many thrash acts from ’85, the ideas, lyrically or otherwise, were flying in at a rapid rate, probably a little too fast to be handled with any kind of shrewd finesse e.g. Sacrifice, Destructor, Bulldozer, but all in all, if you can get past de Pena’s sometimes soaring, sometimes predictable, but always unusual vocal delivery, you will likely enjoy the thrash affair Hirax has to offer.

Extraordinary thrash! - 93%

Cup_Of_Tea, January 12th, 2005

Now this is more like it. Their debut release... an album that actually beats the hell out of people. Hirax have been known in the thrash metal world for their unique vocals and intense riffs, and not just that, they're known by a fact that actually they don't quit, or change. They just keep on thrashing the same way in the 2000's as in the 80's. Many don't actually like them, but that's all racist and anti-chrisitan(poor tr00 and n3cr0 kiddies just don't get it) mumbo-jumbo, there is no WAY you cannot like this band. Rarely good thrash is heard here, for those who know how to listen. And for the actual christian lyrics, kids they are religious, but they Criticise religion too.

Now for the album... well, no complaints, actually, the songs are short, but many, and the album is fast, enjoyable and filled with thrash riffs. I would point out the title song, which amazes me with the main riff - long as hell, lasts for 1/3 of the song, but still everchanging, never repeating. The you have the Call of the God, a catchy song kicking with excellent riffs, too bad it last so short... And then there's the greatest song on the album: The Gauntlet and Destruction and Terror - fast riffing, fast drumming and all included with a good solo. Oh yeah... if you wish to headband... the two last songs are quite what you need, and more! :)))

Quite the release, different, and therefore good. I'm very sadisfied.

Horns Up For The Old School! - 90%

corviderrant, February 12th, 2004

The only reason this does not rate a 100 in my book is due to the thin, low-budget production, to be expected for the time this album was released (early 80s). Other than that, HOOOOOBOY, was this one powerbomb of a debut!

Katon W. DePena is one of the most distinctive voices in metal, with his melodic John Cyriis-like wailing (only more more tolerable than Cyriis ever was) adding character to the band's blitzkrieg thrash storm. Their political/social/mildly religious themed lyrics added another dimension to their sound, a volatile cocktail of thrash and trad metal styles that hit me right in the soft parts the moment the first bellow of "YOOOUUUUU!!!! YOU WILL GO DOWN TO THE DEMONS!!!! AND WHEN YOU DO, YOU WILL BE IN HELLLLLL!!!!!!!" assaulted my ears.

"Demon's Evil Forces" is the tune in question that starts with that, and the mild mannered spoken part that follows that a capella screamed intro only sets you up for the severe drubbing you receive from this tight, powerful thrasher. And so it goes from there, with "Bombs of Death" being another standout, an especially violent workout that features slow, double kick-fuelled bridges that will have you snapping your neck, you'll bang your head so hard! The title track is another blitzing speedbomb, as is most everything on this album, and it is positively nonstop from beginning to end--hardcore thrashers could do far worse than to snap this up.

A whole album's worth of Katon's howling is an acquired taste for some, but I like it just fine--he sounds like HIMSELF, dammit. John Tabares was not the tightest drummer, but he was one of the first to really kick it up a notch in terms of raising the bar of speed, and bassist Gary Monardo stuck to him like glue. And those frenzied riffs and scorching solos were courtesy of Scott Owen, an underrated player from back then--too bad the guitar sound is so thin on this album! If they had had more of an early Slayer production job, with those dense, dirty guitars, it would have been even more effective than it already is.

As is, "Raging Violence" is essential because it is a glimpse back to when metal was starting to branch out and spread its wings more in terms of extremity and intensity. And it can even be argued that Hirax were one of the very first of the crossover/speedcore bands that began sprouting up in America at this time (such as Cryptic Slaughter and Corrosion of Conformity--"Animosity" is one brutal record!). Highly recommended!!!!