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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!!!!