HELSTAR - THIS WICKEST NEST (AFM RECORDS)
This Texans got me firmly in their grip since their early beginnings back in 1983, make already notice that debut album “Burning Star” (1984) is still one of favourite US Metal recordings ever ! With persuasion they appeared out of nowhere, since the release of that almighty beautiful, cult US Metal album, Helstar has never let me down. More albums were released such as “Remnants Of War”, “Distant Thunder”, “A Distant Thunder and “Nosferatu” to mention the most famous ones only. I have always been fascinated by the voice of James Rivera which became better and better as the years progressed. With the release of the last two albums “The King Of Hell” and “Glory Of Chaos”, he outclassed everyone. This little man’s high-pitched vocals cleave through flesh and bone in a merciless way. “Since “The King Of Hell”, James’ throat showed a surprising element better to define as more aggressive vocal delivery including freezing cold shrieks. His legendary high vocals in combination with these aggressive elements to work out contagious, hereby I can only conclude that James Rivera will always remain at the top of my list favourite vocalists in the history of US Power Metal!
Well, the good news is that Helstar has released album number 8 “This Wicked Nest” through AFM Records a few weeks ago.Back in full force and loaded with brand new songs, this is Helstar at its best according to myself. US Classic Heavy/Power Metal meets Thrash in a deafening manner, “This Wicked Nest” sounds like a good oiled Metal machine producing something wonderful once again.
The high value of the group immediately comes to hearing with opener ‘Fall Of Dominion’. Both axeman may introduce the song with nice melodic lines pending to the real stuff by which I mean the superlative, overwhelming vocal delivery of James Rivera and the ever beloved twin guitar attacks of Larry Barragan/Robert Travino ( both Eternity Black). Still playing on the razor’s edge, their complete technical and melodic way guitar playing still speaks to my imagination. The drum throne is occupied by Russel DeLeon (also Eternity Black), on bass we have Jerry Albarca (Distant Thunder). This first track might as well be able to stand on Helstar’s “Remnants Of War”/”Distant Thunder” albums. Most of the songs come trotting in the tradition of Helstar’s “King Of Hell/Glory Of Chaos” effort, high screaming and yelling vocals with thunderous drum/bass lines driven by a sound wave of howling and roaring guitars… proper food for the purebred, powerthrashing headbanger ! For those who want to experience it in the flesh, skip to tracks like ‘It Has Risen’, ‘Eternal Black’, Defy The Swarm’ and closing piece ‘Magormissabib’.
I really like these fast tracks but as a worshipper of the first hour, I have to admit that Helstar is at its best while playing in a more traditional, up-tempo Power Metal mode. Hereby, I would like to make a reference to albums like “Remnants Of War”/”Distant Thunder” and “Nosferatu”. Besides the speed and reasonable form of aggression to witness on the new album “This Wicked Nest”, you will hear elements from those good old Helstar era as well so don’t panic.
James Rivera takes a break at the very strong instrumental ‘Isla De Las Munecas’, what a great composition to demonstrate the mutual musical chemistry among the players. Each on in the band let his musical skills run wild and result in a starring role, definitely a fave or mine, along with the dark and doomy composition of ‘Cursed’. James Rivera takes the lead and shows once again what a highly versatile singer he really is. Undoubtedly the most talked about song of the whole nine yard. Understated musical passages that occasionally give way to the harder work, all delivered in a dark manner with eye for melodic lines as well… ‘Cursed’ may be different to the rest of the tracks, I love it!
Helstar’s “This Wickest Nest” has become a very attractive album for all of us, US Power/Thrash Metal maniacs. In terms of favourite albums of 2014, a strong contender to enter the highest step. Video watch HERE, album available through AFM Records. Final conclusion: US Metal Still Reigns Supreme !
My Points: 96 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish