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Articles Home » 2016 Articles » Helstar - 2016 Vampiro
Helstar - 2016 Vampiro

ARTIST: Helstar
ALBUM: Vampiro
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: James Rivera - vocals * Larry Barragan - guitars * Andrew Atwood - guitars * Garrick Smith - bass * Michael Lewis - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Awaken Into Darkness * 02 Blood Lust * 03 To Dust You Will Become * 04 Off With His Head * 05 From The Pulpit To The Pit * 06 To Their Death Beds They Fell * 07 Malediction * 08 Repent In Fire * 09 Abolish The Sin * 10 Black Cathedral * 11 Dreamless Sleep


WEBLINKS: Helstar FB Page

I've always had a soft spot for Texan metallers Helstar. They go way back to the early 80's, and though their material back then was a bit hamfisted, they got better as they went along. After many albums, singer James Rivera and guitarist Larry Barragan are still very much part of the band, and now in 2016, Helstar have signed to Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson's new label EMP (Ellefson Music Productions). Rivera who is also nick-named the 'Mexican Dio' can still hit those high notes. The album title 'Vampiro' retains a theme which goes back to the similarly inspired 1989 album 'Nosferatu'. Dracula and vampires are still a revered haunt in myth and popular culture it would seem, so too for Rivera and Helstar. However, it's the dual guitar overload and OTT vocals which typify Helstar's approach to modern day heavy metal. Not a lot has changed over the decades to be honest. Speed metal meets thrash, just wind the clock forward thirty years or so.

The Songs
Leading off, 'Awaken In Darkness' takes awhile to get going, initially settling into third gear, before clearing out the barrels at the four minute mark and picking up the pace. This is more like it. 'Blood Lust' is Helstar doing their thing in 2016, caught up in a whirlwind of their own making. There is some similarity to the recent Vicious Rumors album 'Concussion Protocol' on tracks such as 'To Dust You Will Become' and the pleasantly titled 'Off With His Head' (Sleepy Hollow anyone?), while 'From The Pulpit To The Pit' describes the transition between good and evil. For me, there's not much difference, so don't get me started on religion lol! Seventh track in: 'Malediction' is an instrumental workout of manic proportions. Don't try headbanging to this at home! Perhaps the coup de grace on this album is the near 8 minute epic 'Black Cathedral'. After a slow introduction, it doesn't take long for Helstar to pick up a head of steam, as this track is possibly the best representation of the band in their present state. They sound powerful and dominating. The album concludes with the symphonic 'Dreamless Sleep', sounding like Kansas. I kid you not!

In Summary
Apart from the last track, there's no forgiveness to the 2016 version of Helstar. It's OTT metal that lacks any forethought given to a break in precedings throughout the 57 minute run time. If you can handle the non-stop sonic energy on show here, then good for you. Like many albums of this ilk, I can only handle it in small doses as my brain feels like it might explode. Which ultimately says a lot about Helstar, who totally deliver heavy metal in the most unrelenting way.

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