Holy crap! I really don’t know what else to say about this. I have been anxiously awaiting this release since it was first announced, and it absolutely does not disappoint. Not one little iota. But hey, it’s HELSTAR, so it had to be frickin’ awesome. As a big HELSTAR fan, and fan of all of vocalist James Rivera’s other work (DESTINY’S END, SEVEN WITCHES, VICIOUS RUMORS, etc.), it would have shocked the hell out me if this album hadn’t completely ruled. And you know what? It does on every level.
All praising and whatnot aside, I have to be honest: There was a (very) small part of me that was a just bit nervous about HELSTAR re-recording such classic songs. The originals of nearly every song on the first four HELSTAR records are all right at or very near perfection, so there was always a chance that the band could potentially do something to tarnish them. Fortunately, the band stayed true to the originals in nearly every way, only giving them a boosted sound/production quality, which only adds to the already ripping heaviness of these tracks.
As with any compilation-style album, there’s always going to be some questions/complaints about the tracks chosen. Since all but the last two songs (we’ll get to those in a minute) came off the first four HELSTAR albums, it would have been impossible for a bad track listing to be created. However, all fans will find a least a track or two that they feel was unfairly omitted, and I’ll now take my turn to voice my displeasure in the absence of “Winds Of War”, from the classic “A Distant Thunder” album. This is far and away one of HELSTAR’s most epic songs, and I would have loved to hear it re-recorded. But hey, I still got “Tyrannicide”, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Despite any track listing complaints, every song on “Sins Of The Past” rocks with reckless abandon and should have any listener worth their weight in metal handbanging like there’s no tomorrow.
Now we get to the last two tracks, “Tormentor” and “Caress Of The Dead”, which should really cause some excitement amongst HELSTAR fans, as these are brand new songs. All that can really be said in regards to these tracks is “come on HELSTAR, record a whole new album already!” The two new songs hold up exceptionally well with the older material, maybe even edging them in heaviness, showing that HELSTAR has not missed a step. Based upon these two songs, a new album would not only be very welcome, but it would crush much of the competition.
Fans of HELSTAR should definitely invest in “Sins Of The Past” immediately. Old-school Heavy Metal fans that haven’t entered the institution that is HELSTAR are seriously missing out, and have some major catching up to do. I’d definitely advise you to pick up the first four albums, but “Sins Of The Past” is as good a starting point as you could ask for.
(Online April 20, 2008)