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2 tablatures for Helstar

Helstar - The King Of Hell (8/10) - USA - 2008

Genre: Power Thrash Metal
Label: AFM Records
Playing time: 50:01
Band homepage: Helstar


  1. The King Of Hell
  2. The Plague Called Man
  3. Tormentor
  4. When Empires Fall
  5. Wicked Disposition
  6. Caress Of The Dead
  7. Pain Will Be Thy Name
  8. In My Darkness
  9. The Garden Of Temptation
Helstar - The King Of Hell

I’ve always had this belief that things can never be as they were, but only what they will be, which is a somewhat bitter pill to swallow considering how many good moments Metal has had in the past. Sure, there’s a small preference on my part for most albums that keep an element of past greatness, and I think that this latest offering by 80s Speed Metal masters HELSTAR does keep an element of the past well in place, particularly the solid Power/Thrash greatness of “Nosferatu”. But ultimately what is heard here is a dark atmosphere of sound that is more comparable to DESTINY‘S END. Nonetheless, the riffs hit hard and avoid becoming repetitious, and James Rivera hasn’t lost a single iota of his range after close to 3 decades of abuse with over a dozen different Metal projects.


“King Of Hell” is basically a faithful continuation of the band’s signature brand of fast moving, hard edged, sonic slaying Metal with high end Halford shrieks and gravely Thrash vocalizations with a few small modifications. The biggest of these is the production, which has received a pretty sizable upgrade since the late 1980s and compares pretty heavily with DESTRUCTION’S recent studio offerings in this respect. The drum sound is where this is the most noticeable and, despite still containing a reverb tinge, is much less distant sounding than your typical vintage 80s production. The song structures are also a bit more advanced, changing in a more rapid succession that borderlines on the Bay Area sound, though the tonality of the guitar harmonies definitely has characteristics of German Speed Metal.


With the exception of one song, this thing cooks pretty relentlessly and offers up an interesting blend of Speed and Thrash. Some of it is really catchy like the title track “The King Of Hell” and the river of flowing heaviness “Tormentor”, while others such as “Pain” and “Wicked Disposition” just load up on the riffs and seem to want to draw upon the spirit of bands like VIO-LENCE and DARK ANGEL. At times the album gets a little hard to follow, not all that dissimilar from what happens with “Beneath The Remains”, though this isn’t quite as over-the-top as that album was. Most of the rest of the songs tend to mix up riff-happy sections with catchy verses and choruses, with the exception of “In My Darkness”, which is the album’s token half-ballad. Once it gets going, it settles into a slower groove and stagnates in mid-tempo.


When compared against this band’s pretty impressive work in the 80s, this comes up a tad bit short, but by more recent Metal standards, this is solid work. Most of these songs have a fair amount of staying power, particularly “Tormentor”, and work in a lot of really interesting riff interchanges that are sure to please the Thrash crowd. It’s a good bit darker than most of their early material, particularly due to the slightly lower and less crunchy guitar tone that it has when compared with “Nosferatu” and “A Distant Thunder”, but also due to the hooks being a little bit closer to what was heard on the heavier and less catchy DESTINY’S END albums. If you liked “Breathe Deep The Dark”, this will definitely appeal to you.

(Online May 28, 2009)

Jonathan Smith

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