Album review: HELSTAR – This Wicked Nest

AFM Records [Released 28.04.14]

I believe the cover of Helstar’s latest release This Wicked Nest says it all really…a suit wearing skeleton complete with devil horns and a pentagram worked into the band logo. After listening…well yeah I was correct – I feel like I’ve just stepped back 30 years to 1984 and into the height of the American thrash explosion.

Helstar were founded in Houston, Texas way back in 1982 but only original vocalist James Rivera survives in today’s line-up. Original bassist Jerry Abarca had to step down in 2013 due to ill health but still hopes to return when recovered. The 2014 line-up is completed by guitarists Larry Barragan and Rob Trevino and drummer Mikey Lewis. Symphony X bassist Mike Lepond has been rumoured to be taking over live bass duties.

Helstar deal in thrash metal in the vein of early Metallica, early Megadeth, Testament and Exodus. Opener Fall Of Dominion kicks things off as they mean to go on – a typical acoustic Metallica opening leading in serious Megadeth riffing. The song titles say it all really – Eternal Black, This Wicked Nest, Souls Cry, Cursed, It Has Risen…but what kills this for me is the high pitched unique vocal style of James Rivera which makes for unpleasant listening to my ears. Isla De Las Munecas saves things slightly as it is an instrumental. Epic closer Magormissabib (from the Bible, Jeremiah 20:3 – a symbolic name given to evil priest Pashur by Jeremiah meaning “fear on every side”) has a little bit of Eastern flavour to it but is more of the same – I’m sure the story of Magormissabib is told in the song but unfortunately I couldn’t decipher the screams!

This is pure OLD school thrash with a distinct demonic feel…the label are even releasing 666 vinyl copies of the album!

Not my cup of tea but this will find its fans out there.


Review by Phil Berisford

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