Album review: HIRAX – Immortal Legacy

Steamhamer/SPV – Out Now.

When you think of the San Francisco Thrash Metal scene, the very first band name that springs to mind is that of Metallica, closely followed by Exodus and Slayer.

It takes a pretty knowledgeable and devoted Thrasher to appreciate that Hirax also deserve to have their name added to this list, being a band which, though fighting from the sidelines throughout its long and arduous career, has always been loyal and committed to their music.

It seems that it is this passion and honesty that Steamhammer Records are willing to support, since “Immortal Legacy”, Hirax’s fifth studio album, is being released to the public under their label.

Head banging riffs and Katon W. de Pena’s high registered vocals: these are the two ingredients that Hirax have used in the creation of every single studio album and “Immortal Legacy” is no exception to that rule.

Riff-wise, what we have is a fine blend of Judas Priest influenced lead melodies and crunchy head banging riffs whose style looks back to the early 80s and bands like Metallica and Slayer for inspiration.

I know, you’re probably thinking that this a album has nothing new to offer, right? Well, on paper, this may be the case, however it is the raw passion and sheer energy that characterise these twelve compositions that will eventually make them more than appealing to you.

Now, if that’s not enough of a motivation, how about the fact that legends of the genre such as Jim Durkin (Dark Angel), Juan Garcia (Agent Steel) have offered their amazing skills to its creative process. Intriguing, right?

Even though interesting and enjoyable material can be found throughout, the songs that do stand out are featured in the first half of the album. Opener “Black Smoke” features flamboyant lead solos and a massive early Metallica galloping riff, while “Hellion Rising” operates at a similarly galloping tempo.

De Pena’s trademark shouts are audible in both “Victims Of The Dead” and the interestingly titled “Thunder Roar, The Conquest, La Boca De La Bestia – The Mouth Of The Beast” while the lead guitars on “Tied To The Gallows Pole” are of such quality that only someone of Dave Mustaine’s (Megadeth) skill could contemplate recording them.

Elements of Slayer and Exodus can be found on the duet “Deceiver” / “Immortal Legacy” and “Violence Of Action”, though structurally inconsistent, certainly has a few interesting things to add.

Introduced by an intricate bass guitar intro, entitled “Atlantis (Journey To Atlantis)”, “The World Will Burn” may come across as a tad too short, but is still finds enough time to impress through an array of interesting riffs, courtesy of  Lance Harrison and his impressive guests, providing the album with an energetic ending.

If it was up to trends and record labels alone, Hirax would have ceased to be a long time ago. It is probably through sheer stubbornness on the part of  Katon W. de Pena that we are today able to talk about a new Hirax album but I, for one, am pretty happy to do so as “Immortal Legacy” contains a collection of honest and energy-driven compositions that will appeal to Thrash Metal fans, both old and new.

In a day and age where records often sound soulless and over-polished it is nice to have a band like Hirax showing us what the true spirit of Metal is all about, even if that means keeping things on a simple and somewhat predictable level.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)


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