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HELSTAR Vampiro

By Alex Yarborough, Orlando Contributor
Friday, September 2, 2016 @ 10:35 AM


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HELSTAR
Vampiro

2016 Ellefson Music Productions




Texas-based power metal pioneers HELSTAR have produced numerous classic metal albums over the years. (They released five studio albums between 1984 and 1995, then went mostly dormant for several years). Since their return in 2008, with The King Of Hell, then Glory Of Chaos (2010) and This Wicked Nest (2014), HELSTAR have really been raising their game. Vampiro, their ninth studio album, is a master stroke and arguably the best album in their career!

The current lineup of HELSTAR consists of vocalist James Rivera, guitarists Larry Barragan and Andrew Atwood, bassist Garrick Smith and drummer Michael Lewis. The now-prevalent subject of vampires, including Dracula and Nosferatu, were first addressed in metal by HELSTAR back in the ‘80s. The band are here to claim the subject as their own again, and no one really does it better than them. The appropriately-named Vampiro contains 11 brilliant tales of vampires and darkness. All the pieces have fallen perfectly into place for this album: the songwriting, the playing and the production. It’s all done impeccably this time.

The album actually begins rather delicately with the guarded gothic intro of “Awaken Unto Darkness”. The track kicks in at the four-minute mark and totally annihilates afterward. “Blood Lust” is vicious from the start, and what a great track it is! “To Dust You Will Become” is one of the best HELSTAR tracks ever written; nice work by Mr. Barragan. New guitarist Andrew Atwood contributed the fantastic track “Off With His Head”. This song is full of great twists and turns and a cool solo.

Track after track of killer heavy metal keeps on coming with “From The Pulpit To The Pit” and “To Their Deathbeds They Fell”. Instrumental intro “Malediction” precedes “Repent In Fire”, which has a powerful chant-along chorus. The awesomely-titled “Abolish The Sun” is another first person account of being a vampire. There is a wicked vocal performance from Rivera on this song. The next track, “Black Cathedral”, was the first single released from the album. This epic tale is the longest track on Vampiro at 7:39. Another classic and possibly the best song on the album. “Drink and you will see!” The album ends with Atwood’s “Dreamless Sleep”, a vampiric ballad featuring Rivera’s vocal accompanied by acoustic guitar and violin. Vampiro clocks in at around 58 minutes.

This lineup of HELSTAR has really impressed me. Vocalist James Rivera is one of the best in the business and he’s on fire here. He sings like a man possessed, this is his finest hour. Guitarist Larry Barragan has written some instant classics and his playing is spectacular. Guitarist Andrew Atwood’s fantastic playing and songwriting have really rounded out the band’s effort. Bassist Garrick Smith delivers on every track with precision. Michael Lewis’ drumming really takes Vampiro to another level. This is an inspiring performance.

Vampiro was released on August 26th through Ellefson Music Productions, the label of MEGADETH’s David Ellefson. If you are a power metal fan, you should add this album in your collection!

4.9 Out Of 5.0

Grab your copy of Vampiro in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.


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