Released: 2017, AFM Records
Argentina’s bests known metal band has just completed their latest album in FIRESOUL. The band continues their trend of long gapes between releases, but in this instance, it was time well-spent tweaking and refining the songs. FIRESOUL also has the distinction of being the second album by the band to be released with English vocals instead of the Spanish of the first 3 albums.
After a brief and (expected) music intro, the crashing aggression of “Fight” leads off the album in proper, if unsurprising fashion. Just a few seconds in and it is clear that Helker has not changed their approach in the least. Diego Valdez’s powerful and distinctive vocals are an enviable combination of Ralf Scheepers, Dio, Ripper Owens and the barest hint of Graham Bonnet. Primal Fear is the chief inspiration musically, with a blend of Mystic Prophecy thrown in on this tune. “For All The Eternity” is slightly different, employing more upbeat major melodies to complement the heavier passages, with an uplifting chorus. “The One” is a perfect example of how versatile and Valdez can be with his delivery, almost sounding like a different singer. The music is more mid-paced, blending traditional mid-80’s power metal with modern AOR.
The Dio-esque “Where You Belong” is uncanny in how closely it resembles the late master, and will doubtless have many people believing it is a lost Dio tune on first listen. Only “Empty Room” seems to upset the balance, an out-of-place piano power ballad that feels forced. Concluding the album is a cover of Sabbath’s “Neon Knight”, faithfully adhering to the original but with added heft and crunch. Valdez nails it, but an even better tribute is the band’s own previously mentioned “Where You Belong.”
FIRESOUL delivers 14 songs, and only one can be considered suspect; not a bad ratio. The guitar solos are abundant and fluidly executed and the sound is balanced and professional, no different than hundreds of modern mastered metal albums. If any shade could be thrown at Helker, it is that they are not doing anything original, and occasionally sail the ship to close to the coast of other bands. Overall though, these minor annoyances do nothing to detract from the solid and enjoyable metal that Helker delivers. Recommended for Dio, Mystic Prophecy, and Primal Fear fans.