Released: 2008, AFM Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The legendary Helstar´s first real studio album with totally new songs, in 13 long years, is - to say it in the most modest way possible - truly worth the wait. A metal band that kicked their career off in Houston, Texas in 1981 when the band members were just kids, have come a long way since then, and have released a very respectable amount of fantastic albums - perhaps the most classic and most appreciated Helstar albums being BURNING STAR (1984), REMNANTS OF WAR (1986), A DISTANT THUNDER (1988) and NOSFERATU (1989) from the top of the pile.
With the band´s new album, THE KING OF HELL, Helstar throw such awe-inspiring cards on the table that it will be hard to beat as far the band´s most enjoyable and entertaining album is concerned. As good as their albums like NOSFERATU or A DISTANT THUNDER or just any other albums are, I think the band´s latest output beats them all with more variety, a heavier-than-ever-approach, more riff work, more dynamics and more of everything actually - sounding more balanced and than anything they have done before. Damn, it´s THE RIFFS (that are strongly dominating the song structures everywhere on this album) - added with James Rivera´s always so brilliant vocals, plus overall Helstar´s unique ability to make each of their songs so masterfully executed, which undoubtedly makes one wonder how they can always maintain their top-notch songwriting at this level.
THE KING OF HELL is content-wise, a perfect mixture of speed, splendid thrashy riffs, stick-in-your-mind melodies, well-crafted hooks, superb solos, James´ outstandingly great vocalism (man, he´s got such a wide range of vocal styles - from a flawless ´note-to-note´ singing to very high-pitched screams) and everything else that provides a listener with quite an unforgettable journey into the magnificent realm of Helstar´s powerful thrash. The whole album is kind of a wet dream for every thrash fan - blessing each of us with some of the finest and most essential elements of speed and thrash metal that can possibly be found within this music genre. Any deeper and more in-depth analysing of this masterpiece named THE KING OF HELL, is unnecessary because one truly needs to hear it in order to believe the brilliance of this new Helstar record.
I´m simply amazed by the fact that Helstar haven´t achieved the same popularity and success among the metal fans worldwide - like say, Exodus, or Anthrax, or Kreator or any other established thrash metal band that has managed to reach thousands of people with their albums thus far. So go and buy their albums because Helstar - more than any other long-term metal band - needs to be pushed toward the same pile of most popular thrash bands of today, with YOUR help, dear fans. THE KING OF HELL is a definite metal album winner of 2008 - not a single doubt!