Released: 2009, Thrash Corner Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
One of the longest running thrash metal bands, Hirax, are back with their fourth full-length studio album, EL ROSTO DE LA MUERTE (“The Face of Death”). The band has released several EPs, put out a couple of DVDs, been featured on split and compilation albums – and overall keeping their name above the surface since they were formed in 1984. Everything they have released, I have liked so far – and the band´s latest album EL ROSTO DE LA MUERTO is gladly no exception to that rule either.
Even if I really enjoy their latest work very much, it´s naturally no sequel to the band´s classic 1st two albums, RAGING VIOLENCE (1985) and HATE, FEAR AND POWER (1986). Many bands´ first 2 albums are considered as “classics” – the best works of their career anyway, and that is the case with Hirax as well – no matter how good and well-made they have managed to make their songs to sound like on their latest studio album.
Nevertheless, Hirax´s musical balls have grown big and more hairy over the years, and what I find great about them is the fact they haven´t sacrificed any of their uncompromising sound within these 3 decades, but stayed very loyal and truthful to their underground-ish sound that has always defined the band´s unique sound from one release to another.
EL ROSTO DE LA MUERTO keeps the band´s status up as that one and only Hirax that is still loaded with Katon W. de Pena´s unique vocal style (btw, has anyone else also noticed that he has a quite similar tone in his voice on this album to Steve ´Zetro´ Souza – or vice versa?), Glenn´s and Lance´s ever-sharp touch to some killer, piercing riffing and striking solos and both Steve and Jorge backing up frenzied thrash metal extravaganza with their convincing bass and drum performances. Despite the 14 songs on EL ROSTO DE LA MUERTE altogether, you cannot get bored with this album – thanks to a lot of variation and different song lengths that the record has been blessed with. 3 of the 14 songs on this album, have even reached 5-6 minutes in song length (“Flesh and Blood”, the title track of the album and “Satan´s Fall”), and my personal opinion is that they saved the best song for the end of the record, which is that aforementioned “Satan´s Fall”. It´s one intense, mid-tempo thrasher, in which Katon does one of his best vocal performances ever in my sincere opinion – singing and screaming like a noble, crowing rooster among his thousands of hens, being ready and willing in his reproductive duties.
What EL ROSTO DE LA MUERTE is actually, it´s, first and foremost, a very good old school thrash metal album, capturing this strong Hirax trademark of vicious and relentless thrash sound all over it. Now having said all this, I wanna also state that Hirax has yet again failed to record a bad album in their whole career, so that fact itself deserves some respect, right fellow metalheads? ;o)