Released: 2009, Black Devil Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
It's been five years since long running thrashers Hirax have released a full length studio album and the band has really thrown down the gauntlet with EL ROSTRO DE LA MUERTE complete with killer Ed Repka cover art, mixed by Andy Haller at Android Audio (Ozzy Osbourne, Hardline) mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Rob Halford, Yngwie Malmsteen, F5, Lita Ford,Sigh) and recorded by John Haddad at Trench Studio.
"Baptized by Fire" the first of the album's fourteen tracks begins with a spoken word sample "I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making another poor bastard die for his country." A cutting riff follows with full on ripping wah-wah pedal lead guitar as the rest of the band kicks into gear. Katon's vocals are as crazy pissed off as ever. His classic mix of nerve shattering screaming coupled with traditional metal wailing makes for a headbanging concoction of breakneck thrash. "Flesh and Blood" is next and continues the theme started on the previous track with another wartime sample spoken over machine gun fire. Guitar divebombs give way to a more straight forward mid tempo approach, double bass drums pounding their way along as the tandem of Glenn Rogers and Lance Harrison trade off some blistering leads.
"Chaos and Brutality", the album's fourth number, is a bonus track originally released through the European label SelfMadeGod Records in 2007 and is a pretty cool addition. "Battle of the North" has some old school heavy metal inspired dual leadwork, some really great harmonies up for offer on this track but an underlying heaviness also abounds. "Death Militia" and "Violent Assault" make for a pummelling second half of "side two" of this disc and Katon's wife Anne De Pena leaves her mark on "Cuando Cae la Oscuridad (When Darkness Falls)" a haunting keyboard instrumental. EL ROSTRO DE LA MUERTE comes to an end with "Satan's Fall" a song that had previously appeared on a split with FKU.
I would strongly recommend this album to both Hirax's die hard fans and metalheads looking for a good introduction as to what this five piece thrash metal band is all about. EL ROSTRO DE LA MUERTE has great songs, good production and great performances from Hirax.