I often contemplate the longevity of heavy metal and I’ve surmised it’s more than just power cords, aggression and an undying devotion to a genre, it’s the undeniable talent of the artists drawn to it.

Although, there’s talented artists to be found in every style of music, heavy metal has been blessed with a multitude. The incomprehensible careers of many of these groups only reinforces the thought process that talent provides durability and extends life.

Helstar is a group I grew up with, I vividly remember jamming them along with Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest and Dio because they all had the same thing in common, a powerfully identifiable vocalist.

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Helstar have been an active moniker since 1981 but the group has really stepped out of the shadows with their 9th studio effort, Vampiro. All bullshit aside, this album fucking rocks and I must admit it took me completely off guard. In my mind, Helstar hasn’t been relevant in ‘the scene’ since 1989’s Nosferatu. They fell into what I refer to as ‘nostalgia act status’. A band that occasionally releases new material, nobody buys, but you still see them live because they play those ‘old songs’.  It’s a coffin few groups are able to rise out of but James Rivera is a vampire it was my mistake to not expect anything less.

Helstar still has original members James Rivera (Vocals) and Larry Barragan (Guitar) as well as veteran drummer Michael Lewis but I think the new blood, Andrew Atwood (Guitar) and Garrick Smith (Bass) have made a significant impact. The Helstar sound has been updated, an aggressive blending of the classic metal vibe. The lyrics are filled with unholy tales of blood and battle laced with just enough memorable refrains to keep you coming back. Highlight tracks for me are: “Awaken Unto Darkness”, “Blood Lust”, “Off with His Head”, “To Their Death Beds They Fell”, “Repent in Fire” and “Black Cathedral”.

Helstar have proven they are still a forced to be reckoned with. I command you to rise out of the ground and check out this vampiric release! \m/

Helstar are:

  • Larry Barragan – Guitars
  • Michael Lewis – Drums
  • James Rivera – Vocals
  • Andrew Atwood – Guitars
  • Garrick Smith – Bass


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