Helstar – “Vampiro” (EMP Label Group)
Killer! This is by far the best Helstar album I’ve heard in years!!! Now on Dave Ellefson’s EMP label and with legendary Bill Metoyer (Slayer, WASP, Armored Saint, Sacred Reich) mixing, “Vampiro” takes me back to the early 80s with releases like “Nosferatu”. I mean, the twin guitars of founder Larry Barragan and Andrew Atwood are simply phenomenal – monster heavy hooks, mesmerizing classically inspired riffola and blinding hell fer leather solos – man, what more could you ask for?! Well, there’s the signature vocals of James Rivera – a legend in his own right having handled the mic for Malice, Vicious Rumors, Flotsam & Jetsam and probably a 1,000 other underground bands – as high as ever and always with that classy, operatic element adding a hint of the macabre to heaven (or maybe I should say hell) sent songs like ‘From The Pulpit To The Pit’, ‘To Dust You Will Become’ and ‘Off With His Head’. With Garrick Smith’s bass and some serious precision drumming from Mikey Lewis cementing the package, “Vampiro” is the complete circle from this renowned speed / thrash band formed 35 years ago who have seen it all but still continue to deliver the goods!