HELSTAR – This Wicked Nest

HELSTAR – This Wicked Nest

Poised to continue assaulting our senses in fierce power metal, Texas veterans Helstar appear to show no signs of slowing down on their eighth full length studio album "This Wicked Nest". A lot of times as consumers fear sets in when original members reunite 10-15 years after their first breakup – are the musicians returning for creative intentions or merely attempting to grab more cash as their previous discography gains bigger accolades from the community at large? Rest easy, my metal friends : Helstar firmly places their heart and soul into delivering 100% US metal, encompassing 30 years of their past while keeping an ear (and eye) on current recording and production values that make these 9 songs very explosive, vibrant, and memorable.

If you’ve followed the last two studio albums from Helstar (2008’s "The King of Hell" and 2010’s "Glory of Chaos") you’ll know that their sound is a little bit more straightforward and contains elements of thrash and black metal in terms of tone and tempo. Twin guitar harmonies still abound in a traditional manner- check out Larry Barragan and Rob Trevino’s opening salvos on "Fall of Dominion" and you’ll probably go back in your mind to Judas Priest and Vicious Rumors – until the up tempo steady chug riffs and thrash beats take over- along with James Rivera’s irreplaceable high screams and wide palate of word deliveries. "Eternal Black" kicks in next – a darker number very much in the Nevermore meets Forbidden vein, the stair step picking and left field transitions giving this track a sinister, twisted feel.

Those who love studying lead breaks will find plenty to enjoy as Barragan and Trevino straddle the line between shred competition and appropriate melodic feel for each individual song. James hasn’t lost one iota of his voice 30 + years down the line – check out the holding out of notes in the chorus for the title cut, or the versatile clean singing to caustic screams for the 7:28 epic ballad "Cursed" and tell me he isn’t in key and metal through and through.

Favorites change day to day: I’ll go this week to the thrash-tastic "Defy the Swarm" and the rhythmically hypnotic "Souls Cry" (reminding me of "Remnants of War" meets "A Distant Thunder") – but I can’t say there was a filler or throwaway of the nine songs here. Whether your tastes gravitate to power, speed, or thrash metal – "This Wicked Nest" should be mandatory in your collection, and proof that the old guard can still teach the current generation quite a bit about the genre.