Monthly Archives: October 2010

Helstar-Glory of Chaos

The first time I heard about Helstar was in the pages of Hit Parader. The magazine had a feature on new bands with Houston’s own Helstar there and the first words mentioned was “Jose Elliot Chupa Los Huevos“. This was the bands response to Def Leppard singer Joe Elliot greeting the audience in Texas with “ How are all you wetbacks doing?” The Englishman made a mistake in slang that was easily forgotten in the pre-internet age. However, seeing that there was a band from my city in this national magazine along with Kiss and Iron Maiden made me a fan of theirs. Helstar delivered some really good metal releases through the years but like many, lack of big success along with time caused them to split.
Original members, singer James Rivera, guitarists Larry Barragan and Robert Trevino, bassist Jerry Abarca, along with drummer Mike Lewis have joined together and released Glory of Chaos a fantastic metal endeavor that stacks up well with not only their catalog but all of metal’s. What strikes you initially is how well James’ voice still sounds. He has always had a unique voice that is able to hit the high notes but also retains a lot of power. It still resonates well  and its’ intensity is complimented well with the music. While the band has always been metal they seem to have kicked up the testosterone on this one.  The aptly named “Pandemonium” and “Bone Crusher” help to kick off Glory Of Chaos with such intensity but it does not fall into the throwback metal cliché that is running rampant nowadays. Incredibly quick, precise, and heavy guitars pour over huge rhythms’ that just keep pounding throughout all 10 tracks. It all culminates with  “Alma Negra” a nut buster of a song that will cause many trips to the emergency room with all the damage that it will cause by sweaty dudes slamming into each other in the pit.
When they first came out Helstar may have gotten lost in the shuffle with all the bands that were out at that time. Glory of Chaos should help ensure that the band finally get its’ due.

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Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire-Songs Of Ill Hope and Desperation

If you have ever been to the palatial worldwide headquarters of heavy As Fuck, you know of the plethora of CD’s that litter the mail room. With so man to chose from it can be tough on decided on which ones to listen to. Being the metal guru that I am, any cover that has a dragon, or skull or scantily clad lady always ensures listening. If you happen to have all three, you go to the top of the stack. The other way is to have such an unusual name that you stand out. That is how I chose Clinging To The Trees Of a Forest Fire. Bad grammar aside, how could you resist that?
Now on to the music, the band describes themselves as a mixture of grindcore and doom. That is actually a apt one, since their sound has the fastness,  punkyness and shouty-ness of grindcore that gets accented with the  slow and heavy of doom.  That combination, while at odds with one another, gives the band a uniqueness that helps separate them. You go from a one minute bash fest of  “Shat At My Bones” to 5-minutes of desolation and haunting of “Gold Frankincense & Myth”. That pattern is repeated throughout the album giving it a b-polar nature.
The band has a very misanthropic lyrical approach that calling it cynical or pessimistic would not be enough. While understanding the lyrics would be tough due to the vocal stylings, just by looking at songs titled “Bouquet of Self Pity”,  “I Walked Away From the Human race”, and “They Smeared Shit on Their Skin So they Could Blend In At Night” Those three alone should let you know that there are no shoe-gazing, emo wannabe songs from this group. It is safe to say that their words are as brash and gloomy as their music.
While Clinging is a unique band there just wasn’t a lot to grab on to. While this music does have a certain  “stay away” ethos to it, it comes across as crazy for the sake of being crazy. Stylistically, the abrasiveness seems to me the main desire not necessarily a song. Which I think will keep most Metal fans away from this. Fans of grindcore may like this but they may be turned off by the slow passages.

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Black Country Communion-Black Country

People  are going to say supergroup when talking about Black Country Communion. While the band does have an impressive line-up; singer Glenn Hughes, keyboardist Derek Sherinian, drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Joe Bonamassa. Saying that they are a supergroup is a reach. What they are is a nice band that has just released their debut CD Black Country, a collection of blues rock songs that show why Glenn Hughes is such a great singer.
The songs on Black Country are predominately blues rock and that is right in the wheelhouse for Bonamassa’s playing and fits Hughes voice to a T.  The appropriately snaky groove in “Medusa” showcases Hughes emotional blues wail along with some ripping guitar playing from Bonamassa. Even though it is almost 7 minutes in length, the simple riff never gets old.  The band really hits is stride on the straight ahead rocker “Black Country”. While the other songs show that Glenn still has the feeling this song shows that he still has the power. ”One Last Soul” is the standout track that has a tasty chorus and feels like a real band song.
Black Country Communion succeeded in making a group of 4 well-know musicians make an album that sounds like a band. Black Country is a nice sum of the parts and shows some promise for future releases.

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