HELSTAR — Burning Star

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HELSTAR - Burning Star cover
4.14 | 14 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1984

Filed under US Power Metal


1. Burning Star (3:50)
2. Toward the Unknown (4:44)
3. Witch's Eye (3:02)
4. Run With the Pack (6:40)
5. Leather and Lust (3:26)
6. Possession (3:28)
7. The Shadows of Iga (5:00)
8. Dracula's Castle (4:51)

Total Time: 35:05


- Bill Lionel (James Rivera) / vocals
- Larry Barragan / guitars
- Tom Rogers / guitars
- Paul Medina / bass
- Hector Pavon / drums

About this release

Released by Combat records in 1984.

Thanks to Time Signature, Unitron, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Burning Star" is the debut full-length studio album by US heavy metal act Helstar. The album was released through Combat Records in 1984. Helstar were formed in 1981/1982 in Houston, Texas, and released a demo in 1983 before being signed by Combat Records for the release of "Burning Star".

Stylistically the music on the album is traditional heavy metal. Artists like early Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are valid references but Helstar put an American twist on the sound. It´s not US power metal yet though, as it´s still rooted too much in traditional heavy metal for that. The band are very well playing, and I especially noticed the many incredibly well played guitar solos and the strong vocals by James Rivera. The latter has a strong voice and a commanding delivery. He sings raw heavy metal type vocals and spice it up with som piercing high pitched screams. The rhythms and the guitar riffs are fairly standard for the genre, but still of a high quality.

The sound production is unpolished and raw, which is to be expected from a heavy metal album release from 1984. The sound suits the material well. All material on the 8 track, 35:05 minutes long album are well written, powerful, and cathy and upon conclusion "Burning Star" is a strong debut album by Helstar. The average age of the band members were supposedly around 19 years at the time, which makes the album an even more impressive release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is well deserved.
Helstar's debut album finds them bursting straight out of the gate with a solid selection of early 1980s-style US power metal songs. Were it not for the cheesy, rudimentary cover art of a spooky wizard on the front cover of the original Combat issue of the album, you'd be hard-pressed to guess that this was just their first album rather than the release of a seasoned, experienced band who'd mastered their craft. (The wizard artwork was replaced by the far superior spaceship illustration on most editions.)

Musically, we're talking catchy, raucous celebrations of pop culture, hedonism, and a bit of "Leather and Lust" - classic 1980s metal subject matter, in other words. The great thing about Helstar is that they can take that well-trod material and make it sound just as awe-inspiring and exciting as it was when you first heard someone singing about it, and even at this early stage of their career they'd already got the hang of that trick.
Burning Star is the debut studio album from US Power/thrash metal band Helstar.

Helstar is one of the few artists I can think of who's every single album is a masterpiece, and of course Burning Star was the album that started it all. This was the first album I had heard from the band, as well as perhaps the first metal album I owned myself. I grew up listening to classic hard rock, heavy metal, and thrash, but after Aerosmith and Rush really got me into music I had found Helstar at random. It was the greatest random find possible.

The music here is a mix of US power metal, classic heavy metal, speed metal, and a bit of proto-thrash metal. Already on their debut, Helstar had their own pretty unique sound with a wide range of metal styles. While you can hear influence from bands such as Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, and Rush (The Rush influence is especially heard in the beginning of "Run With the Pack"), the band manages to muster up their own distinct sound. The guitar riffs are razor-sharp, the drums are powerful, and James Rivera's vocals are absolutely killer. Just listen to his vocal performance on "Toward the Unknown", and that song is one of many reasons why he's among my favorite vocalists.

The title track is one of the best album openers, with a catchy as hell descending riff that really makes it sound like you're in the sky and going down in fire. Now you want to hear one of the best guitar solos ever made? Just check out the end of the solo, it sounds like a downward spiral into the abyss. "Witch's Eye" is another highlight, and the punchy main riff just kicks the listener in the gut. Rivera's vocals switch perfectly between a sneering bite to high pitched screams on both of these tracks.

Already on the debut with the song "Dracula's Castle", there is lyricism based around vampires, which would return as the concept album "Nosferatu". The rest of the lyrics follow your usual 80's metal lyricism of darkness, fantasy, etc. The title track, with it's menacing shredding, is reflected incredibly well with the sci-fi cover art. It really makes you feel like your flying through the stars, involved in a chaotic space battle.

This album holds a special place in my heart as not only an amazing album but also as the first metal album I ever owned myself and listened to a lot. I hadn't of listened to it in a while, but coming back to it I'm glad I still hear the magic. A classic, as well as one of my favorite albums of all time. Do yourself a favor and check this album and this band out.

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