HELSTAR

US Power Metal / Thrash Metal • United States
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Helstar began its quest in 1982. The line up consisted of James Rivera (A.K.A Bill Lionel) (vocals), Larry Barragan (guitar), Tom Rogers (guitar), Hector Pavon (drums) and Paul Medina (bass). By 1984 the band had signed with Combat Records and recorded its first album entitled "Burning Star". The average age of the band at that time was 19! After gaining much critical acclaim, the band began to splinter because of their management situation. It was at this time that James and Larry decided to part ways with the rest of the band and guide Helstar in a new direction.

Helstar recorded "Remnants of War" in 1985 with a new and powerful line up. Jerry Abarca, Rob Treviño, and drummer Rene Luna joined the band and released "Remnants" in 1986 for Combat records. Once again the band received much praise from around the world. Helstar embarked on its first US tour
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HELSTAR Discography

HELSTAR albums / top albums

HELSTAR Burning Star album cover 3.94 | 16 ratings
Burning Star
US Power Metal 1984
HELSTAR Remnants of War album cover 4.12 | 17 ratings
Remnants of War
US Power Metal 1986
HELSTAR A Distant Thunder album cover 4.55 | 20 ratings
A Distant Thunder
US Power Metal 1988
HELSTAR Nosferatu album cover 4.34 | 20 ratings
Nosferatu
US Power Metal 1989
HELSTAR Multiples of Black album cover 4.53 | 8 ratings
Multiples of Black
Thrash Metal 1995
HELSTAR The King of Hell album cover 4.45 | 10 ratings
The King of Hell
Thrash Metal 2008
HELSTAR Glory of Chaos album cover 4.22 | 11 ratings
Glory of Chaos
Thrash Metal 2010
HELSTAR This Wicked Nest album cover 4.62 | 7 ratings
This Wicked Nest
Thrash Metal 2014
HELSTAR Vampiro album cover 4.11 | 9 ratings
Vampiro
US Power Metal 2016

HELSTAR EPs & splits

HELSTAR live albums

HELSTAR Twas the Night of a Helish Xmas album cover 1.50 | 4 ratings
Twas the Night of a Helish Xmas
US Power Metal 2000
HELSTAR 30 Years of Hel album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
30 Years of Hel
Thrash Metal 2012

HELSTAR demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

HELSTAR 1983 demo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
1983 demo
US Power Metal 1983
HELSTAR Live demo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live demo
US Power Metal 1983
HELSTAR Demolition album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Demolition
US Power Metal 1990
HELSTAR 1993 demo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
1993 demo
US Power Metal 1993
HELSTAR Promo Demo 1993 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo Demo 1993
US Power Metal 1993

HELSTAR re-issues & compilations

HELSTAR The James Rivera Legacy album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
The James Rivera Legacy
US Power Metal 2001
HELSTAR Sins of the Past album cover 4.21 | 3 ratings
Sins of the Past
US Power Metal 2007
HELSTAR Rising From The Grave album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Rising From The Grave
US Power Metal 2010

HELSTAR singles (0)

HELSTAR movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Burning Alive
US Power Metal 2006

HELSTAR Reviews

HELSTAR Remnants of War

Album · 1986 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Remnants of War" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US heavy/power metal act Helstar. The album was released through Combat Records in August 1986. Although "Burning Star (1984)" received a lot of positive reactions, Helstar had a lot of issues with personal struggles within the band and with their management, and lead vocalist James Rivera and guitarist Larry Barragan decided that changes were needed and replaced the three other members of the lineup who recorded the debut album. Guitarist Tom Rogers was replaced by Robert Trevino, bassist Paul Medina was replaced by Jerry Abarca, and drummer Hector Pavon was replaced by Rene Luna.

Lineup changes or not, the traditional heavy metal sound of "Burning Star (1984)" is more or less continued on "Remnants of War". At least to a certain extent, because Helstar have developed their style a bit since the debut and they are slightly more hard edged on "Remnants of War", which features US power metal leanings. The musicianship is on a high level on all posts, but that was the case on the debut too, so the most significant upgrade is in the songwriting department. The material on "Remnants of War" simply reeks class. It´s raw, powerful, and memorable heavy/power metal and the skillful delivery of the music further enhances the feeling that you´re experiencing something pretty special. The riffs are powerful, the solos well played and melodic, the rhythm section rock solid and relatively adventurous for the style, and James Rivera delivers his distinct sounding vocals with both conviction and great passion. His piercing high pitched screams are great but he is able to sing in lower registers too.

Recorded at Mad Dog Studios, Venice, California, USA, with producer Randy Burns, "Remnants of War" features a powerful, detailed, and well sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. So upon conclusion "Remnants of War" is a quality sophomore studio album by Helstar and to my ears a clear step up from the otherwise great debut album. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

HELSTAR Burning Star

Album · 1984 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"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 Glory of Chaos

Album · 2010 · Thrash Metal
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Warthur
Glory of Chaos is not quite as strikingly groundbreaking as Helstar's classic run of early US Power Metal albums - it's not even in the same style, to begin with, the band having shifted gear to an aggressive, screamy, Exodus-with a-bad-hangover style of thrash metal, and thrash is a field which feels like there's very little genuinely new to accomplish there. Nonetheless, despite shifting from one well-trod genre to an even more well-trod genre with more competition, Helstar still manage to turn in a quality album which stands out from the pack - not so much that I consider it particularly essential, but enough so that if you cannot get enough thrash you could do way, way worse than giving Helstar a fair shake.

HELSTAR Burning Star

Album · 1984 · US Power Metal
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Warthur
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.

HELSTAR Vampiro

Album · 2016 · US Power Metal
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Nightfly
Over more recent years Helstar have been responsible for some very good to excellent thrash/power metal albums, the last being 2014’s This Wicked Nest. Whilst this leant heavily towards thrash their earlier work was more in the traditional metal and US power metal style. I have to be honest and say I never knew what all the fuss was about with A Distant Thunder which I know is loved by many but for me things improved when the thrash started creeping in. I know a lot of fans prefer this era but I feel they’ve hit a rich vein of late releasing much of their best work yet. Vampiro sees a partial return to earlier times with less emphasis on the thrash elements.

Not for the first time have Helstar visited the realms of Vampires. Long-time fans will remember 1989’s Nosferatu, a firm favourite of many and their debut also contained a song called Dracula’s Castle. Awaken Into Darkness kicks things off and compared to Fall Of Dominion, the opener on This Wicked Nest its relatively subdued with a more melodic sensibility though with James Rivera’s histrionic vocal style it’s business as usual. Now don’t get the idea that this isn’t still heavy stuff and if confirmation were needed mid-song they up the pace and hit thrash mode. Following track Blood Lust also sits well with recent albums but overall a more measured approach is the order of the day on a fair proportion of the rest but we are talking relatively speaking here. Nevertheless, this is still great stuff packed with powerful and memorable riffs and there’s plenty of pace in much of the material. The rhythm section is solid as a rock with drummer Michael Lewis being joined by new bassist Garrick Smith. Andrew Atwood is the other new member joining life sentence original member Larry Barragan in the guitar department making an impressive pairing with some compelling lead work too.

Vampiro is an excellent piece of work and anyone who’s enjoyed Vicious Rumors more recent albums should also find plenty to get stuck into here. As already mentioned, whilst not abandoning the thrash there’s more of a US power metal feel to much of this, but the albums none the worse for it and although not necessarily better is the equal of most of their past releases.

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