HELSTAR — Remnants of War (review)

HELSTAR — Remnants of War album cover Album · 1986 · US Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"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.
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