Review – Helstar: Glory of Chaos (Limited Edition)

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Review – Helstar: Glory of Chaos (Limited Edition)
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Helstar: Glory of Chaos (Limited Edition)
Power Metal, Speed Metal
AFM Records
February 8, 2011
Release length: 54:44
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Helstar is no stranger to the Metal world. The group formed in Houston, Taxes back in 1982, issuing five full-length releases before disbanding around 1995, only to reunite again in 2006. Since then, the group stormed back onto the scene with The King of Hell, which appears to have gone drastically overlooked in the Metal community. Glory to Chaos makes the band’s second full-length effort since reuniting, as well as their seventh total since they formed. Does this latest effort from these overlooked Power/Speed Metal musicians have what it takes to draw the attention they so rightly deserve?

If the opening to “Angels Fall to Hell” is any indication of what’s to come on this release, then the answer to that question is a simple and impeccable “Hell yeah!” The bass drop that occurs with the perfectly timed slamming in of music from the introduction is perfect and will leave goosebumps behind and a shiver down the spine of the listener. But, that’s the most impressive aspect of the song. “Angels Fall to Hell” is far from a bad song, but it just doesn’t quite live up to the expectation that such a dominant, commanding start to the track deserves. It’s a bit of a let down, but that’s about it. The music of the song comes at the listener in a faster pace, about what you would expect, and the band’s ability to blend Speed Metal fury and technicality with the melodic aspects of Power Metal is great on this and plenty of other tracks, and the song is rather catchy, making for a good start to the album that is maintained throughout much of the release.

It’s actually rather hard to go into detail about this album with its pros and cons. The music to Glory of Chaos isn’t bad at all, and is rather enjoyable for what it is, mostly due to how well the band manages to combine Power and Speed Metal throughout each song, such as on “Pandemonium”, a predominantly Power Metal track that periodically goes into Speed Metal bridges, and vice-versa with “Bone Crusher”. The vocals are about what you would expect as well, being a decent range, sometimes having a raspier approach that is harmonized, or somewhat screamed, mostly during the chorus, to a nasally falsetto clean singing approach that goes from low to high pitches. But, with all that said, the main issue with this release is that is sadly lacks a strong bite. The production isn’t to blame, and the music on here is often intense, or can be rather catchy from a Power Metal standpoint. But, even with these positive aspects highlighted, some are going to like this album, and some won’t. The music isn’t well done and performed, but it lacks any real kick, sometimes, and the many shifts in musical approaches in the songs wind up hurting the album too, as sometimes there’s just too many, making it hard to fully latch onto a song. The music also feels like it follows a standard pattern, and just doesn’t really offer anything jaw dropping or spectacular. And while the vocals stand out and offer a nice range, outside the higher falsetto, they sound weak and uninterested in the recording, also being a bit bland and generic.

But, if you pursue through this release, you will happen on a few gems. “Angels Fall to Hell”, as pointed out, is still an enjoyable song and sets the tone for the album nicely. “Deth Trap” is actually a good song that feels a little more energetic than a number of other songs on here, focusing more on intensity with a commanding attitude then throwing in a melodic sound. “Anger” is also the same, but the vocals really feel a little more energetic, especially thanks to the raspy shouting that goes on, and it just feels like a more solid track, because of that extra effort, especially in the vocals. “Trinity of Heresy” really offers something different from the rest of the release thanks to its clean singing ballad-like section, and once again the song just feels like it has some great energy behind it musically thanks to it’s faster chugging approach, but the vocals just feel a little monotone when the music kicks in, which is a flaw that hits many songs despite the range thew vocalist has. The album closes off amazingly with “Alma Negra”, which is simply fantastic. It’s heavy. It’s intense. It’s fast. The vocals are strong, energetic, and don’t sound monotone and repetitive in the varying range of pitches and tones. This is the type of song the band should have concentrated on. However it also leads the listener to wonder if the album was intentionally set up this way as a conceptual piece, as Glory of Chaos starts off so rocky, then just picking up gradually starting with “Deth Trap”.


The Limited Edition version of Glory of Chaos comes with two bonus cover songs. Up first is the band’s cover of “Heavy Metal Thunder”, originally by Saxon. It’s a pretty respective cover, trying to stick to the original composition without really offering the band’s own spin on the song. It’s not bad, and it’s a nice little addition to the release. For the second cover, the band takes a more original stab at “Animal Magnetism” by Scorpions, and it honestly isn’t all that enjoyable. Yes, it has a little more power behind it then the original version does, but the slower nature of the song winds up feeling repetitive, and given the issues on the earlier tracks of the release, this really just doesn’t work.


So, for the latter part of the release, Glory of Chaos does feature some heavier, more intense and energetic material that is quite impressive at times. However, the start of the album gets your hopes up with the opening of “Angels Fall to Hell”, only to meet material that is good, but just doesn’t have that bite or edge to it that is needed, especially with the monotone vocal range outside the higher falsettos. Helstar put a good foot forward, but in the end it’s just not enough, and had more songs like “Alma Negra” been included on this release, the more trivial songs probably wouldn’t hold the release back as much. It’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of the band, or want to experience them for the first time. The Limited Edition does feature the two bonus tracks, but it’s not worth blowing a substantial amount of excuse money to get. Glory of Chaos could have been a much stronger album, pure and simple, especially when the genuinely good tracks are at the end, and the basic dulled-edge tracks are what start the album off.


01. Angels Fall to Hell – 5:01
02. Pandemonium – 4″24
03. Monarch of Bloodshed – 5:14
04. Bone Crusher – 5:04
05. Summer of Hate – 5:48
06. Dethtrap – 3:54
07. Anger – 3:53
08. Trinity of Heresy – 4:40
09. Alma Negra – 5:41
10. Zero One – 0:56

Limited Edition:
11. Heavy Metal Thunder (Saxon cover) – 4:02
12. Animal Magnetism (Scorpions cover) – 6:01

Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Limited Edition Score: 7.5/10

Helstar
Helstar

Digital review copy of this release provided by AFM Records
via Earsplit PR.