Helstar
Vampiro


3.8
excellent

Review

by Voivod STAFF
October 4th, 2016 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Texans renovate their late ‘80s tech metal allure, to excellent effect.

With the release of Mardraum (less) and the follow-up behemoth of an album Monumension (more), Enslaved were part of the first serious attempts in mapping the common ground between black metal and progressive rock. However, at that time, relatively few fans aligned with the band’s newly proposed perspective, and as a result, the Norwegians discretely disclosed their disappointment in promotional interviews. Instantly memorable was the response concluding the Monumension promotional interview for Metal Hammer Hellas, quote “in this world, there’s nothing better than being fully understood for what you are trying to achieve with your art”. Enslaved’s quip feels analogous to a similar Bible saying quote “no one can become prophet in his/her homeland” which makes sense, as soon as the apparent correspondence between religion and the effect of music on people, is acknowledged.

Things were even worse for Helstar, following the release of Nosferatu in the late ‘80s. In contrast to today, where the album is considered legendary within the tech power/progressive metal circuit, no one liked it at that time, be it the press or fans. In fact, guitarist and founding member Larry Barragan, rivals every fan saying he/she worships Nosferatu, to show him a positive review for the album from the late ‘80s. Truth is that (and that assessment was reported in early-to-mid ‘90s retrospective reviews about the album in Greek hard copy metal media), while the music and lyrical concept were flawless and downright innovative, the sound production clouded the very content it was supposed to highlight, preventing less dedicated listeners from appreciating what was really under the hood. This is definitely not the case with Vampiro, in which the Texans have renovated their late ‘80s tech metal galore, to excellent effect.

Sound production makes sure Helstar’s technical/musical aptitude, is explicitly evident throughout the album. Crisp, clear and optimally modern, it forms the canvas upon which the band has painted the (much awaited by die-hard fans) rendition of the neoterism that was Nosferatu 28 years ago, also in terms of its unified lyrical concept. Helstar tread on familiar territory, the element of surprise is inherently absent, and yet Vampiro prompts for epileptic headbanging the old school way. The awesomely recurring crossover between pure heavy/speed and thrash metal parts, is the album’s main allure, along with a jaw-dropping classical music flair in both lead and rhythm guitars. Helstar’s proficiency brings in mind Germany’s Mekong Delta, only in terms of how seamlessly the classical music element is incorporated in power/thrash metal.

Some die-hard fans waiting for Helstar to revisit Nosferatu in the full-length releases that followed their 2008 reunion, were irrationally dissatisfied and vocal regarding the direction adopted in the last 2-3 albums, namely the affiliation to more modern (thrash) metal forms. In doing so, they refrain from reflecting on the fact that Nosferatu brought only mischief to the band in years to come, so it’s only natural that Helstar moved as far as possible, in terms of style. That said, however, time waits for no one, while the same applies for a band’s potential in doing things exactly the way it did during its period of youth; Helstar’s decision to go back to their roots, apart from being timely, it is downright successful, as along with an ensemble of new and old outfits (mostly from the States), they keep the beacons of old school metal lit.



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user ratings (19)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
PsychicChris (4.5)
If only all heavy metal sequel albums could be this awesome…...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Album stream: http://play.spotify.com/album/4iGZftAeU1PMwDLTepKXlT



As always, constructive criticism is most welcome.

Ebola
October 4th 2016


2891 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, really digging this so far. Need to revisit Nosferatu next. Had no idea these guys were from my home state; glad we have a metal band worth something besides Pantera.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Watchtower are from Texas as well.

bloc
October 4th 2016


47155 Comments


Wow I gotta hear this. I had no idea this band was still doing its thing

Digging: The Presets - Apocalypso

Ebola
October 4th 2016


2891 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Malediction riffs hard

Willie
Moderator
October 4th 2016


17389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

Personally, I'm not a fan of their 80s stuff at all. It doesn't surprise me that Nosferatu didn't get any positive reviews. On the other hand, the 2000s albums have all been really good. This one included.

Digging: Hypno5e - Alba - Les Hombres Errantes

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^I hear you but it's a bit odd (in general), because Vampiro is a slightly more refined Nosferatu plus the production the latter should had in the first place.

ChaoticVortex
October 4th 2016


567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't heard the album yet, but given how solid these guys have been in the last couple of years, I expect nothing but kickass riffs and other goodies. Really underrated band (but to be honest, besides Iced Earth most US power metal group falls into this category).

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^Check the album asap, you won't regret it.



When Iced Earth made their breakthrough, Century Media was becoming the new Noise Records, issuing several classics in a row, so the label was able to promote the band constantly and adequately.

bloc
October 4th 2016


47155 Comments


"Personally, I'm not a fan of their 80s stuff at all. It doesn't surprise me that Nosferatu didn't get any positive reviews. On the other hand, the 2000s albums have all been really good."

Willie sometimes I read your comments and then I see your avatar and my fist balls up lol

Willie
Moderator
October 4th 2016


17389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

Ha ha. I love my avatar. I used to change them all the time, but this one will probably last until I quit.

tempest--
October 5th 2016


20626 Comments


Nice review vod! Have never listened to this band, but they have been on my radar for some time..

Ebola
October 6th 2016


2891 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Willie your avatar is deadass one of the first things I remember from this site. Legendary

Geadom
October 6th 2016


3752 Comments


More tech thrash to check, nice

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 8th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^Technically, it's power/progressive metal but yeah, there's some tech thrash in it as well.

south_of_heaven 11
October 10th 2016


5499 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really enjoying this

ChaoticVortex
October 11th 2016


567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not as explosive and hard-hitting as This Wicked Nest, but still a strong record that maintains the high standard and consistency Helstar set themselves since the reunion. Also apart from the usual power/thrash riffing I feel major neoclassical/eastern vibes in songs like "Malediction" and "Repent in Fire". I'm glad that even after so many years veteran metal bands like Helstar still manage to make good music.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 13th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I liked the thrash-based style of the previous album as well.



Not sure if it's their best, since I haven't listened to The King of Hell yet.

TheNotrap
November 8th 2016


8685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"...where the album is considered legendary within the tech power/progressive metal circuit, no one liked it at that time, be it the press or fans."



Nosferatu flew under the radar in '89, but it had a considerable impact on a very specific niche of fans and musicians.



Nice review as usual Voivod.

Digging: Michael Schenker Group - The Michael Schenker Group

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2016


7740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Thanks man, I should spin this album sometime soon.



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