Published on August 20th, 2016 | by Justin G.
I’m not sure which is most exciting: that long-running Texas-based heavy metal legends Helstar are back with a new studio album, or that the new album, titled Vampiro, revisits themes from their all-time classic Nosferatu album. Prior to buying my copy of Vampiro, I got the chance to see Helstar play live, and the first half of their set was a vampire-themed intermingling of Nosferatu and Vampiro songs. The transition between the two albums’ material was seamless, which tells me Helstar successfully captured that classic vibe on this new album.
Vampiro is the band’s ninth studio album, and it keeps alive a trend Helstar started when they came back from a hiatus at the end of the last decade. That trend being the release of one high-energy, high-quality heavy metal album after another. It’s been more than 30 years since the Helstar debut and the band sounds just as vital and inspired as ever. Revisiting the Nosferatu theme definitely seemed to help here, giving the band a classic frame of reference as well as a sinister subject to go with the wicked riffs found on Vampiro.
And of course I can’t talk about a Helstar album without covering James Rivera’s vocal performance. Highs, lows, screams – he continues to amaze, and continues to combine sheer power with a sense of storytelling. You get the full effect on songs like “Black Cathedral” and “From the Pulpit to the Pit.” Other highlights on Vampiro include “Blood Lust” and “Off With His Head,” but there really isn’t a bad track to be found here.
Helstar hasn’t disappointed since returning to the metal scene, and they definitely haven’t started here. Vampiro is another killer release, and is on par with recent albums like Glory of Chaos and This Wicked Nest. Is it the equal of Nosferatu? Probably not, but then, not a lot of metal albums are. If you’re already a Helstar fan, you can buy this one with confidence. If you’re a fan of classic-sounding heavy metal that combines power and thrash metal elements (think Vicious Rumors, Sanctuary and Metal Church), and somehow haven’t heard Helstar, Vampiro ought to be more than enough to make you a believer.
Summary: Helstar + vampires = Awesome!