CD Review: Helstar – This Wicked Nest

CD Review: Helstar – This Wicked Nest
AFM Records
All Access Rating: A-

Helstar- This Wicked Nest 2014
A line in the sand was drawn with 2010's Glory Out of Chaos. Helstar leader James Rivera, he of the King Diamond-like wail, has stated unequivocally that " … we will not go any further into the extreme." 

And yet, after putting out an equally brutal new record called This Wicked Nest, available now on AFM Records, Helstar doesn't seem interested in toning down its intensity or aggressiveness. Seeing red and pawing at the ground, this enraged power/thrash metal Texas bull that's been around for more than 30 years rams its horns into a rugged, full-throttle succession of punishing tracks, each one angrier and more visceral than the last. 

With the blackened, doom-laden epic "Cursed" the exception to this harsh rule, its slow Sabbath-like crawl lashed with a mixture of anguish and hopeless futility, This Wicked Nest brings forth a pounding blitzkrieg of punishing tracks like "Eternal Black," "Souls Cry" and the stampeding, bone-crushing "It Has Risen," not to mention the sinister, brawling title track.

Once again venturing beyond its comfort zone, Helstar forms itself into a relentless sonic juggernaut, its blazing guitars and trampling, bludgeoning drums gaining more speed and energy as they propel themselves through the blistering, frenzied "Defy the Swarm," where Rivera, the former Vicious Rumors singer's vocal histrionics as high-flying and expressive as ever, goes where only Rob Halford dares. And guitarists Larry Barragan and Rob Trevino are just as potent throughout This Wicked Nest, their electrifying, bruising riffs full of white-hot intensity as they never fail to display increasingly dynamic technical skill. 

Slightly more melodic than its predecessor, there is evil, and some good, in the heart of This Wicked Nest, as well as defiance – the anti-tyranny sentiments expressed with such hostility in "Fall of Dominion," the song where Helstar's power-metal glory comes shining through in a fantastically intertwined twin-guitar helix. More compositional diversity and a variety of tempos would be welcome on the next Helstar release, but it's impossible to deny what a powerfully produced and vigorous performance this truly is. Indeed, something Wicked this way comes.
– Peter Lindblad

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