The American Power Metal band HELSTAR, formed in 1982, came to my attention with the release of the album “Sins Of The Past” in 2007. See my review here. This was a collection of re-recorded songs off the older album added with two new songs that would also make it onto their next proper studio album, “The King Of Hell” (2008, review here). This was all very much to my liking and seeing they came to Belgium to play at Alcatraz Metal Festival (in 2009) made it complete. Anno 2010 the follow-up to “The King Of Hell” came out under the title “Glory Of Chaos” (review here). This was quite a step forward with more powerful and faster tracks.
Now, since the band is celebrating its 30th anniversary, a live release is due and this comes out as a DVD/2CD package, aptly titled “30 Years Of Hel”. It contains 20 tracks with songs from all albums, selected as follows:
“Burning Star” (1984): 3 tracks – see * in the tracklist below.
“Remnants Of War” (1986): 3 tracks – see ** in the tracklist below.
“A Distant Thunder” (1988): 3 tracks – see *** in the tracklist below.
“Nosferatu” (1989): 3 tracks – see **** in the tracklist below.
“Multiples Of Black” (1995): 1 track – see ***** in the tracklist below.
“The King Of Hell” (2008): 3 tracks – see ****** in the tracklist below.
“Glory Of Chaos” (2010): 4 tracks – see ******* in the tracklist below.
I’m not going to write about each song as most have been mentioned in previous reviews, so this review will be short. In addition, this review concerns the audio of the live performance, not the DVD. The sound is quite good, the guitars sound rough/raw enough, the drums however are very high in the mix. This is a common feature/problem (however you see it) on a lot of today’s Metal releases. It pushes the guitars to the back or prevents from hearing certain subtleties better.
In addition, James’s vocals also suffer a bit in the mix. The singing itself is good, but you can hear in the first song, “Angels Fall From Hell” he isn’t warmed up yet. But small as he is, he is fierce and gives his all, no question about that. However, the band clearly had a great time playing all those songs and it was nice to hear a track off “Multiples Of Black”, which apparently isn’t their best or among their best releases. I’m not familiar with the album, but seeing there’s only one track here, I reckon the rest of the band commonly agree HELSTAR’s best songs are to be found on the other albums.
In terms of song selection: the train speeds on nicely, there are a few slower passages, but overall it’s one powerful piece of live Metal here, with of course the occasional interaction with the crowd.
In short: HELSTAR fans can of course buy this blindly. If you’re already familiar (but not in a die-hard way) with this band, then yes, add “30 Years Of Hel” to your collection as well. It offers a nice live overview of the band’s repertoire and I don’t think there’s going to be a “60 Years Of Hel”, so you basically have no choice but to buy this. 🙂 What this release furthers contains besides the video and audio, I don’t know, but it will probably be interviews with the band and perhaps other historical moments. It remains to be seen, as the release is set for the end of August. To the band: congratulations with your 30th anniversary. Keep up the good work, enjoy it to the fullest and who knows, perhaps a “40 Years Of Hel” in 2022? 😉
- Angels Fall To Hell – *******
- Towards The Unknown – *
- Suicidal Nightmare – **
- The King Is Dead – ***
- Burning Star – *
- To Sleep Per Chance To Scream – ****
- The Plague Called Man – ******
- Evil Reign – **
- Monarch Of Bloodshed – *******
- Winds Of War – ***
- Good Day To Die – *****
- Wicked Disposition – ******
- Pandemonium – *******
- Bitter End – ***
- Harker’s Tale (Mass Of Death) – ****
- Angel Of Death – **
- Baptized In Blood – ****
- Alma Negra – *******
- The King Of Hell – ******
- Run With The Pack – *
James Rivera – vocals
Larry Barragan – guitars
Rob Trevino – guitars
Jerry Abarca – bass
Michael Lewis – drums