The Bay Area of California is well known for it’s contributions to the thrash world. It has a definitive feel and sound that cannot be denied. The legacies of thrash titans such as Metallica, Exodus and Testament remain unrivaled in today’s metal world, yet many other bands from the scene didn’t quite get the recognition of their counterparts. Death Angel, Violence and Hirax are among this group, yet some of these bands have re-emerged in the last few years with the best albums of their careers.
Katon W. De Pena has flown the Hirax flag for 30-plus years. Although they only released five albums in this time span, their thrash roots are undeniable. Their new release, Immortal Legacy, brings back an edge and raw quality to this genre and it reflects some of their best work. Lance Harrison‘s rhythm and lead guitar playing here is nothing short of amazing, while the rhythm section – Jorge Iacobellis on drums and Steve Harrison on bass – leaves nothing to desire here either.
“Black Smoke” opens this opus up with a vengeance and there is a true thrash speed and feel. It may be just me, but I’ve always thought Katon sounded a bit like Blitz from Overkill. “Hellion Rising,” which was previously released on a split with Sodom, is a thrash overture. It truly defines this genre. I absolutely love the rawness projected here. The galloping wall of razor blades will have you snarling and headbanging immediately. “Victims of the Dead” may slow things up a tiny bit, but this is Katon’s turn to shine. The chorus is infectious and evil. “Thunder Roar, The Conquest, La Boca de la Bestia” may be the longest song title ever, and it is the highlight of the album for me. It just epitomizes the Bay Area sound and grind. Starting off with an adventure in harmonious guitars, the song crescendos into your face with a crunch only previously heard on Metallica‘s Kill ’em All! “Earthshaker” is a 43 second adventure into Harrison’s guitar abilities, “Tied to the Gallows Pole” brings about more thrashy epicness. The guitar work shreds.
What Hirax have done here is timeless. They have taken a much-lauded genre of music, kept its sound and feel, and have made it relevant and new. This is a must own!
Immortal Legacy is out now on Steamhammer/SPV Records.
Rating: 5/5 stars