Helstar Rising from the Grave

Helstar Rising from the Grave
A double-CD reissue of two old albums from Texas trad metallers Helstar, packaged with a reissue of a DVD (2000's unfortunately named Twas the Night of a Helish X-mas), is a damn good idea, as these guys still need some help getting out of the underdog realm. Things kick off with 1988's A Distant Thunder, which still sounds great: 43 minutes of very 1988-sounding traditional metal, complete with melodramatic vocalizing (care of almost-legendary metal wailer James Rivera) that really could only have been considered "good" back in 1988, but charms in a nostalgic way today. The guitar work also set this band apart; there is some impressively dexterous fretwork going down on tunes like album highlight "Abandon Ship." 1989's Nosferatu is up next; the album found the band toying with thrashier tendencies and employing even more serious chops in the playing, as on the mighty "To Sleep, Per Chance to Scream" and aptly titled shred-fest "Perseverance and Desperation." Often considered their masterpiece, this moody and technically impressive album has held up well. It's naïve to think this reissue will give this band the attention they deserve; it is nice to know this music will be back on store shelves for a while though. (Metal Blade)