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Hirax released two essential thrash albums in the 80s with their debut full length Raging Violence in 1985 and the follow up Hate, Fear and Power in 1986. After that the band never really managed to capture the sound and energy of those two albums and a revolving set of musicians probably didn’t help either. Be that as it may, sole surviving original member and vocalist Katon W. De Pena has deemed it fit to resurrect the band once again and with mostly the same line up that released 2007s Assassins Of War ep, release the bands fourth full length El Rostro de la Muerte.
What Hirax did superbly back in the day was fuse metal and hardcore with De Pena’s manic, almost speed metal like vocals on the top of some blistering riffs that were always played at full speed. That formula hasn’t really changed. Album opener Baptized by Fire sounds like it could have easily been on Hate, Fear and Power and is a terrific start to the album, Flesh and Blood sounds like the bastard child of Metallica and The Accused and as De Pena lets his vocals soar on Eradicate Mankind you’re looking at a really strong start to the album. Chaos and Brutality introduces some mid paced chug to good effect with another great performance from De Pena.
In fact the first half of the album is very strong and the quality of the thrashing is consistently high. It’s only later on in the album that songs start to sound a bit faceless. The Laws of Temptation, Violent Assault and Satan’s Fall all sound a bit redundant and drag the album down and at just over 50 minutes, El Rostro de la Muerte is a bit longer than it needs to be.
At the end of the day, this is thrash metal played by a band that was part of the genre at the height of its popularity and while Hirax never managed to attain top tier status they did come up with a couple of worthy additions to the genre. El Rostro de la Muerte may not exactly set the world on fire but it is the sound of a band getting back to top form and the band is heavier than they have ever been. Check it out. El Rostro de la Muerte will not disappoint.
Label: Black Devil Records
Year of Release: 2009
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