Helstar – This Wicked Nest
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
Modern Helstar – in my eyes, at least – is pretty much the poster band for all reborn, reinvigorated eighties acts. While there are a couple of other success stories, Helstar’s rebirth has been a convincing and involving one. Welding a ferocious thrash metal approach to a tried-and-true US power metal sound is one I deem entirely successful. Old fans may well yearn for the days of Nosferatu and Remnants Of War, but when you hear Helstar smoking a vast majority of genre forerunners, I think it’s time to sit up and take note.
If King Of Hell laid the foundations for modern Helstar and Glory Of Chaos built upon that foundation with twisted, towering spires; then This Wicked Nest pierces the foundation, uproots the spires, and wreaks bloody havoc via its devastating array of stabbing vocals, furious riffs, and tumultuous percussion. Pure fire and brimstone; Helstar blends in both the venomous, Teutonic thrash metal style with that of melodically-driven US acts a là Heathen, Overkill, or Lääz Rockit, and strain it through US power metal style structuring.
The band sounds entirely on the money, spewing energy and creativity throughout. There are countless furious, speedy outbursts, anchored by intelligent arrangement and spear-headed by James Rivera’s characteristic vocals. It’s amazing the guy hasn’t ran out of steam – especially considering how active he’s been over the last thirty years – he seriously throttles his voice here, with Painkiller-style high range and some killer, throaty aggressive lines. Blended with some of the most bad-ass riffing I’ve heard this year, the result is truly violent and affecting.
Where I think This Wicked Nest sets itself apart from prior opuses is in the aforementioned arrangement and song-writing. Whilst there are numbers which recall the straight-forward, steam-rolling approach of Glory Of Chaos, the way the songs are structured reminds me of the leaps and bounds made in the band’s eighties hey-day. Epic numbers like “Fall Of Dominion” or the suffocating “Cursed” are orchestrated in meticulous fashion, with ever-shifting technical passages springing to mind Heathen’s progressive spin on thrash metal, as well as having that deft dynamic approach many power metal acts flirted with in the late eighties.
Helstar seriously nails it here, barely missing a note in a flame-ridden leviathan of an album. Wonderful song-writing and skull crushing riffs level the appeal between power metal fans and thrash fans, although caution may be worth taking for the strictly melodic inclined. Nonetheless, This Wicked Nest is an impressive album from a veteran band, showing levels of energy and creativity which happily rival many a younger whippersnapper. I can nigh on guarantee this will loosen the neck, and as such recommend thusly.
4.0 // 5