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Raging Violence

Hirax

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Album Review

By bringing together the normally disparate building blocks of metal, punk, hardcore and thrash, Hirax's debut album, Raging Violence, in many ways reflected the complex socio-musical soup of their native Los Angeles. But, even more than their competent brand of speedcore, what made Hirax instantly recognizable (and almost as immediately enervating) was the idiosyncratic vocal style of frontman Katon W. DePena, which constantly oscillated from mid-range thrash-speak to ululating, quasi-operatic screams. Indeed, not since King Diamond had a singer so polarized listeners into love/hate camps, although, as Raging Violence highlights such as "Evil Forces" and "Guardian Protector" easily prove, neither of DePena's dual voices posed major problems so long as he stuck with one or the other for decent stretches of time. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this album's 14 tracks found him bouncing back and forth so frequently that he posed a constant source of distraction from the otherwise quite respectable moshpit-forming anthems served up by his instrumentally adept bandmates. These songs also showed strong ties to hardcore and crossover with their compact, two-minute-average running times and less-than-mandatory need for guitar solos; but in contrast, DePena's lyrics only tackled true-to-life subject matter on "Executed," elsewhere resorting to more typically metallic tales of war, horror and/or demonic possession. All in all, Hirax's specific recipe for speedcore was just competent enough to score a dedicated following in and around L.A., but lacked the versatility to break them nationally and beyond — with or without the X-factor put forward by DePena's controversial vocal chords. [In 1987, when it seemed as though Hirax's career had come to an end, Raging Violence was reissued alongside its successor, Hate, Fear and Power, by Metal Blade on a two-for-one set entitled Not Dead Yet.]

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Buena Park, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '00s

Buena Park, CA's Hirax formed in 1984 and achieved only moderate success during the original outbreak of thrash in the 1980s, yet their cult following has grown exponentially in the years since, to the point where they are now frequently cited among the genre's important — and unique — early contributors. Led by charismatic frontman Katon W. DePena, Hirax's lineup was completed by guitarist Scott Owen, bassist Gary Monardo, and drummer John Tabares when they were signed by Metal Blade...
Full Bio
Raging Violence, Hirax
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Metal, Music, Rock
  • Released: Oct 15, 1985

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