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Rising From The Grave

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Album Review

In a 2006 interview, Helstar guitarist Larry Barragan was quoted as saying that at one point he became so burned out on the music industry that he quit playing music altogether, and literally went about half a decade without even picking his guitar up. It isn't hard to understand why Barragan (who eventually returned to Helstar and also co-founded a band called Eternal Black) felt burned out; Helstar had their share of challenges, ranging from label problems to an abundance of lineup changes to touring difficulties. But despite all that, Helstar recorded some memorable albums — and this three-disc set (two CDs and a DVD) takes a generally enjoyable, if imperfect, look at Helstar's Metal Blade period of the late '80s. Rising from the Grave contains the two studio albums they recorded for Metal Blade (1988's A Distant Thunder and 1989's Nosferatu) as well as the live DVD T'was the Night of a Helish Xmas, which was filmed/recorded on-stage at a Christmas gig in Houston in 1989 and originally released as an audio CD in 2000. Although T'was the Night of a Helish Xmas has been criticized for its inferior sound quality, die-hard Helstar aficionados will nonetheless be glad to have it in the same package as A Distant Thunder and Nosferatu — both of which are solid power metal efforts that sometimes border on speed metal. In fact, Nosferatu (a conceptual outing based on Bram Stoker's Dracula) is widely regarded as Helstar's most essential album. And even though Helstar's Metal Blade-era lineup — the Rob Halford-ish James Rivera on lead vocals, Barragan and André Corbin on guitar, Jerry Abarca on bass, and Frank Ferreira on drums — didn't have much commercial success, that doesn't make A Distant Thunder or Nosferatu any less worthwhile. Rising from the Grave isn't for casual listeners, but headbangers who are really into Helstar will welcome its arrival.

Biography

Formed: Houston, TX

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '80s, '00s, '10s

Helstar was one of America's better kept heavy metal secrets throughout the 1980s, composing a string of consummate LPs that earned the band many critical accolades, but failed to sell in large quantities. Most likely, the band's constant dealings with unreliable independent labels, combined with incessant personnel turnover, were the chief deterrents. Formed in Houston, Texas, in 1982 by vocalist James Rivera and guitarist Larry Barragan (the only guaranteed mainstays over the years), Helstar was...
Full bio
Rising From The Grave, Helstar
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