|Classic Review: Helstar - Nosferatu|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 1989
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: July 23, 2005
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.43/5 (88.65%) (37 Votes)
Well, here we have the best Helstar album, and their last good album ever. A lot of people will tell you that this or that other Helstar album is better, but I really don't think you can argue with this one at all, as "Nosferatu" – their fourth album – is really the sound they should have been going for all along.
This was 1989, and Thrash was the thing, so it should be no surprise that this is the thrashiest album by this band, but what is surprising is how well it works. On this CD Helstar hit upon a pretty much perfect mix of their older, traditional metal style, and the then-current Thrash sound to create an energetic, yet melodic and catchy sound. The problem with a lot of old Thrash is that it was bashed out by punks who didn't really know how to play, and so they fell back on dull open-E chugging and boring 4/4 timebeats. But Helstar are the real shit, and Larry Barragan was one of the 80's unheralded guitar masters, so this is like thrash written by musicians who love a good hook and really know what the fuck they are doing. If you doubt, check out the killer, surprisingly complex riffing that songs like "Baptized In Blood" or my favorite "To Sleep, Perchance To Scream". Or spin the instrumental "Perseverance And Desperation", a four-minute guitar-only cut that is both catchy and consistently interesting. And this album doesn't run out of gas after side A with the end of the Dracula storyline either, it keeps cooking with killer shit like the classic "Swirling Madness", and closes out with the ballad "Aieliara And Everonn", which also features some really beautiful guitarwork.
The production id pretty good, though it is very 80s. The greatest improvement here is the vocals of James Rivera, who for once tamed his obnoxious bleating to sing some real vocal lines, which may not be awesome, but at least they go with the songs and will get you singing along, rather than wincing at his pointless wailing, as on other Helstar albums.
This is a classic album, and as I said, is the best thing Helstar ever did. Heavy, varied, melodic and memorable, "Nosferatu" still delivers after all these years.
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