If you haven't heard the name before Hirax are a US Thrash/Speed Metal band and have been around for over thirty years. They've always been, what I consider to be, in the second tier of thrash, never making the big leaps like Exodus, Testament, Kreator or Destruction and that's probably down to the fact that vocalist Katon W. DePena (the only ever present member) has found it difficult to keep a stable lineup. They do, however, have a fanatical and loyal following and with 'Immortal Legacy, their fifth full length, have released an album that will surely keep that following very happy indeed.
Despite all the changes, Hirax have always sounded like Hirax thanks to the quite distinctive vocals of DePena. He reminds me in places of Helstar's James Rivera in that he seems to go in and out of key during the songs but it doesn't sound out of tune. Perhaps it's just my ears that hear the odd delivery, but it's certainly never done him any harm and the songs on this album, including 'Black Smoke', 'Hellion Rising' and 'Thunder Roar' etc, hark back to the days or proper Thrash/Speed bands such as Vio-Lence and Iron Angel.
Brothers Lance & Steve Harrison provide guitar and bass respectively and obviously work together extremely well, and drummer Jorge Iacobellis plays his socks off. We also get some very interesting guest guitarists in the form of Jim Durkin (Dark Angel), Juan Garcia (Agent Steel) and Rocky George (Suicidal Tendencies), but thankfully the album never sounds like a vanity project for any of them. Veteran producer Bill Metoyer (who worked with Hirax on their early albums as well as Slayer, W.A.S.P and Armored Saint etc) has done a terrific job of giving a modern sounds that also feels authentic and, to top it all off, legendary artist Philip Lawvere (Kreator, Celtic Frost, Deathrow etc) has come out of retirement to do an original oil painting for the cover which is instantly recognisable and nostalgic, especially if you were around in the 80s.
Before you think I'm getting carried away, Hirax haven't delivered an album that matches recent releases from Testament, Onslaught and Annihilator etc but it is still good, old school, thrash. My only real complaint is that with nearly five years since their previous album it's a bit short. There is one bonus track available for the digital and another for the vinyl release, but I've not been sent either of those which is a shame. I will say, however, that all these bonus tracks for different releases, which is a regular occurrence nowadays, does get on my nerves! Still, it's very pleasing to see Hirax still plugging away and releasing a decent album and long may it continue.
Review by Rick Tilley
24th Feb 2014
1) Black Smoke; 2) Hellion Rising
3) Victims of the Dead
4) Thunder Roar, The Conquest, La Boca de la Bestia
6) Tied to the Gallows Pole
8) Immortal Legacy
10) Violence of Action
11) Atlantis (Journey to Atlantis)
12) The World Will Burn
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...Hirax haven't delivered an album that matches recent releases from Testament, Onslaught and Annihilator etc but it is still good, old school, thrash."