El Rostro De La Muerte

Written by: EW on 18/12/2009 18:45:22

Crashing forth with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop comes thrash scene 'legends' Hirax with only their fourth full-length since initially forming in 1984, "El Rostro De La Muerte". Hirax's reputation in the American thrash scene comes as much from singer and only mainstay Katon de Pena's unbridled energy and dedication to the cause of thrash down the years as does the music his band have peddled, and this album is the perfect exposition of that.

2008's "Get Thrashed" documentary gives de Pena some of the credit he deserves for having pushed his band year after year while numerous others sold more, or split up around him (or both). It is through such means that I know the man best as despite owning 1986's 15-minute album (!) "Hate, Fear and Power" on vinyl (it's the only way) I have never liked the music of Hirax as much as I like and respect Mr. Hirax himself. Hirax come 2009 are still thrash to the bone, based on a learning of ultra-aggressive unrepentant tomes that recall Dark Angel in their brashness, Overkill in vocal snarl and (recent) Exodus in both band's desire to tear you limb from limb and leave you dying by the side of the road. Save for the unexpected piano interlude that is "Cuando Cae La Oscuridad (When Darkness Falls)", the 14 songs here crash bang and wallop by in 51 minutes in what could be most democratically described as 'consistent' across the album's duration. The title track, "Blind Faith" and Slayer-infused "The Laws Of Temptation" symbolise the bands' fairly static approach to song-writing as each and all fly by on a cocktail of high energy but largely unmemorable riffs that suggest of a band content with their position in the scene. It must be said that the production job to be found here could be partly to blame for the lack of identity found in the riffing as the desire for an 'in your face' feeling results in proceedings becoming rather nullified and many riffs being indistinguishable from the next. Thrash requires a high level of technical proficiency and whilst I would be loathe to dismiss Hirax as amateurs on their instruments, the lack of overall inventiveness does not give the impression of the most technically accomplished band thrash metal has ever given us.

In listening to "El Rostro De La Muerte" you will probably think as I did: good energy, admirable dedication, no truly remarkable riffs or songs. And that's even with the benefit of a few listens. With this album number four, Hirax have done no harm to their b-league thrash status in an effort which alas does also typify that very position they find themselves in.

Download: Overkill, Dark Angel, Slayer
For The Fans Of: El Rostro De La Muerte (The Face Of Death), Horrified, Blind Faith
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 16.11.2009
Black Devil Records

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