By Jason Wellwood
This is a ‘catchup’ album of sorts for those of us who didn’t pick up the EP’s released in 2001, 2006 and 2007 (Barrage of Noise, Assassins of War, Chaos and Brutality respectively). While Hirax never made as much splash with mainstream audiences as ‘The Big Four’ did, they definitely hold down the fort for old school thrash. Katon De Pena’s voice IS the epitome of a thrash vocalist. When most people think thrash, it’s the chugging riffs of Hirax records that are really in their minds whether they know it or not, the same goes for De Pena’s voice. It’s him screaming in your head, trust me. I don’t know the history of Hirax as well as some others might, but what I can say is the band has been around for a long time and, if the music on this compilation is any sort of indication as to their talent, then it’s a crying shame that they have been so overlooked. Keeping in mind, as well, that the band you hear on this album is NOT the same album as the original Hirax (actually, it differs from the 2001 release to the 2006/2007 releases as well) it’s amazing that these guys hold down the old school sound so well.
It is amazing that many people don’t know Hirax considering they had massive tours, great album sales (at one point) and an up and down story perfect for a ‘Behind The Music’ debacle. For those who missed the original Hirax heyday, Noise, Chaos, War is a pretty good starting point. Admittedly, the re-recorded version of ‘Walk With Death’ might have been something to leave off, perhaps in favour of pulling a classic out of the vault, but since all three of these were originally released separately, it’s an easy thing to forgive. It’s also interesting to note how well the instrumental guitar work of ‘French Pearl’ blends beautifully into ‘Chaos and Brutality’ even though they were recorded 6 years apart by, essentially, 2 different bands! Obviously, De Pena runs a tight ship!
Hirax are obviously a hidden gem for true thrash seekers out there looking for something more than just this week’s reheated version of yesteryears glory. These guys are the real deal and this album is a great find!
(Thrash Corner/Black Devil Records)