Helstar - Nosferatu review
01. Rhapsody In Black
02. Baptized In Blood
03. To Sleep, Perchance To Scream
04. Harker's Tale (Mass Of Death)
05. Perseverance And Desperation
06. Curse Has Passed Away
08. Harsh Reality
09. Swirling Madness
10. Von Am Lebem Destro Sturm
11. Aieliaria And Everonn
In 1988, Helstar's release of Distant Thunder saw the band break away from the pure thrash metal genre and expand in a more progressive direction. The blistering dual guitars were relentless, but now the picking became a little more intense and the soloing went into the stratosphere. Titles like The King is Dead and Abandon Ship were merely portents of things to come in 1989. Although A Distant Thunder was well produced, the band wouldn't peak until their next release.
Nosferatu saw the band completely come together as a tight cohesive progressive metal unit with a more or less central theme. While there were a mix of metal bands in '89 like Morbid Angel, Sepultura and Kreator all exploring heavier, more in-your-face riffs, only a handful were really daring to plunge headlong into the music and start playing with the time changes and adding progressive scales and picking techniques.
Nosferatu is a behemoth in the progressive metal scene. From the opening of Baptized in Blood it's clear this band isn't holding any punches. The dueling guitars enter in a frenzy of picking only to be backed up by the bass and drums following the same psychotic level of intensity. James Rivera presents us with a more controlled and mature effort letting us actually see his full vocal range. To Sleep, Per Chance to Scream is Helstar showing the metal scene what the definition of progressive metal is. The guitars, bass and drums are nothing less than exceptional leaving most other bands from the era in the dust. Incorporating speed with blistering technique and phenomenal picking became Helstar's hallmark throughout Nosferatu. Even the somewhat mellower ballad The Curse Has Passed Away retains all the musical prowess conveniently hidden behind a beautiful acoustic intro. The combination of complicated chords interlaced with Helstar's picking technique and half-second, 10 note scales is awe inspiring. Think you can play guitar? This album will either inspire you or make you quit all together as few but the truly gifted can even comprehend the level of musicianship going on here. Nosferatu is a gargantuan progressive metal effort which destroys any notion that a band can only be thrash or death metal without exploring other areas at the same time.
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