Hirax – Immortal Legacy (SPV)Wednesday, 5th March 2014
Hirax have never been anything more than just plain ‘ole “good.” However, “remarkable” and/or “exceptional” may not be applicable terms for a band who since their 2000 reactivation, have become a Euro festival mainstay, along with becoming one of first-fetched bands among the jean jacket brigade. Even with thrash’s over-saturation, Hirax is able to cut through, largely because of the vocals of founding member Katon W. de Pena, who aside from being one of the few minorities in thrash, owns one of the more distinctive set of pipes in the game. For this reason and a few more, the band’s new Immortal Legacy is up to snuff.
The band’s thrash angle rarely drifts past the rudiments of the Bay Area; they’re like a less brutal Exodus and technical Forbidden, if that makes any sense. Where they do match up with Forbidden is in the vocal department, not because de Pena sounds like Russ Anderson, but they both tackle thrash with melodic vocals. de Pena is far less refined than Anderson, but man, is he ever idiosyncratic…in a good way. The opening howls of “Hellion Rising,” coupled with his more blunt delivery on “Tied to the Gallows Pole” and “Violence of Action” further serve to distinguish the frontman from his contemporaries. Point being, Hirax wouldn’t have gotten this far if they didn’t have such a commodity like de Pena.
Sure to experience a bump in the promotional department thanks to being hooked up with European stronghold SPV, Hirax might be in the best position of their career with Immortal Legacy. They’re not overlooked, but not overhyped, don’t have a classic to build upon, but are without the perquisite thrash clunker to rally the troops. Not a bad spot, eh?