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Assassins Of War
(Black Devil Records)

It has been twenty years since I had an encounter with HIRAX. I was in high school and I was expelled from a class with another guy. I don't clearly remember why, probably I was speaking loud or whatever. The other guy was the one with long hair, black t-shirt and a SLAYER pendant, who seemed to be in his world and didn't care for the others, except the other "outfit" and also Metal fan that was always with him. We all have become great friends ever since, and he was the reason I am into extreme Metal. One of the first tapes I got lend by him was from this band HIRAX. Obviously, the first thing that strikes you is the vocals. I always thought that the guy sounded weird. As soon as I got hold of the tape, I saw the band picture and I knew the difference. Fast forward twenty years, and HIRAX still goes on. The charismatic vocalist KatonW. De Pena has become HIRAX, no doubt about that. Besides having two albums out, he returned after a really long stand by with "The New Age Of Terror" and since then, he went through a lot of line-up changes. I was lucky enough to catch HIRAX live and speak with Katon himself, and he is a hell of a guy, truly what I would call a personality in the extreme Metal world, and also a living legend. The man is 43 years old. And time has only made things better. On this 5 song EP the HIRAX sound is still the same as on "The New Age Of Terror" and that is a mean, tough Thrash Metal with a slight Hardcore influence (well, I'm not quite sure if I would call the massive SLAYER overtones "Hardcore", Julian... to me the 'South Of Heaven' opening in 'Summon The Death Dealers' is more than obvious, don't you think - Frank). And I mean slight, as I would say that their early releases were more Hardcore, with some very short songs. Since the last release, they have developed to have loner songs, and Katon shows his impressive vocal style, while being melodic, he is also very aggressive, and it fits the music in a great way. A brilliant production, with heavy, really skull crushing guitars come of this great disc. Everything here screams of what real Thrash Metal is all about. In fact, some riffs remind me to more brutal bands. As always, this comes with a very old school cover art, and intelligent yet rebellious lyrics. I suppose this recording was mainly done to show the potential of the new line-up and also serves as a teaser to what will be the next full length. Although the earlier material has been re-released, I suggest you to go for "The New Age Of Terror" and grab this one too. And if you ever had the chance, go see Katon live. The next album, will surely be a monsterpiece.,

Julián Núńez

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