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DEATH STRIKE - review
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HIRAX
HIRAX
Not Dead Yet
(Thrash Corner Records)
47:15min

"Not Dead Yet" is not a new HIRAX album, but a re-release of the first two classic HIRAX albums "Raging Violence" (from 1985, tracks 1-14) and 1986's follow-up "Hate, Fear And Power" (tracks 15 - 22) plus 'Demon's Evil Forces' as a bonus live (yet rather bootleg type) video clip from the 80s. When "Raging Violence" originally got released it suprised quite a few people, due to the band's massively increased speed, intensity and aggression ever since the band's first 4 song demo from 1984 (which still showcased a more traditional / Power Metal type style). Those who heard the track 'Bombs Of Death', that previously was featured on the "Metal Massacre IV" compilation from Metal Blade Records, saw it coming as it already represented the "new" HIRAX perfectly. The once rather traditional Metal style had been replaced by short and to the point, fast and ferocious material! HIRAX had impressively developed into a furious Thrash Metal act with obvious influences from the Hardcore movement as well, so that they were associated with the growing crossover scene almost as often as with regular Metal acts. This was also pretty good reflected in their lyrics and a lot of the bands that HIRAX shared the stage with at the time (C.O.C., D.R.I., CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER etc.). The only thing that still reminded on the early days was vocalist Katon W. De Pena's clear vocal delivery, which was pretty unusual for such a raw Thrash act at the time. On the other hand, this unique trademark also turned a lot of people off. Listening to the stuff twenty years later again, I come to the conclusion that it wasn't so much his voice in general, but the fact that his vocal lines were extremely repetitive back then and also way too much upfront in the mix. Nowadays I even feel reminded on a cleaner version of Steve 'Zetro' Sousa (ex - EXODUS) from time to time... The production itself was ok for the time, but doesn't live up to today's standards of course. The follow-up "Hate, Fear And Power" was musically kinda close to "Raging Violence", while the songs became even shorter (the title track is only 32 seconds long, while the longest tune - 'The Last War' - is about two and a half minutes), so that I always used to consider that release as an EP instead of a full length. The guitar sound turned out a little better and the fact that drummer John Tabares got replaced by Eric Brecht was also a big plus for the band. So, to sum things up: even though HIRAX certainly weren't perfect, they definitely created a totally unique style on their own, not compareable to any other Thrash act around, even after so many years now. This CD re-issue also features a bunch of vintage pictures as well as all the lyrics and both cover artworks. And for those of you who die for some trivia: the "Raging Violence" art was created by legendary artist Pushead, while CELTIC FROST's Tom G. Warrior is responsible for the wellknown HIRAX logo. For more info check out www.hirax.org, www.thrashcorner.com

Frank Stöver

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