Helstar – “Burning Star” (1984)

Helstar was one of many American bands producing fantasy-based, proto-power metal in the mid-eighties.  Vocalist James Rivera (credited as Bill Lionel) sang of witches, bats, werewolves, and vampires (what… no mummies?).  He peppered his somewhat Dio-inspired performance with piercing, high-pitched screams (which, I should mention, is NOT a Dio attribute).  Guitarists Larry Barragan and Tom Rogers laid down a stock riff substrate (nothing special, standard stuff), saving most of their creative juices for the solo breaks.

Overall, Burning Star displays plenty of youthful enthusiasm and a lust for metal.  My favorite track is Toward The Unknown.  It’s nice to hear Helstar in their cruder, simpler times.  By the time of 1989’s Nosferatu album, Helstar had become overly technical and suffocatingly sterile.

Helstar’s debut was released with two different covers.  In Europe (on both the Music For Nations and Roadrunner labels), Burning Star had the cover shown here.  In the U.S., Combat Records released the album with the cover above.  I like the U.S. cover better because it reminds me of something from a Scooby-Doo cartoon.  My score: B-


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