Helstar - Nosferatu

Helstar - Nosferatu

\r\nHelstar may not have a huge discography but still the fans’ opinions remain a bit divided according to which one of their five official studio recordings is their best. However, the album that gathers the most preferences –maybe along with “A Distant Thunder” – is “Nosferatu”.
\r\n
\r\nOur story begins in 1989. Helstar have already returned to their base after a successful European tour, promoting “A Distant Thunder” and lock themselves in the studio, under Bill Metoyer’s supervision, to record their fourth album (and second for Metal Blade), with their lineup including James Rivera on vocals, Larry Barragan and Andre Corbin on guitars, Jerry Abarca on the bass and Frank Ferreira on the drums. The final result of these recordings was released on September 6th 1989 and caused a sensation to the metal scene.
\r\n
\r\nProviding that we should grant a label to this particular album and not just call it heavy metal, one could say that Helstar play American power metal with a bit of progressive references and thrashy rhythms, which is not that strange, considering that the thrash movement was enjoying a relative popularity at that time, such that it even influenced bands that preexisted from the genre (like Manilla Road). Of course, Nosferatu’s Helstar doesn’t just chew up thrash rhythms, instead they use them as a weapon to spit out an unprecedent guitar attack which, despite its speed, remains totally controlled and precise, keeping the listener’s interest at a peak throughout the album and even stealing the show from James Rivera’s outstanding performance.
\r\n
\r\nAs one could imagine, along with the terrific riffs there are also some outstanding and inventive solos, the combination of all these reminding us of just how much underestimated as a guitarist and a composer is Larry Barragan, the mastermind behind Helstar’s magnum opus, since most of the album is based on his own compositions, along of course with Andre Corbin’s helping hand. In fact, Corbin is the composer of the beautiful instrumental “Perseverence and Desperation”, in which he also recorded all the guitars, as Barragan felt unease with this recording and didn’t believe this particular track belonged to the album, depicting the creative issues that had started to grow within the band and which along with management factors led Barragan to quit the band some time after Nosferatu was released.
\r\n
\r\nIt would really be unfair to try and name any songs that step out from Nosferatu because we are talking about an album that should be considered and listened as a whole and not just as another collection of songs. Surely, on a first listening, songs like Baptized in Blood or Benediction cannot go unnoticed, nevertheless the album is full of fantastic moments in every single track. So, if you are looking for “hits” forget it, Nosferatu is one big hit that beats the right chords and makes you want to listen to it again and again and explore its dark feeling, aided by the eerie lyrical content, as the first 6 songs (side A on the LP) form a concept story which is based on Bram Stoker’s masterpiece “Dracula”, as implied also by the album’s title and cover.\r\n

\r\n

\r\n
\r\n“Nosferatu” manages something that even today few albums are able to do, which is getting the listener’s attention alive throughout its duration, without giving you the chance to press the “skip” button on your CD player. Nevertheless, “Nosferatu” does not promise any easy listening. It’s not the kind of album that you just push play and start doing something else simultaneously. It demands from you many listenings and mostly, it demands your attention. On a final analysis, 20 years after its release, “Nosferatu” still is able to give lessons about the true meaning of the words “inspiration” and “technique” and above all, is a guide for creating an album of absolute heavy metal.
\r\n

\r\n
\r\nLambros “Metalshock” Panetas
\r\n

Copyright 2020. All Right Reserved.