Hirax: Inmortal Legacy-2014.

Hirax (often stylized as HIRAX) is an American thrash metal band from Cypress, California. Starting in 1984[1] under the leadership of vocalist Katon W. De Pena (the band’s only original member left in the current line-up), the band played in Los Angeles and San Francisco with several of their thrash metal peers such as MetallicaExodus, and Slayer. The band was an early example of thrash metal, speed metal and crossover thrash.[2][3]

After releasing some demos, Hirax signed with Metal Blade and debuted with their first full-length, Raging Violence, in 1985.[1] The band was composed of Katon W. De Pena (vocals), Scott Owen (guitar), Gary Monardo (bass) and John Tabares (drums).

In 1986, John Tabares left the band and Eric Brecht (brother of D.R.I.‘s vocalist Kurt Brecht) joined.[4] After the change, they released their second album, Hate, Fear and Power,[4] which was only 16 minutes and eight songs in length. After this release, the band quit the label and independently released a demo called Blasted In Bangkok in 1987.

But with tensions and disillusions in the band, De Pena decided to leave and form a new band with Gene Hoglan (former Dark Angel drummer), and Ron McGovney (former Metallica bassist).[4] They called themselves Phantasm and released a six-track demo in 1988 (re-issued in 2002 as a CD with the demo and live tracks). After a brief tour with Nuclear Assault, they broke up. In 1989, after De Pena left, the replacement was Paul Baloff (former Exodus frontman).[4] But soon after the band broke up.[4]

Reunion

De Pena stayed involved in the regional underground music scene and took a job working at a local music store. In 1997, he featured one of his old songs on a split 7″ with Spazz, the band of one of his friends. By 1998, De Pena had received enough fan mail and interest which encouraged him to reunite Hirax in 2000. De Pena reunited the band with the original lineup of Scott Owen, Gary Monardo, and John Tabares, releasing the El Diablo Negro EP in 2000. In 2002, the band played in Abrasive Rock Fest.[5] In 2003, the band played in Bang Your Head Festival, in Germany.[6] The lineup completely changed, and Hirax released the album Barrage of Noise in 2001 with James Joseph Hubler, Justin Lent (Clusterfux), and Nick Sellinger. This lineup was brief as well.

In 2003, De Pena recruited an entirely new lineup again, and released the album The New Age of Terror in 2004 with guitarists Dave Watson and Glenn Rogers (formerly of Deliverance), bassist Angelo Espino, and drummer Jorge Iacobellis. The lineup was also short-lived due to irreconcilable differences.

The band released their fourth studio album, El Rostro de la Muerte, in the spring of 2009.[7] On July 20, 2013, Hirax performed at the International Festival Convivencia Rock 2013 that took place in Pereira, Colombia. Thirty-six bands played in the three-day festival and 10,000 people gathered each day of the event.[8]

On February 24, 2014, the band released their latest album titled Immortal Legacy, courtesy of Steamhammer Records.

March 2015 saw the band play in the UK for the first time in their history, beginning with an appearance at Hammerfest in GwyneddWales. Hirax still performs regularly to this day, and as of 2021, they have been working on a new album.[9]

Discography:

DemoDemo1984
Anglican Scrape AtticSplit1985 
Raging ViolenceFull-length1985
Hate, Fear and PowerFull-length1986
Blasted in Bangkok Demo TapeDemo1987 
Blasted in BangkokSingle1987
Not Dead YetCompilation1987 
Dying WorldSplit1997 
El Diablo NegroEP2000
Barrage of NoiseEP2001
The New Age of TerrorFull-length2004
Louder than HellSplit2005 
Thrash ’til DeathVideo2006 
Assassins of WarEP2007
Chaos and BrutalityEP2007 
Assassins of War / The New Age of TerrorCompilation2007 
Thrash Metal AssassinsCompilation2008 
Thrash and DestroyLive album2008 
Thrash and DestroyVideo2008
Hirax / F.K.Ü.Split2008 
Metalheads UnitedSplit2009 
El rostro de la muerteFull-length2009
Noise Chaos WarCompilation2010
Raging ThrashSplit2010
Just Kill… and Kill AgainSplit video2010 
First Time in PolandVideo2011 
Warlords of the Bolivian CommandLive album2011 
La Boca de la BestiaSingle2012
Hellion RisingSingle2013 
La Boca de la Bestia / Queen of the WastelandSplit2013 
Hellion Rising / Water BoardingSplit2014 
Immortal LegacyFull-length2014
West-East Thrashaholic Beat UpSplit2015 
Born in the Streets 1983-1984Split2018 

Members:

Katon W. de PenaVocals (1984-1987, 2000-present)
See also: ex-House of Suffering, ex-Phantasm, ex-L.A. Kaos
Steve HarrisonBass (2006-present)
See also: ex-Syndicate (USA)
Lance HarrisonGuitars (2006-present)
Mike VegaDrums (2014-present)
See also: Luna Occulta, ex-Ahnkou, Battalion of Saints, ex-Dr. Know, ex-Lightning Swords of Death, ex-Satriarch, ex-Sinstorm, ex-The Cauterized, ex-Gunt, ex-The Ruins

Past Members:

Sherman JonesBass
See also: Insecticide, ex-Eyeball
Gary MonardoBass (1984-1989, 2000)
See also: ex-Weapon 13, ex-Cold Blood, ex-L.A. Kaos, Raging Violence, ex-K.G.B.
Brian KeithDrums (1984)
See also: ex-L.A. Kaos
John TabaresDrums (1984-1986, 2000, 2006)
See also: ex-Weapon 13, ex-Cold Blood, Raging Violence, ex-Phantasm, ex-L.A. Kaos
Bob SavageGuitars (1984)
See also: Bob Savage, ex-Weapon 13, ex-Cold Blood, ex-L.A. Kaos, K.G.B., Raging Violence, ex-Invaders
Scott OwenGuitars (1984-1989, 2000)
See also: Uncivil War, ex-Subversion, ex-Piranha, ex-Razor (live), ex-Eliminate, ex-Raging Violence, ex-Subversion A.D.
Eric BrechtDrums (1986-1989)
See also: ex-Attitude, ex-D.R.I., ex-Death, ex-Suburbanites, ex-Two-Bit Thief, ex-US D.R.I.
Billy WedgeworthVocals (1987)
(R.I.P. 2010) See also: ex-Corruption
Paul BaloffVocals (1988)
(R.I.P. 2002) See also: ex-Piranha, ex-Exodus, ex-Heathen, ex-Killparty, ex-Spastik Children
Greg EickmierGuitars (2000)
See also: ex-A // Solution
Mike BrickmanBass (2001-2003)
See also: ex-Lunatics on Parole
Justin LentBass, Guitars (2001)
See also: Clusterfux, ex-Thaumaturgy, ROÄC
Dan BellingerDrums (2001)
See also: Raised by Wolves, ex-Crematorium, ex-Yigael’s Wall
Nick SeelingerDrums (2001)
See also: ex-Beltfed Weapon, ex-Silencer, ex-Angel Dust (live), ex-Drudgery
James Joseph HublerGuitars (2001)
Angelo EspinoBass (2003-2005)
See also: HereticL.S.N., ex-Dissenter, ex-Anger as Art, ex-Bitch, ex-Once Dead, ex-Reverend, ex-Hunger, ex-Predator, ex-Uncle Slam, ex-Vermin
Jorge IacobellisDrums (2003-2006, 2008-2014)
See also: Final DecreePrimal, ex-Silversteel, ex-Insecticide, ex-Lunatics on Parole, ex-Velocet, ex-Todos Tus Muertos
Glenn RogersGuitars (2003-2005, 2006-2007, 2008-2011)
See also: DeliveranceFinal DecreePrimal, ex-Heretic, ex-Once Dead, ex-Steel Vengeance, ex-Viking, ex-Vengeance Rising, ex-Lambs Among Wolves, ex-Max Blam Jam
Dave WatsonGuitars (2003-2005)
See also: Shades of Crimson, Black Heart, ex-Final Decree, ex-Hauk, ex-Resistance, ex-Ruthless, ex-The Prodigal Son, ex-Rotten Rod and the Warheads, ex-Mother Mercy, ex-The Violent Breed, ex-DeathRiders
Dave ChedrickDrums (2004-2005)
See also: Maxxxwell CarlisleRaven (live), ex-Graphic Violence, ex-Raven Mad, ex-Anger as Art, ex-Dreams of Damnation, ex-Heretic, ex-New Eden, ex-Ruthless, ex-DeathRiders
Fabricio RavelliDrums (2006-2008)
See also: Imbyra, ex-Wasted Co., ex-A.N.I.M.A.L., ex-Ancesttral, ex-Dreams of Damnation, ex-Harppia, ex-Scars, ex-Blood Alliance
Miguel “Camazotz” MoranDrums (2007)
See also: ex-Dreams of Damnation, ex-Ritual, ex-Tazumal, ex-Vesterian, ex-Vesuvius
Tim ThomasGuitars (2007-2008, 2011)
See also: ex-Bastard Squad, ex-Warrion, ex-New Eden, ex-Steel Prophet, ex-Agent Steel (live), ex-Abattoir, ex-Ripcord
Mike GuerreroGuitars (lead) (2011-2013)
See also: ex-Sovereign Reign, ex-DeathRiders

One thought on “Hirax: Inmortal Legacy-2014.

  1. slayrrr666, May 7th, 2014
    Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Steamhammer

    The fifth full-length effort from California thrashers Hirax, “Immortal Legacy” stands firmly alongside the bands’ more enduring classics of the past and showcases the band at their peak this far into their careers, making for a tantalizing glimpse of what the future can entitle.

    With their legacy lasting back to the early-80s, it’s quite easy to determine that here with almost no real change in the bands’ approach or style. While their careening banshee of a front-man is their most notable weapon, on the musical side the band is essentially firing off mid-80s style speed metal rhythms with a surprising amount of technicality for the genre as the tracks tend to whip through several intense stages at times rather than the flat one-note approach such a genre usually carries and more-than-effectively showcases their blending of speed and traditional thrash metal at its best with the best of both worlds. There’s involved, complex patterns and a sense of technicality inherent as it whips through a dramatic series of pattern variations and tempo changes that evoke some of the best and brightest of the thrash realm, while the band’s reliance on keeping the music tight, aggressive and far more chaotic than most thrash bands at the time are straight from the speed metal camp, as while the band does favor lengthier compositions and more dynamic patterns than speed metal ever could muster the reliance on frantic, up-tempo chug-based riffing chords is one of the genre’s most adhered-to doctrines. There’s plenty of that within here, which makes for a healthy cross-selection of material to please fans of either disciple yet appealing to both with their well-chosen decision to never fully commit to one or the other as it continually weaves both influences throughout these tracks which really speaks well to their understanding of their chosen genre and the enjoyment they get exploring that. As well, there’s plenty of clanking bass-lines throughout which really give this a weight and complexity that’s missing with speed metal that’s found far more often in the thrash world with the ability to give a heavy depth to the riff and really underscore how thrashy the patterns and leads really seem to be. Not to mention it gets a single, solitary track to display that sense of technicality and weight to the proceedings rather than get stuck in the middle of a single track makes for a rather enjoyable presence of the instrument and the tightness between it and the guitars creates a rather enjoyable experience within the tighter, more chaotic patterns found throughout the majority of the tracks. While the drumming here isn’t a complex series of pounds, fills and rolls or incorporates a stylish series of triggered double-bass blasts the way most modern thrash bands chose to attack, the simple, plodding nature of the patterns works well here with the old-school formula offering plenty of chances for this to impress with the speed and energy of the performance here that manages to keep the songs in the up-tempo and frantic side of the spectrum more often than not, oftentimes because of the frantic performance of the drumming that knows when to descend into the chaotic patterns or when a simple, pounding beat is required to generate the chaos needed on the more out-of-control sections of the music, but this thankfully never overshadows the rest of the music and keeps it firmly rooted in thrash with its patterns and variations rather than drive it into more extreme territory that the guitar patterns hint at. It’s a testament to their experience to know that and showcase the different patterns rather than go off into newfound territory because of this, and really helps seal the album overall. Of course, nothing from the band would be complete with the utterly relentless, wildly-enjoyable vocal performance that puts the majority of these tracks into the upper end of the echelon with their general fervor and enthusiasm, making routine lines seem utterly irresistible and making for one of the most enjoyable parts of any release from the band which is again featured here.

    Normally, the band has done a fine job keeping their albums relatively clean in terms of handling the different halves so that it’s a coherent, competent assault of blinding speed metal verses and thrash patterns throughout their music, and that’s certainly the case here except for one minor point that does crop up in certain unexpected places. The main issue here with this album more than any of their others is the inclusion of a series of short, instrumental interludes that really don’t add much of anything to the tracks as a whole. When it interrupts the proceeds the way it does in this one, with three of the seven tracks clocking in as brief interludes that don’t even reach a length of a minute each, the effect really becomes quite irritating when it jars you out of the whole experience as it does here by stopping the flow of the tracks for a series of albeit-fiery and well-composed sections, but the vast majority of the tracks on here are the typical tight, raging speed-metal blasts that the band has become known for and the sudden influx of traditional heavy metal riffs and soloing that occurs in the brief interlude tracks on here makes for a rather big momentum-stopper. Doing it as a general practice is not the issue here but rather the change in tone is for none of the rhythms or patterns featured are utilized in the follow-up track at all and really seems to be done out of a different band or style. The only other real issue many might have with the effort, something that really can’t be faulted with the band at all for it’s their general style of playing but the fact remains that the majority of the up-tempo tracks do tend to use the same patterns and rhythms throughout their running time and tends to make them bleed into each other quite easily. This is mostly accomplished on the upper-intensity tracks for they seem to utilize the same guitar rhythms playing at that particular speed and stay the course throughout their duration as if the band doesn’t seem to understand how to play at that speed under any other circumstances beyond the one reused pattern. The only true variation found within this is the different tempos of the tracks for the slower ones do this as well while the up-tempo tracks stay the same as well. It’s a little disconcerting but the fact that this is part of the genre is mostly forgivable since the material here is rather fun regardless of how similar it sounds to each other.

    Really, this is quite simply true, wholesome Hirax at its best with a series of strong, raging songs. Opener ‘Black Smoke’ gets that point across immediately as the scratched-record intro quickly gives way to blistering, raging guitars and pounding drumming with furious speed-metal chugging that barrels along at a frantic tempo with out-of-control energy through the opening patterns with non-stop drumming, blaring bass-lines and frantic guitar leads that let a mid-tempo solo section break up the energy and urgency then keeps the frantic energetic pacing return in the blistering final half with furious patterns, raging riff-work and scorching leads, providing one of the efforts best tracks. Stand-out first single ‘Hellion Rising’ works through the faded intro with operatic vocals blast into raging guitars and blistering drumming weaving through galloping up-tempo pace with furious speed metal melodies merging with the double-bass into a frantic pattern that whips through the mid-range vocals with plenty of pounding drumming throughout and absolutely raging riff-work through the sparkling solo section into a classy fade-out to give the band one of their more enduring and legendary classics. There’s a slight down-beat in ‘Victims of the Dead,’ as the slow-faded guitar intro with brutal drum-blasts slowly turns into solid mid-tempo crunch filled with solid, strong riffing, steady pounding drumming and a strong set of vocal lashings as the energy increases into the soaring solo section that also increases the tempo and intensity of the drum patterns that returns to the fine mid-tempo chug for the final half, making for a fine effort but suffers considerably compared to the frantic and much-more-enjoyable tracks before it. The album’s best song, the multi-sectioned ‘Thunder Roar, the Conquest, La Boca de la Bestia – The Mouth of the Beast’ gets it off on a high note with sterling, soaring heavy metal guitars screaming along before turning into raging, tight speed metal riffing augmented by bouncy drumming and blaring bass-lines that work into a solid, mid-tempo groove that soon kicks into explosive frenzy with furious drumming, tight guitars and absolutely raging patterns whipping through the riffing that’s suitably buffered by the chaotic, frantic vocals and is carried through into the blasting solo section and on through the finale, showing the band does have some serious musical chops and can evoke a series of different moods within their sound if they ever chose to do so. The first of the instrumental interludes, ‘Earthshaker’ works as a brief, scorching guitar instrumental with dexterous patterns and furious heavy metal riffs that work quite nicely. Segueing from there nicely is ‘Gallows Pole,’ as it immediately crashes into tight riffing, pounding drumming and scorching lead-work with a solid, groovy mid-tempo pace buffeted by the speed metal patterns working through the steady rhythms that slowly weave through toughened patterns and a sparkling solo section that works the strong leads into the final half and overall ending this half on a strong note.

    The second half to this is decidedly weaker though not based on the actual songs themselves. ‘Deceiver’ starts this off with strong riffing that slowly explodes into furious, raging guitars and chaotic, blazing double-bass runs that pummel throughout the raging speed metal patterns and dynamic guitars throughout with thumping bass-work, tight riffing and pounding, furious drumming that leads into the strong solo section and carries the energy throughout the explosive final half, making for an equally enjoyable effort that harkens back to the best tracks on the upper half. This is continued nicely in the title track, with dynamic riffing and barreling drumming careen throughout the raging patterns that incorporates a sparkling solo right off that brings the tight speed metal riffing through the energetic fury of the guitar riffs while the pounding drumming, frantic screaming and dynamic bass-lines merge into a frantic, up-tempo pace with the careening speed-metal riffs carrying the dynamic energy through the second solo section and into the frantic, chaos-laden final half full of extended instrumental patterns and more raging energy. The first of the problems starts with ‘S.O.W.,’ a bouncy instrumental riffing with dynamic riff-work, pounding drumming and a memorable, sing-a-long attitude and pace that really doesn’t offer up much that couldn’t have been served melded elsewhere on the album. The fact that it segues into ‘Violence of Action’ from the movie-sample intro that blasts into tight, frantic riffing with careening speed metal passages, thunderous drumming with dexterous patterns, a sense of brutal energy with the strong leads weaving through the tight, toughened and utterly relentless energy that careens throughout the first half and is backed by the equally dynamic vocal lashings that whip throughout the mid-section that slows into bouncy, mid-tempo work in the final half to get things back on track. However, yet another brief instrumental interlude in ‘Atlantis (Journey to Atlantis)’ fares better as the dynamic bass-solo instrumental effectively captures the aquatic theme in the rhythms for a better overall presentation, though, again, the short interlude doesn’t make sense in its inclusion. Thankfully, we end on a decent overall track to finish things off, as ‘The World Will Burn’ blasts through with barreling double-bass drumming and intense up-tempo riffing in a steady groove with dexterous drum patterns, heavy guitar rhythms and a series of high-pitched vocal wails that match the intensity of the guitar patterns with nimble lead-work, dynamic drumming and a simple, groovy pace throughout the brief run-time to give this a fine last burst of chaos to end things on a high note.

    Another strong set of relentless speed-metal anthems from one of the more consistent and enjoyable bands in the genre that may not top their all-time best work but certainly stands up to the majority of it and definitely tops some of the weaker efforts. There’s not a whole lot that really keeps this one down, beyond the slightly noticeable dip in intensity through the second half with a better series of songs placed up top and less instrumentals compared to the second, but these are really middling problems that have little-to-no bearing on the songs themselves which are finely tuned blasts of speed-metal with sharp thrash influences, and as a result is definitely recommended to fans of the band as well as general thrash and speed metal fans.

    Liked by 1 person

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