Hirax - Noise Chaos War
Thrash Corner Records
17 songs (51:24)
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Tony

As a rookie on MR, I stated my intent clearly to review Extreme Metal in my application process. Not only is the instrumentation and talent most appealing to me, but the variation between the 3 major methods of Extreme Metal always keeps it fresh. In fact, I could survive on a constant diet of Extreme Metal on my Zune, and would surely be capable of doing with out my Power Metal and NWOBHM. (except for maybe Iron Maiden )

When James left the team (which is unfortunate because his reviews are amongst the best and a top 3 read out of all the guys that have been here since I started reading June of 07) I knew I had to answer the call and work my specialty in Black Metal. I needed to efficiently purport my opinion on Black Metal and have the readers take it seriously. Trying to reach this goal has led me to work on many more Black Metal reviews than Thrash and Death Metal. I've been theming my weeks lately. Last week was Austria week, and this week I've been working on Thrash Metal. I usually work genre by genre and I figured in honor of my wonderful vacation for my fathers wedding to San Francisco I'd review a compilation of 3 EP's that I gathered during my impressive 15 disc haul in from Amoeba and Rasputin Records. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Noise Chaos War the collection of heavy riffs and outstanding play by underrated California stalwarts, Hirax.

With all the legends of American Thrash emerging from California (3 out of the big 4, Exodus , Vio-Lence Testament the list goes on forever) Hirax have had a large fan base, but are certainly an underrated and less popular band. While Hirax don't have Kirk Hammett on guitar or Dave Lombardo on drums, they have a talented group of 5 guys led by an essential personality who helped establish the California scene: Katon W. De Pena.

Noise Chaos War is a compilation of 3 21st Century EP's, 2000s Barrage of Noise and 2007s Chaos and Brutality and Assassins of War. Since this is a 3 EP compilation, it's going to be hard to gauge this album as a whole, so musically I'm choosing to dissect this record as a 3 Headed Thrash Monster.

Anyways, sorry about the couple of hundred words of back story, I sometimes find it necessary to provide a little flavor into why I'm choosing an album. The first head of Cerberus is Barrage of Noise which is the closest to Crossover and Punk that this release gets. Especially on songs like Barrage of Noise and Murder One The first head however also offers a lighter side with a few clean guitar intros and interludes nicely played before giving way to what is one of the top tracks on this EP: Mouth Sewn Shut. This song offers some heavy as balls riffage, nice groovy drumming, and of course the one constant that drives Hirax, frontman Katon W. De Pena. I have only recently begun to get into Hirax but already De Pena has established himself as the most awesome Thrash vocalist ever in my opinion. He has a melodic, vibrato laden voice with a solid maintained range. His voice sounds more like it belongs in the NWOBHM than it does in Thrash. Many readers expressed their distaste for De Pena's vocals but to me they are both melodic and brutal, providing a real edge to it. He surpassed Steve Souza as my top Thrash vocalist and one of my all time favorites. As Barrage of Noise drags on, the songs only get better as Beyond the Church shows why Thrash is such a great genre. It has everything that I enjoy in a Thrash Metal song: Good riffs, groove, and some attacking vocals and solos that shred hard. For not having a big name in their string ensemble, they certainly are great at constructing powerful guitar solos out of nothing. Many of the songs here have solos early in the songs that really establish the pace and energy that is fed from the solo.

The final song is French Pearl which is surprisingly just a couple minutes of beautiful acoustic guitar playing alone. A strange way to close an album yes, but wonderfully played. More power to them.

I like to listen to the album as I write reviews even though I may have heard it before. Hearing the album alongside my writing makes it easy to notice every nuance that the album has to offer. Chaos and Brutality just entered the picture and man does the title track slay. This is the heaviest song so far that I've heard and it is marginally more brutal than anything on Barrage of Noise. Walk With Death is a good song with some interesting portions, but cannot compare to the strength of the next song, 100,000 Strong . Strangely enough, Chaos and Brutality ends on a reprise, another interesting decision to end on that note, and not to my liking. On Chaos and Brutality, I noticed Katon either layers his vocals or puts on a ton of reverb. Either way, it doesn't help or hurt the album. I like his voice the way it is, but the reverb helps the atmosphere and foreboding riffs established on Chaos and Brutality. If I only owned the first two EP's I would have been disappointed, but the reprise leads directly into the first track of the 3rd head of metalhead Cerberus: Lucifer's Infierno. From the first song to the last, Assassins of War is miles better and the best EP Hirax have made this millenium. It's certainly the finest of the 3 EP's, but it doesn't take away from the first 2.

Following that track is another outstanding thrasher entitled Summon the Death Dealers; a song which includes moderately paced double bass drumming and a quickened but not speedy upbeat main riff. Summon the Death Dealers is one of the longest and heaviest songs on this leg of Noise Chaos War clocking in at well over 6 minutes. Once again this song displays the incredibly underrated guitar playing, with some real scorching solos on display. Katon's vocals really highlight the song and are amongst his best in years here on Assassins of War. The great work continues on until what is possibly my favorite Hirax song of all time takes flight in the only real closer of Thrash Cerberus. The title track, Assassins of War. This song has the catchiest chorus in Thrash I've heard in a very long. Yes the riffs are simple, and the riffs are what make Hirax awesome, but the guitar solos are numerous and phenomenal with the drums shining in their finest hour. What makes Hirax a success in my mind is Katon's vox, and they are amazing here. They are their warmest, fullest, and display the most talent Katon clearly has in tow on this Noise Chaos War.

I really like Hirax and I love this compilation. Sorry for the background story, and the lack of complicated linguistics and metaphorical initiatives that I usually use in my negative and Black Metal reviews. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to enjoy this album, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to enjoy Thrash, so why not put it in plain and simple paragraphs, showing just why Hirax are great after all these years, how Katon W. De Pena is essential to both California Thrash and metal amongst African American populations, and how old school Thrash is still alive, and the riff cannon aimed at your head is still held by the underrated legends, Hirax

Killing Songs :
Beyond the Church, Chaos and Brutality, 100,000 Strong, Lucifer's Infierno, Summon the Death Dealers, Assassins of War
Tony quoted no quote
Other albums by Hirax that we have reviewed:
Hirax - Immortal Legacy reviewed by Andy and quoted 75 / 100
Hirax - El Rostro De La Muerte reviewed by Tony and quoted 85 / 100
Hirax - The New Age of Terror reviewed by Jason and quoted 30 / 100
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