HELSTAR - Swirling Madness: Live in NJ

August 17, 2016, a year ago

Mark Gromen

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Felt like the Lone Star State all day, the humidity index registering 113 degrees, most of the afternoon! Rare trio of weekend tristate dates, August 13th saw the longstanding Texas institution stop by Harper's Pub, in Clementon, NJ, a venue that has heretofore never hosted a touring international metal act. Beforehand, the entire band, including mainstays James Rivera (vox) and Larry Barragan (guitar) were accessible, eating dinner in the bar area (fine selection of craft beers, bottled & on-tap) that was separated from the music room. Rivera set the record straight about the early publicity that intimated the new album, released through (Megadeth) Dave Ellefson's label, would be called Black Cathedral. "That was always just going to be the single," the Mexican Dio contends. "We thought about it. Larry slept on (idea) and thought that since we named Nosferatu after the Romanian word for vampire, figured what's wrong with our (Spanish language) heritage?" Thus Vampiro.

As the spoken word intro greets "Baptized In Blood", the singer appears onstage (drink in hand: "I never drink...wine!") sporting a red lined, black cape and a set of pointy fangs. Not sure how you sing with Halloween teeth in. Despite a trio of opening bands, surprised to see people rocking out, up front, cell phones recording the onstage action. Sort of a themed set, Rivera expressive, acting out certain lyrics, which touched heavily on the aforementioned albums (plus a smattering of the AFM material) as well as "Dracula's Castle", off the '84 debut. 'To Sleep, Per Chance To Scream" saw the "light show" simply turn the minimal stage lighting on & off, like bad ‘70s psychedelia. In black & red vestment, a tinge of silver lining his hair, James sort of looked like a mini-Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass). The crowd augmented "Run With the Pack" is always a favorite. 

Watch for the new album, out later this month, as well as more extensive live dates.  

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