is a heavy metal band from Houston, Texas, which was formed in 1982.
Their musical style is considered technical speed metal. HELSTAR
started out with a more basic metal style in 1983 with 2 demos followed
by their first studio album in 1984 entitled ‘Burning Star’ for Combat
Records, making them label mates with Megadeth and Exodus. Struggles
within the band and management issues broke apart the line-up of that
time. After a year or so, the band reformed and released the ‘Remnants
of War’ album, also on Combat, the album was produced by Randy Burns. In
1989 the band released ‘Nosferatu’, which many fans consider their
greatest achievement. It was based on the early Dracula film and
contained spoken sound bites from the movie. Between 1990 and 1993
Helstar released a few demos that failed to receive great recognition.
In 1995 Helstar released a new studio album entitled ‘Multiples of
Black’ however, it did not have the quality one can find in their
earlier albums and fans consider this album their worst release to date.
members of Helstar, namely James Rivera, cooperated in other bands
between 1993 and 2002: Seven Witches for a short time in 1993, Distant
Thunder in 1995 and Destiny's End. This was an all-star group which was
put together by James Riviera and they released the studio albums
‘Breathe Deep the Dark’ in 1998 and ‘Transition’ in 2002.
Helstar had several reunions, the first one took place in 2001. These
reunions were primarily organized by James Rivera and longtime bassist
Jerry Abarca. Several live albums were produced in this period, but the
band was unable to produce any new material. In 2006, for the first time
in over fifteen years, James Rivera and Larry Barragan reunited and
Helstar were officially declared musically active again. Along with
Jerry, James and Larry also reunited with the ‘Remnants of War’ album
guitarist Robert Trevino and Eternity Black drummer Russell De'leon.
This lineup has since released ‘Sins of the Past’, a “greatest hits
collection" of re-recorded songs. A new album was released with the
Remnants of War line-up in 2008 entitled ‘The King of Hell’. Now, in
2010, right in an up-coming renaissance of classic heavy metal HELSTAR
are back with a brand new album, entitled ‘The Glory Of Chaos’, which
will leave no doubts of their exceptional status.
It appears that
fans will get more than they bargained for with
‘The Glory Of
The band can't
wait to bring
‘The Glory Of
to the fans and they are looking forward to seeing everyone on tour in
support of the new album. We tracked down Larry Barragan (Guitar)
to answer a couple of questions, here you can read what he had to
say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com
Your latest album ‘Glory
will be released in a couple of weeks, so of course we’d like to ask
you a couple of questions about it!
First of all, congrats with your new album! How are you doing?
Dude, thanks! Yeah, we’re doing good man. We’re pretty excited as
well. We’re all hoping for good things to happen from this one. Right
now we’re just getting ready to do a couple of shows with Raven here in
Texas and then I guess we’ll refine the show after that.
It’s been two years since ‘The King of Hell’ came out, so it seems
you took your time to create the new record. How did you launch into
writing material for ‘Glory
and how much time did you spend on creating the songs?
Well, we had a couple of songs already done, maybe as far back as ‘King
of Hell’. But, you know, we changed them a little and refined them as
time went by. We started really writing, I guess, at the end of May,
early June. We’re notoriously slow when it comes to writing songs but we
had a couple that just came together quickly. I’m not sure if that’s a
good thing or not but it definitely worked to our advantage.
Which approach did you choose to create this album, did
you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your
previous other works, or something all together different?
I guess we just focused on doing something really fast and heavy and
aggressive. We really don’t look back and say, “hey, that worked last
time, let’s do that again”. It’s always about doing something that makes
us happy first. Cause if we’re not happy with it, then why should
anybody else like it? We just wanted to cut loose and top what we had
done on ‘King of Hell’ as far as heaviness.
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
No, man, we take our time on them. Maybe to the point where we maybe
overthink the songs and arrangements but in the end, you know, we’re
happy with them. Rob’s very meticulous when it comes to the
arrangements. It’s like having an in house producer really. And now with
Mikey in the band it’s opened up a whole new world for us as far as what
we can do. He’s really taken us to a different level I believe.
How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the
typical writing process like for Helstar?
Typically, there’s a lot of booze and drugs involved. Nah, just kidding.
No, Rob and I generally start writing riffs and then we email them to
one another. And then when we think we have the song structure complete,
we’ll get together face to face and record to a click track and then we
email that to Mikey. Sometimes I’ll have the lyrics written by that
time. Sometimes. Or at least I’ll have a lyric structure in my head.
After Mikey programs the drums, he’ll send the demo back to us and
that’s when we get with James and we start working on lyrics and
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?
I think we just wanted to make a balls out heavy fuckin’ album! That was
our goal. We wanted the element of speed definitely. You can hear that.
But you know, we know that fast doesn’t always equal good. But I think
we did a good job in writing and mixing different elements that make us
what we are.
Could you please describe the implications of the title
what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
I think every member may have his own meaning for the title. You could
take it as just what’s going on in the world today, all the chaos and
pandemonium. I came with the title for demo that I was working on. I
actually came up with the title during a show, I forget where we were
playing but I remember looking out at the kids and they were going nuts.
And I thought to myself, “wow, this is the glory of chaos”.
Of course the main themes of the songs are clear, but can
you tell us where you get your inspiration from? Can you tell me a
little more about the songs? Any stories behind them?
Well, some songs have serious subjects and others are a little more fun
and wicked. “Angels Fall to Hell” is about the Pope and how he’s turned
his back on the abuse going on in the Catholic Church. “Pandemonium” is
about the media selling fear and chaos. “Monarch of Bloodshed” is about
a terrorist’s last day and what’s going through his mind. Or at least
what I thought would be going through his mind. We touched on a variety
of subjects. I always try to tell the other side of the story you know.
It may not be popular to do but it’s the only way to make people react
How important is it to you that people pay attention to
the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
The lyrics are what touch you.The lyrics are the thing that strike the
nerve so to speak. I want for people to have fun singing along with the
songs but I also want them to come away with their own meaning as well.
Sometimes a fan will come up to me and talk about certain lyrics and
they will have come up with a totally different meaning than what I had
but that’s what makes it so cool. Because then I can look at the song
and say “yeah, that’s a cool way of thinking about it”.
If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not
listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?
You know it may not sound like it when you read some of my lyrics but I
would hope they walk away with some compassion for others. Like I said
there is always two sides to the story. Sometimes you have to force
yourself to look at the ugly side and try to understand why. Why did
that bomber blow himself up just to take out a few Israelis? Was it
worth it? What drove him to do that? Was it that he was just a religious
fanatic or was it that he has been oppressed to the point that that’s
the only way he can make us understand? Or think he can make us
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
I don’t think you can say that one thing makes a song or one ingredient
makes a great song. You have to look at it as a whole. You gotta have
the riff and the sick drum beat and the cool bass line and the lyrics
have to be cool and the vocals have to kick ass. It’s got to be the
complete package. Otherwise, what good is a song if people are saying,
“cool riff, too bad the drummer didn’t play something better there”.
How did the recording process proceed and how much time
did you spend in the studio?
Mikey came in and crushed it. He finished his tracks in three days. And
then he was gone. We didn’t see him again until final mix. Once the
drums were recorded we did the rhythm tracks for the guitars and then
the bass. Then James came in and started doing vocals and in between
that we did solos and whatever dubs we needed to do. We were in there
about a month and half, not very long really. I wish we would have been
able to record over a period of two months. You know, just to give our
ears a break.
What do you think are the most typical differences
between Helstar anno 2010 and Helstar back in the eighties?
I think Helstar today is just more punch you in the face. We’re much
more aggressive in our writing. I think Helstar in the eighties was a
little more finesse.
new album? What made him the perfect man for
Helstar and can
you tell me something about him?
We produced the album along with Craig Douglas. Craig is a great
engineer and he has a great way of guiding us. We work really well
together. It’s pretty fun even though at times it may get a bit
stressful, he can keep us on track.
In which elements on the new album can one clearly hear
his vision and ideas?
Like I said we produced the album along with him, so you can’t really
put your finger on it since we all have a part in the producing.
How would you describe this album to someone that has
never listened to the band before?
I’d say it’s music to break your neck to.
Which element of the CD are you the most proud of?
I think just the fact that there’s no let up on it. Not until the outro
do we give you a rest.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
What are you personally into?
Man, I’m just like everyone else looking for answers to the meaning of
all of this. Sometimes I feel like if I can just make you think then
I’ve done my job. Personally, I just want to enjoy what little life I
have left. You know, I love life. I embrace it. It’s too short to go
around not enjoying the good times. You know, because the good times are
not guaranteed but I can tell you the bad times are. You’d better
Could you respond to the following terms in just one word
Thrash : Love it!
Underground : Heavy
Internet : Life changing
Religion : Next
Politics : Wake up.
The Netherlands : Beautiful
USA : Home
What have been the highlights and low points throughout
The highs are right now, man. I love where we are right fucking now.
These last few years have been the best times. I’ve met so many great
people and made so many wonderful friends, I’m blessed. The low points,
hey we could talk for hours about the mistakes and the negative choices
and paths I’ve taken. No need to dwell on that.
What is your opinion on the thrash scene these days? Is
there anything missing in the scene?
There are a lot of great bands doing it. Young bands doing it, but for
me I still love the guys that created the genre. Slayer and Megadeth and
Testament, all those guys were there from the beginning.
What makes Helstar different from the other heavy metal
bands out there?
I think we sound like us. And I think that James identifies this band
like no other. We’ve been doing this a long time too so I think we’ve
developed our own sound throughout the years.
With all the touring and over ten albums under your belt,
how far has Helstar surpassed your original dreams and what would you
say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?
I never dreamed that people would still be talking about ‘Remnants of
War’ and ‘Burning Star’ and all of the albums that we’ve recorded. It
just blows me away that we’ve actually created a legacy for ourselves
that no one can ever take away. And I think the most rewarding part of
this is when someone just really appreciates the art that we’ve created.
It’s humbling, very humbling.
Which goals did you have when the band started out and
how do those goals stand now?
Oh man, when we started I was just a kid. I was sixteen years old. And
when you’re that young, you think that you can make it big and play
arenas for the rest of your life. Then life slaps you across the face
and you realize that you may not get there but you can still achieve a
certain amount of success. I’m ok with where we are but I think we can
still push the envelope and make this thing a little bit bigger.
What can we expect from Helstar in the near future? Any
Yeah, yeah, we’ll be in Europe in December for a short tour and then
we’ll do a few dates here in the states. I think we’re doing ProgPower
next year. And then we’ll be back in Europe for the summer of 2011.
A last statement?
Hey, thanks Eugene for the interview. To all the fans out there, thanks
for your support and love. We totally appreciate it. If you come out to
see us, we love to hang out with you guys and drink a few pints and have
a few laughs. See you guys in December.
Rogers - Guitars
André Corbin - Guitars
Hector Pavon - Drums
Rene Luna - Drums
Frank Ferreira - Drums
Russel DeLeon - Drums
Paul Medina - Bass
(1984) Burning Star
(1986) Remnants of War
(1988) A Distant Thunder
(1995) Multiples of Black
(2000) T was The Night of a Helish Xmas
(2001) The James Rivera Legacy
(2007) Sins of the Past
(2008) The King of Hell
(2010) Glory Of Chaos