Hirax
CD COLLECTION
Hirax 2004

The thrash metal band Hirax was formed in California in 1984 by vocalist Katon W. DePena, bassist Gary Monardo, guitarist Bob Savage and drummer Brian Keith. After an early demo one of their tracks ended up on the Metal Massacre VI compilation. After DePena quit the band in 1986 to later form Phantasm they rehearsed with former Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff for a while until he left to form Piranha. Hirax soon folded. In late 1987 the band reformed with the original line-up and the following year a three track demo was recorded. Tracks from this demo later on ended up on the "Blasted In Bangkok" single. A final reunion took place in the year 1999. Eventually only DePena remained from the original band and ex-Deliverance/Steel Vengeance guitarist Glenn Rogers was added to the fold. Together with Glenn the band released one of their finest albums to date titled "The New Age of Terror" in 2004. In '05 the band began recording demos for their follow-up CD. However, on November 23rd, 2005, the band cancelled their upcoming Japanese tour following the departure of Glenn Rogers (lead guitars), Angelo Espino (bass), Dave Chedrick (drums) and Dave Watson (lead guitars). In 2006 DePena announced that his new band (Lance Harrison-guitars, John Tabares-drums) was recording a new CD titled "Assassins of War". In 2006 DePena announced that his new band featuring Lance Harrison-guitars and John Tabares-drums were about to record a new CD titled "Assassins of War". Soon after, Glenn Rogers (Once Dead) rejoined the fold as well.

Hirax - Not Dead Yet (Black Devil) 1987

1. "Demons/Evil Forces" (3:20)
2. "Blitzkrieg Air Attack" (2:04)
3. "Guardian Protector" (1:35)
4. "Bombs of Death" (1:44)
5. "Defeat of Amalek" (3:03)
6. "Raging Violence" (2:49)
7. "Call of the Gods" (1:16)
8. "Warlords Command" (2:35)
9. "Suicide" (2:33)
10. "Executed" (1:37)
11. "The Gauntlet" (1:59)
12. "Destruction and Terror" (2:29)
13. "Destroy" (1:04)
14. "Bloodbath" (1:52)
15. "Hate, Fear and Power" (0:28)
16. "Blind Faith" (2:48)
17. "Unholy Sacrifice" (2:00)
18. "Lightning Thunder" (2:01)
19. "The Last War" (2:29)
20. "The Plague" (1:52)
21. "Imprisoned by Ignorance" (1:55)
22. "Criminal Punishment" (2:00)

Katon W. DePena at Bang Your Head, Germany 2004

"Not Dead Yet" compiles Hirax's first two albums; "Ragin Violence (1985) and "Hate, Fear and Power" (1986) for release on one CD. This compliation, featuring artwork by Pushead, was originally released on Metal Blade in 1987 and was recently re-released by Hirax on their own Black Devil Records. The music here is pure speed metal, through and through. Vocalist Katon W. DePena has style unlike any I've ever heard before or since, although I have heard him compared to guys like John Cyriis (Agent Steel). The disc is filled with thrash chords, hardcore riffs and speedy guitar solos. Lyrically the band is all over the map, with themes of violence and war ("Bombs of Death") and others having medieval themes ("Defeat of Amalek", "Warlords Command"). A demo version of "Bombs of Death", also appearing on Metal Massacre VI. My CD is autographed by Katon W. DePena.

Powergod recorded a cover of "Bombs of Death".

Barrage of Noise Hirax - Barrage of Noise (Deep Six Recors) 2001

1."Murder One" (2:49)
2. "Barrage of Noise" (0:58)
3. "Walk with Death" (4:44)
4. "Broken Neck" (1:45)
5. "Jade" [instrumental] (2:14)
6. "Mouth Sown Shut" (3:05)
7. "Beyond the Church" (4:01)
8. "French Pearl" [instrumental] (2:39)

Hirax reform in 2001 with a completely new line-up, save for resident metalhead and vocalist Katon W. DePena. His voice is the biggest link to Hirax's past as the music here is not the same old thrash of the bands' first two albums. That may sound like a bad thing, but personally I like the music here better than anything on "Raging Violence" or "Hate, Fear & Power". The band still plays fast, aggressive thrash metal, but the new band members seem to know how to write more memorable guitar riffs and add some groove to the songs. "Walk With Death", for example, sports a heavy, down-tuned, mid-paced guitar riff, as opposed to the hyper fast stuff like "Barrage of Noise" and "Mouth Sown Shut". These two songs are more typical of what I expect from Hirax. This EP also features two instrumentals; "Jade" starts off as a haunting, melodic piece and builds up to a mid-paced chug. The album finishes off with "French Pearl", a delicate, acoustic guitar piece that is uncharacteristic of the fury of the rest of the CD. My only complaint is that the guitars seem a bit muddy or out of tune or something. Otherwise, the mixture of textures, tempos, and the punk like aggression from song to song make for a solid listen from beginning to end.

Hirax - El Diablo Negro (Deep Six) 2001

1. "I See Blood Red" (:58)
2. "Slit Your Wrist" (Anti-Suicide Song) (2:51)
3. "El Diabo Negro" (3:48)

Orignally released as a 7" vinyl EP (see below), this CD reissue is actually single than an EP, as "El Diablo Negro" features the title track and two very short, punk-influence thrash numbers. The title track is prime Hirax and was thankfully re-recorded on the band's 2004 album "The New Age of Terror". This version has that same punk delivery that the first two songs have, whereas the version on "The New Age of Terror" is tighter. Personally I prefer the newer version. My copy is autographed by vocalist Katon D. Pena.

Breaking Point
Hirax - The New Age Of Terror
(Masoleum Records) 2004

1. "Kill Switch" (3:46)
2. "Hostile Territory" (1:45)
3. "The New Age of Terror" (4:54)
4. "Swords of Steel" (3:59)
5. "Into the Ruins" (:46)
6. "Massacre of the Innocent" [instrumental] (1:41)
7. "Hell on Earth" (4:23)
8. "Suffer" (3:38)
9. "El Dia de los Muertos" [instrumental] (2:13)
10. "El Diablo Negro" [new version] (4:14)
11. "Unleash the Dogs of War" (5:56)

Simply put, this is one of the best thrash metal releases to come out in a long, long time. Hirax have long been a name in the metal scene and "The New Age of Terror" is their comeback release. The band wisely added guitarist Glenn Rogers to the fold, who writes a large majority of the music on this CD. Those into the thrash underground might recognize Glenn's name from the first Vengeance Rising and Deliverance CDs. Glenn helped write a good chunk of one of the all-time greatest thrash metal albums "Human Sacrifice." Likewise, Glenn's influence is heard throughout this CD. Take a listen to just about any song on this CD and see if you don't hear that same furious fire from "Human Sacrifice." As a matter of fact, Glenn even plays tribute to his Vengeance days in the short instrumental "Massacre of the Innocent" ending the song with the opening notes of "White Throne". Ahhhh, but Roger is not the only member of Hirax.

Hirax 2004
Hirax "New Age of Terror" line-up

Dave Watson guitar pick
Dave Watson guitar pick

Original vocalist Katon W. DePena is the band's mainstay. His unique howl is unlike any other and really gives Hirax their unique sound. Together with guitarist Dave Watson, bassist Angelo Espino and drummer Jorge Lacobellis, Hirax are one fierce thrash unit. This CD starts off with the aggressive, ferocious track "Kill Switch". This intensity doesn't let up throughout the the CD. Each and every song is as intense and aggressive as the next. The CD finishes with one of my favorite tracks on the CD, "Unleash the Dogs of War." Another standout cut is "El Diablo Negro," a re-recorded version of a Hirax classic. On top of great songwriting, this CD also features a very good recording with razor sharp, buzz-saw guitars. Now I want to see these guys live.

I was fortunate enough to get to hang out and share a stage with Glenn Rogers for a couple of days in August of 2005. Since Glenn was the original guitarist and wrote some of the material on the first Vengeance Rising CD, he came out on stage and performed with Once Dead, which is the band I am currently singing for. At our practice the evening before I had Glenn sign both my Deliverance CD and my Hirax - New Age of Terror CD.

I also have a green vinyl copy of "The New Age Of Terror" autographed by Katon, Glenn and Angelo.

Thrash ''Til Death Hirax - Thrash 'Til Death-Live in Concert (Black Devil Records) 2006
Live at the Minneapolis Mayhem Festival 2, May 6, 2005 Minneapolis, MN

1. "El Dia de los Muertos"
2. "Massacre of the Innocent"
3. "Blind Faith"
4. "The New Age of Terror"
5. "Hate, Fear and Power"
6. "Hostile Territory"
7. "Destroy"
8. "Broken Neck"
9. "El Diablo Negro"
10. "Killswitch"
11. "Walk With Death"
12. "Barrage of Noise"
13. "The Plague"
14. "Bombs of Death"
15. "Unleash the Dogs of War"


Angelo Espino bass pick

BONUS MATERIAL
Bang Your Head Open Air Festival warm-up gig
June 26, 2003 Balingen,
Germany

16. "Blind Faith"
17. "Warlord Command"
18. "Bombs of Death"
19. "Mouth Sewn Shut"
20. "Demons Evil Forces"
Bang Your Head Open Air Festival
June 28, 2003 Balingen, Germany

21. "Hate, Fear and Power"
22. "Bombs of Death"
23. "Mouth Sewn Shut" (guest guitar Jake Starr)
Sweden Rock Festival
June 12, 2004 Solvesborg, Sweden

24. "El Diablo Negro"
25. "Killswitch"
26. "Bombs of Death"
Tidal Wave Festival
June 19, 2004 San Francisco, CA

27. "Hate, Fear and Power"
28. "Demons Evil Forces"
29. "Walk With Death"
30. "Hate, Fear and Power"
31. "Demons Evil Forces"
The Pound KUSF 23rd Anniversary
May 13, 2005 San Francisco, CA

32. "Unleash the Dogs of War"

Glenn Rogers & myself
Glenn Rogers (Hirax) and myself on stage with Once Dead (May 2005).

Well, they say live albums are an end of an era. In this new millennium, live albums seem to have been replaced with live DVDs. Hirax's "Thrash 'Til Death" is the end of another era in their history. Before the release of this DVD, Katon's entire band left for reasons that aren't really important to go into in this review. This is a shame because I really think that Katon, Angelo and Glenn had a chemisty together, and no where was that more apparent than on this live DVD. (Soon after writing this review I received news that Glenn was back in Hirax, although Angelo Espino and Dave Watson have been replaced.) "Thrash 'Til Death" was recorded live at the Minnealpolis Mayehem II festival and captures the band in their prime. The band is energetic and the crowds are rowdy. The sound isn't perfect, but then, it's thrash metal! It's not suppose to be pristine. The band charges through a good selection of songs from Hirax's whole catalog, focusing heavily on the fantastic "New Age of Terror" material. The video is professional and features multiple camera angles. The band is obviously enjoying themselves on stage. Bassist Angelo Espino stomps around with an authority like he owns the stage. Glenn Rogers and Dave Watson are a solid team, shredding through the entire show. The star of the show is founding member Katon DePena, who has the audience in his hands. What more do I need to say? This is fantastic. If that weren't enough, there is a ton of bonus footage including all the songs listed above, a promo video, discography, photo gallery, and a hidden live track from 1985 from Fender's Ballroom, Long Beach, CA. Thrash 'til Death!

Assassins of War
Hirax - Assassins of War
(Deep Six/Black Devil) 2007

1."Lucifer's Infierno" (3:10)
2. "Summon the Death Dealers" (6:43)
3. "City of the Dead" (4:31)
4. "Invasion" (2:23)
5. "Assassins of War" (4:35)

Hirax 2006
Hirax 2007 (L to R): Lance Harrison, Steve Harrison, Katon W. De Pena, Glenn Rogers, Fabricio Ravelli.

Hirax return in '07 with an almost completely new line-up and a new EP. Since the writing team of Glenn Rogers and Katon W. DePena are still in place from "New Age of Terror", the new EP continues in much the same manner. "Assassins of War" features five new songs of blistering thrash metal. The disc starts off with what is sure to become a staple of Hirax shows, "Lucifer's Infierno". The song starts off with a mean, slow mid-paced crunch before bursting into a fast, speed metal number with a quick down beat. Katon's raspy, charismatic cackles are in fine form. The guitar tag team of Lance Harrison and Glenn Rogers both unleash some fast guitar solos towards the end of the song as well. "Summon the Death Dealers" starts of with a familiar Glenn Rogers sounding open before picking up the speed. Once again, the song is completed with some tag team guitar solos. This song is a little bit slower than the album opener and has a memorable, repeated chorus. "City of the Dead" is a mid-paced thrasher complete with a furious double bass assault and Katon screaming in his best punk/crossover voice. "Invasion" is a short, slower, doomy, heavy metal number with a Black Sabbath influence. This song acts as an opening for the title, which is guaranteed to be a classic in the Hirax catalog. The title track has a familiar sound. Those familiar with Glenn's work with Deliverance and Vengeance will be pleased with this song. To put it in the simplest terms, "Assassins of War" rules!

My copy is autographed by Glenn Rogers.

Chaos and Brutality
Hirax - Chaos And Brutality
(Black Devil Records) 2007

1. "Chaos And Brutality" (3:34)
2. "Walk With Death" (3:24)
3. "100.000 Strong" [instrumental] (1:39)
4. "Lucifer’s Infierno Reprise [instrumental] (1:07)

Brand new CD/EP from Katon and Company recorded in February 2007 at Shiva Industries in California. In reality this is more of a CD single for "Chaos and Brutality" than it is an EP. Basically it is the only new song on this and was recorded at the same time the tracks for "Assassins of War" were recorded. The re-recorded "Walk with Death" is quite good. I like it better than the "Barrage of Noise" version. The playing is tighter and the overall production gives it less of a punk/crossover feel and more of a metal vibe. A lot of this is due to Glenn Rogers influence on the band. The final two songs are short instrumentals that the band used as concert intros. Unfortunately all this material is the last studio recordings of Hirax with Glenn Rogers doing the writing. I must also say that this is one of the most expensive CD singles I have ever purchased at $13 for one new song, one re-recorded song and two short intros. I would have rather have had the two actual songs on this CD released on "Assassins of War".

Thrash & Destroy Hirax - Thrash & Destroy (SelfMadeGod) 2008

DVD (Disc 1)
Keep It True Festival #9, Dittigheim, Germany
1. "El Dia de los Muertos" [intro]
2. "100,000 Strong"
3. "Lucifer´s Infierno"
4. "Blind Faith"
5. "The New Age of Terror"
6. "Chaos and Brutality"
7. "Hate, Fear and Power"
8. "Hostile Territory"
9. "Destroy"
10. "Broken Neck"
11. "Bombs of Death"
12. "El Diablo Negro"
13. "Barrage of Noise"
14. "Walk With Death"
15. "The Plague"
16. "Mouth Sewn Shut"
17. "Assassins of War"
18. "Unleash the Dogs of War "
BONUS (Metal Forces Night, Lörrach, Germany)
1. "The New Age of Terror"
2. "Chaos and Brutality"
3. "Hate, Fear and Power"
4. "Hostile Territory"
5. "Destroy"
6. "Broken Neck"
7. "Demons Evil Forces"
8. "El Diablo Negro"
9. "Barrage of Noise"
10. "Walk With Death"
11. "The Plague"
12. "Bombs of Death"

CD (Disc 2)
Keep It True Festival #9, Dittigheim, Germany
1. "El Dia de los Muertos" [intro] (2:30)
2. "100,000 Strong" (1:46)
3. "Lucifer´s Infierno" (3:09)
4. "Blind Faith" (3:20)
5. "The New Age of Terror" (6:37)
6. "Chaos and Brutality" (4:31)
7. "Hate, Fear and Power" (1:14)
8. "Hostile Territory" (4:59)
9. "Destroy" (4:55)
10. "Broken Neck" (2:35)
11. "Bombs of Death" (4:06)
12. "El Diablo Negro" (6:51)
13. "Barrage of Noise" (2:21)
14. "Walk With Death" (4:08)
15. "The Plague" (1:57)
16. "Mouth Sewn Shut" (4:38)
17. "Assassins of War" (6:36)
18. "Unleash the Dogs of War " (11:35)


Autographed 2008 Hirax set list

 

 

 

 

Hirax unleashed, raw and live! "Thrash and Destroy" highlights the band’s performance at Keep It True XI in Dittigheim, Germany. Katon and crew rip through an extremely high energy 75-minute set that includes classic 80's favorites such as "Bombs of Death" as well as plenty of their newer material. In my personal opinion, I think the stuff the band has done since Glenn Rogers joined the band and recorded "The New Age of Terror" is better than anything the band did before. Songs like "Lucifer's Inferno", "Unleash the Dogs of War", "Chaos and Brutality" and "Hostile Territory" simply rule. Unfortunately, Rogers is absent from this recording as he has exited the band for a short time and recorded with California thrashers Once Dead. Thankfully, Glenn has returned to Hirax and is again touring and writing with them. Katon, Rogers and the Harrison brothers seem to be the perfect formula for Hirax.

The multiple camera angles are very professional looking and are actually better than their other live DVD, "Thrash 'til Death". Although the sound recording is raw, the audio is overall clean with each instrument heard. The band's performance isn't extremely tight, but then this is thrash metal as it was recorded. I seriously doubt there are any overdubs to fix the rubs. Katon's rant at two audience members who were fighting in the middle of "Hostile Territory" was amusing. I actually thought this was rather cool. Katon is metal!

Thankfully the band saw fit to release the recording on CD as well as DVD. I've said it before, but I spend much more time listening to music than watching it. As a matter of fact, as of writing this, I had heard the audio a few times, while only having seen the video once.

There are several version of this live recording. Two different DVD/CD combos were released. The photo above is the European release, which is the one I own. The US version includes the same tracks on both the CD and DVD as far as I am aware, but has a completely different cover. There is also the double LP version on colored wax, which also includes a completely different cover.

El Rostro de La Muerta Hirax - El Rostro de la Muerte (Thrash Corner Records) 2009

1.    Baptized By Fire    (4:18)    
2.    Flesh and Blood    (5:46)    
3.    Eradicate Mankind   (3:39)    
4.    Chaos and Brutality    (3:38)    
5.    El Rostro de la Muerte (The Face of Death)    (6:22)    
6.    Blind Faith    (2:49)   
7.    Horrified    (2:52)    
8.    Battle of the North [instrumental]  (1:33)    
9.    The Laws of Temptation   (4:39)    
10.  Death Militia    (1:51)    
11.  Broken Neck    (2:01)    
12.  Violent Assault    (3:32)    
13.  Cuando Cae la Oscuridad (When Darkness Falls) [instrumental] (1:57)    
14.  Satan’s Fall    (6:24)
Hirax 2010

The legendary thrash mongers Hirax return with their first full length release since 2004. In between that time and now the band has gone through many members and has release as handful of EPs and singles. What has not changed however, is the writing team of Glenn Rogers and Katon DePena. Together with Lance Harrison – Guitar, Steve Harrison – Bass and longtime drummer Jorge Iacobellis the band has delivered one fine thrash metal opus! It may sound trite, but El Rostro de la Muerte  is exactly what anyone would expect from Hirax; fast, heavy, on-the-edge, thrash metal complete with manic guitar solos and Katon’s raspy yell. It is, of course, Katon’s voice that gives Hirax much of their character. Call me a Hirax fanboy, but this CD has been in blasting from my CD player for weeks upon receiving it in the mail.

The album does feature a couple tracks that were previously released. “Blind Faith” was originally recorded in 1986 on the “Hate Fear & Power” record. This new version completely slaughters the original version. As well, “Chaos and Brutality” and “Satan’s Fall” were released last year as a limited edition singles. I believe the versions here are nearly the same as the previously released single versions. It’s also worth mentioning that the cover art was done by legendary artist Ed Repka who has also done work for Megadeth, Violence, Death, Municipal Waste, Toxik, among others.

My copy is autographed by Lance Harrison, Katon W. De Pena, Glenn Rogers and Jorge Iacobellis. It was also WAY cool to see my name listed in the Hirax thank you list. You rule Glenn.

Noise Chaos War Hirax - Noise Chaos War (Thrash Corner/Black Devil) 2010

1."Murder One" (2:49)
2. "Barrage of Noise" (0:58)
3. "Walk with Death" (4:44)
4. "Broken Neck" (1:45)
5. "Jade" [instrumental] (2:14)
6. "Mouth Sown Shut" (3:05)
7. "Beyond the Church" (4:01)
8. "French Pearl" [instrumental] (2:39)
9. "Chaos And Brutality" (3:34)
10. "Walk With Death" (3:24)
11. "100.000 Strong" [instrumental] (1:39)
12. "Lucifer’s Infierno Reprise [instrumental] ( 1:07)
13."Lucifer's Infierno" (3:10)
14. "Summon the Death Dealers" (6:43)
15. "City of the Dead" (4:31)
16. "Invasion" (2:23)
17. "Assassins of War" (4:35)
18. Bombs of Death [live video]

Katon
Katon DePena 2010

This release collects three Hirax EPs on one disc. It features 2000's 'Barrage of Noise' and the 2007 EP's 'Chaos and Brutality' and 'Assassins of War.' 17 songs in all, plus a live video of "Bombs of Death" live in Japan in 2009. Not really an essential release for most Hirax die-hards, since most of us already own the EPs, but a nice collector's disc nonetheless. For those who don't like short EP's and only care about full length albums, this collection is perfect. The insert features the cover art from each of the EPs. In my opinion, the 2007 material is much stronger than the 2000 songs, both in production and songwriting. "Walk With Death" is featured twice on this EP but both are vastly different.

Immortal Legacy Hirax - Immortal Legacy (AFM) 2014

1.   Black Smoke (4:35)
2.   Hellion Rising (4:05)
3.   Victims of the Dead (3:07)
4.   Thunder Roar, The Conquest, La Boca de la Bestia - The Mouth of the Beast (4:54)
5.   Earthshaker [instrumental] (0:44)
6.   Tied to the Gallows Pole (4:05)
7.   Deceiver (3:42)
8.   Immortal Legacy (4:40)
9.   S.O.W. (0:57)
10. Violence of Action (3:36)
11. Atlantis (Journey to Atlantis) [instrumental] (1:30)
12. The World Will Burn (2:07
BONUS TRACK (LP only)
13. Mass Hysteria (03:45)

It's been five years since Katon DePena and his band of thrashers called Hirax have released a new CD. Since that time, gone from the fold is longtime guitarist and songwriter Glenn Rogers, who went on to join Viking for a short spell and ultimately ended up in the re-formed Heretic. From "The New Age of Terror" (2004) through "El Rostro De La Muerte" (2009) Katon and Glenn were the only two constants.

So how does this new album and line-up compare to those two albums? Frankly, Hirax are stilling thrashing and destroying like they always have. DePeña's crew have unleashed another fast and brash album with each and every song beating the listener over the heard with a steel hammer. Guitarist Lance Harrison definitely delivers the goods. The biggest difference is, Glenn wrote more memorable riffs and his songs tended to be more diverse; offering more variety in tempo without sacrificing aggression. This version of Hirax reminds me of the classic 80's Hirax when speed, speed and more speed ruled the day. That is not to say the songs are un-memorable, but it did take me a few spins before these songs really began to sink in. There are a couple surprises mixed in as well, such as the short guitar solo/instrumental titled "Earthshaker" and a bass solo titled "Atlantis (Journey to Atlantis)". 

Joinging Katon and Lance Harrison is younger brother on bass, and the battery of neck breaking drumming by Jorge Iacobellis. Lead guitar duties are handled by Mike Guerrero and guests guitar solos by the likes of Jim Durkin (Dark Angel), Juan Garcia (Agent Steel/Abattoir/Evildead), and Rocky George (Suicidal Tendencies). Philip Lawvere, the artist behind such classic album covers as Kreator's  "Pleasure To Kill" and Celtic Frost's "Emperor's Return", designed the "Immortal Legacy" cover. It is also worth mentioning that Bill Metoyer who worked with the band back on their debut album was also brought in as producer of "Immortal Legacy". In other words, despite the new blood, Hirax are still as old-school thrash metal as they ever have been and "Immortal Legacy" does not disappoint. 

I was lucky enough to get in on the Limited Edition blue vinyl and CD version of this album for only $20 when it was first released. Though the album is still available from Black Devil Records, and other outlets, it's now $30 plus shipping for the vinyl/CD combo. 

Related Collections:
Vengeance Rising | Deliverance |
Once Dead