"A Carnivore's Platter" (Independent)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It should be easy to describe the music of Helarage. I've seen the band live numerous times and I was lucky enough to be given an early cassette of the band's work. But, as I sit here listening to "A Carnivore's Platter," I find myself sifting through the database of bands in my mind trying to find a match ... and there really isn't one.

Iron Maiden comes to mind, but Helarage doesn't toy with any of the Middle Eastern tones that Maiden uses so well.

Black Sabbath comes to mind, but Helarage is faster and more furious.

Grim Reaper comes to mind, but Helarage is sleeker and are better songwriters.

Helloween comes to mind, but Helarage isn't quite as sophisticated; not that they try to be.

I guess if you can imagine a band influenced by the above bands and what sound it would produce, then you get a pretty good of what Helarage is all about.

"A Carnivore's Platter" begins with "A.M. Hell (an indictment of morning)" a swift instrumental that portends of things to come. "Stay Dead" and "The Road to Revenge" are next, both excellent songs of rapid pace. "The Mortician's Tale" slows things down for a bit, using razor-sharp guitars and scary monster vocals. But it doesn't stay slow for long. The title track is next, backed with a wicked riff, an irresistible bass line and creative vocal styling. Helarage's "hit" is up next, a song that closes most of their shows and gets the audience on their feet: "Three Times Cursed" is a driving rocker with a chorus hook so sharp it will reverb through your head for days after listening to it.

"Off with Their Heads" is notable for its drums and "theater-of-the-mind" atmosphere. "Never Return" starts out with an almost eerie guitar solo and then goes on to feature some of Craig Stearnes' best vocal work. "Everything Dies" brings to mind the pace and tone of "Three Times Cursed" but doesn't quite work as well as the previous tune. And the CD finishes up with "The Only Cause," another Helarage barnburner that offers speed, power and another irresistible chorus: "Whose Side Are You On?"

Helarage has been around a long time and the band has yet to show the first signs of fatigue (at least that I've seen). They continue to play with passion and fury and their talent as musicians and songwriters deserves to be discovered. They've already won an armload of awards, including Best Heavy Metal Band in Southern California courtesy of Rock City magazine and that's a well-deserved honor.

Not only that, but how can you resist the band's motto: "If it's any good, it's better louder!"

Helarage is: Craig (The Troll) Stearnes, guitar/vocals; Kenny D. Forth, Percussions/vocals; Joe Queen, bass guitar/vocals.

For more information about Helarage, please visit their website at http://www.helarage.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2022 15:17:12 -0400.