…and so the thrash revival rolls on. Next up in the batter’s box is Hirax, the Southern California band originally formed in 1982 in the shadow of other SoCal acts like Metallica and Slayer. Through the ins and outs and machinations of a musical career, there have only been two constants in the extended history of Hirax – thrash and founding lead singer Katon W. De Pena. So what makes Hirax stand out? Well, they’ve got a thick and crunchy guitar sound, a badass attitude and a singer who looks a little like Tim Meadows. Let’s get to work.
The common album cycle these days tends to run two or three years. A band composes a selection of music, rehearses it, perfects it, records it, masters it, markets it, releases it, tours on it. Probably twice. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I chuckle as announcements roll out for albums, and every band that was formed sometime in the 80's described itself as 'legendary'. It's simply impossible for all of them to be such, but more than that, it amuses me how much revisionism has occurred of what the time was really like. Bands that have reformed and claim status as kings of metal were utterly forgotten during their initial runs, which makes it a little hard for me to believe anything they claim for a legacy.
You ever seen the Robert Redford movie “Sneakers?” There’s a scene where the character Whistler (played by one of the all-time great character actors David Strathairn,) figures out that the computer hardware his crew stole is the most powerful decryption tool ever created; that possessing it gave him complete access to every secure network in the United States. Whistler’s reaction, accompanied by a symphonic crescendo, is “Whoa.” That’s how I feel about Warbringer’s new album “Empires Collapse.”
So here we are again. Steve Souza, singer, songwriter, band leader, legend, metalhead, sports fan, father and horror aficionado extraordinaire, is back with another record. Not content to rest on the laurels of Hatriot's recent debut "Heroes of Origin," the man known as Zetro is determined to take the nearly unprecedented step of releasing two records inside a calendar year. The always outspoken and never shy Souza sat down with me again to talk about the new record, the present stage of metal, the latest Slayer developments, the rumors surrounding Dublin Death Patrol, the quandary of Hatriot, the Oakland Raiders and as ever, horror. It was, as you might imagine, a long conversation. In an interviewing first for me, Zetro started the conversation off without prompting. Read on and enjoy!
STEVE ‘ZETRO’ SOUZA: Have you seen “The Conjuring?” That is a good one, man. That is a fucking good one. Good story, creepy. Creepy and scary. I liked it, a lot. These guys are like paranormals and they’re couple, they do all these kinds of paranormal exercises, and the guy keeps a trinket from every one that he does and he’s got them in this room. Then he has to go and deal with this house and the house is totally fucking haunted. It’s cool. It’s one of the best horror flicks I’ve seen probably in ten years. Really good.
If you’ll be kind enough to indulge for a moment, I’m probably about to sound like the metal Garrison Keillor. You remember back in 1988 when Metallica released “…And Justice For All” and that album, in a much simpler time, gave rise to the concept of experimentation in thrash and sparked the genre’s first debate about the nature of production?
The last few years have brought to the fore what we can only assume is the new generation of thrash. Thirty years removed from it's inception, thrash is showing us a new, young face, one loaded with the promise of upstarts like Havok, out of Denver, Colorado. It is within this unique promise and potential that the band has released their new record "Unnatural Selection." We sat down with frontman and mastermind David Sanchez and discussed his band, their new record, the future of thrash and the scene in the Rockies.
M.DREW: Tell me a little bit about “Unnatural Selection,” because it sounds like your most complete, well rounded album to date. What changed for this writing process?
There are two reasons I do this. The first and most important reason is because I love music. The second reason is because every now and again, I am totally and pleasantly surprised. Let me cut to the chase before we get into the minutiae – Battlecross’ new album “War of Will” readily fulfills both of those reasons.
In recent years, we’ve witness a real revival of thrash as we once knew it. Bullet belts, gallop riff and west coast snarling are back in fashion. The more shows I go to, the more I’m seeing the return of denim, patch covered jackets and other paraphernalia ‘rescued’ from the early ‘80s that was such a part of thrash’s iconic birth. The pages of this very site have become littered with the exploits of a thrash resurgence, the genre reborn through a new generation and new eyes.
At the rate these albums have been coming out, I need to either invent a time machine so I can go back to 1983 and learn to love thrash, or stick my head in the sand for another three years until a new trend is established. The number of thrash albums hitting these days is astounding, considering how the genre was all but dead until The Big 4 came out of hibernation. It's great news for adrenaline starved fans, because nothing can pump the blood like good ol' thrash can, but it's slightly less inviting for people like me who have never been filled to the brim with youthful bile.