Hirax

Hate, Fear and Power

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Because of the eight song titles scrawled upon its backside, Hirax's second release, 1986's Hate, Fear and Power, had many consumers confusing it for a full-length album, but really it was more like a mini-LP, since the band's unusually brief songs summed up to less than 20 minutes of music. In this, as well as most every other respect, Hate, Fear and Power was a surprise-free continuation of the band's debut, Raging Violence (this one, a true long-player), and no amount of well-intentioned revisionist history can alter the fact that Hirax were very much a one-trick pony. Not a bad trick, of course: combining speed metal, thrash, and hardcore into an early form of crossover; but one trick nonetheless, which was made all the more polarizing by the love 'em or hate 'em vocals of Katon W. DePena. Here, as in their debut, his relatively accomplished but ultimately repetitive alternating of operatic cries and spoken lower registers drew much of the attention away from rather decent, raging moshers like "Blind Faith," "Lightning Thunder," and "Criminal Punishment," as well as more dynamic detours into slower tempos like "The Last War," "The Plague" and "Imprisoned by Ignorance." The 30-second opening title cut could be said to predate the artistic, less-is-more aesthetic of grindcore, and "Unholy Sacrifice" actually hinted at the future blending of thrash and hardcore with its standalone bass clusters, but not enough to categorically stamp Hirax's passport into crossover nation. [In 1987, when it seemed as though Hirax's career had come to an end, Hate, Fear and Power was reissued alongside its predecessor, Raging Violence, by Metal Blade on a two-for-one set entitled Not Dead Yet.]