If I had been asked to name an Argentinian metal band during the weekly pub quiz down my local I would have been in trouble… but that was before discovering HELKER. It isn’t a surprise to me that there is a thriving metal scene in Argentina though as South America has a rich history of producing metal bands, with Sepultura and Soulfly being the first two that spring to mind.
Somewhere In The Circle (or En Algun Lugar Del Circulo if you have the Spanish version of the CD) is the 4th release from the band since their inception in 1998 and sees them moving up a notch as they have just recently signed a worldwide recording deal with AFM Records.
The first thing that will strike you when listening to the band is the similarity between the voice of vocalist Diego Valdez and the late great Ronnie James Dio. In a strange way he sounds TOO much like Dio at times and that takes you away from the music and instead to thinking about great Dio performances. That being said there are worse people that you can sound like!
The album itself is good ol’ fashioned heavy rock and that is where the problem is, there is nothing new here that we didn’t hear during the 80’s. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the album and it is very easy to listen to but it doesn’t offer anything new or exciting. If Judas Priest is your kind of thing then you will love this, but there in lies the rub… why not just listen to Judas Priest?
On the subject of Judas Priest the album features ex-vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Rob Halford look-and-sound-alike Ralf Scheepers on the track ‘Begging for Forgiveness’, a nice touch which brings a bit of weight and support to proceedings. There is even an obligatory ballad-esque track amongst the 11 songs appearing on the album with ‘Flying’ being the perfect air-grabbing, lighters-in-the-air moment during the set.
I have no doubt that in their native Argentina HELKER will do much better than they will in the European or American markets and I can see the Latin American fans, renowned for their passion and love of metal, lapping this stuff up at one of the big open air festivals during the summer.
How well it fairs on these shores will be seen when the album is released on 15th February via AFM Records.