By Keith Carman
Thrash metal’s inherent underdogs, longstanding outfit Hirax never seem to garner the respect, attention or praise they so diligently stalk. Some of that might be chalked up to sheer luck but as this latest release proves, there is an element of plain old desirability that plays a large role. A solid offering that never slips below expectations, El Rostro De La Muerte admirably strives to create some elbow room between Exodus’ Pleasures Of The Flesh and Testament’s The New Order. However, the overall sameness of each track and vocalist Katon W. De Pena’s unique albeit unaltering shrill squawk fail to offer a real sense of dynamics. The result is one where no severe faults can be picked out but at the same time, nothing extraordinary asserts candidacy for essential—or even notable—status. It’s one of those, listen-if-you-have-it, forget-it-if-you-don’t affairs, which kind of sucks because it feels like trying to make a relationship with a nice but unexciting person work when you should really just move on.