Thrash legends Hirax exploded out of the Orange County metal scene in 1984. Frontman Katon W. De Pena, the only major black musician in thrash's golden age, played with such Bay Area giants as Metallica, Exodus, and Testament. The early lineup recorded two albums for Metal Blade, but internal squabbles and endless label problems prevented the band from becoming a national force (the current 13-date run is its first national tour).
After splitting in 1989, the original lineup reunited in 2000, but De Pena was the only one to stick around for long. Two EPs later, he led new players through 2004's awesome The New Age of Terror LP, a flashback that recalls classic thrash the same way Municipal Waste's Hazardous Mutation recreated '80s crossover. Over spiraling leads and killing-machine drumming, De Pena shrieks fantastically cheesy lyrics about war, doom, and retribution. The ripping "Hell on Earth" is enough to make you wonder how anything stopped the band in the first place.