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HIRAX is an American thrash metal band from Cypress, California. Starting in 1984 under the leadership of vocalist Katon W. De Pena (the band's only original member of the current line-up), the band played in Los Angeles and San Francisco with the other new thrash metal bands of the area such as Metallica, Exodus, and Slayer. The band was an early example of the thrash metal, speed metal and crossover thrash genres



HIRAX began in Los Angeles in 1984, but because of the weak metal scene in their area, they spent most of their time playing in San Francisco along with Slayer, Metallica, and Exodus, who were all part of the exciting new metal emerging from the Bay area. The original lineup was Katon W. De Pena (vocals), Bob Savage (guitar), Gary Monardo (bass), and Brian Keith (drums). They released a four-song demo in 1984. Their songs at the time were more similar to the metal bands such as Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period. This demo was widely circulated and the band became known and respected worldwide through the metal tape trading underground.  

Later in '84, guitarist Scott Owen and drummer John Tabares replaced Savage and Keith. Influenced by such great acts as Motorhead, Anvil, and Venom, Vocalist De Pena wanted the band to go in a heavier and faster direction musically; and HIRAX's thrash metal style was born.  

Because of their notoriety in the underground, HIRAX were signed to Metal Blade Records and contributed a track to the legendary compilation "Metal Massacre VI," which also featured Slayer, Voivod, Celtic Frost, Fates Warning, Metal Church, and Trouble. HIRAX contributed the track "Bombs of Death,” which was the first song recorded with the new line-up. The bands on the "Metal Massacre VI" compilation were at the forefront of a new metal movement and the record sold well.

"HIRAX, along with label mates Trouble, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Voivod, Destruction, and Possessed, helped start something very, very important that has lasted the test of time," said vocalist Katon W. De Pena.

In 1985, HIRAX contributed the track “Destruction And Terror” for the compilation "Angelican Scrape Attic" 7” flexi disc, which was Earache Records first release. They were the only U.S. band featured on the limited edition compilation. HIRAX were gaining fans at a rapid pace.

HIRAX released their first full-length recording in 1985 on Metal Blade titled "Raging Violence". The band's combination of the heaviness of metal and the speed of hardcore became known as “crossover”. Bands such as Corrosion Of Conformity, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, and Cryptic Slaughter were all part of this new scene, but Katon W. De Pena's upper-range clean vocals stood out from the pack and HIRAX gained a rabid following. HIRAX played regularly throughout California- the Bay Area bars Mabuhay Gardens, On Broadway, and Ruthies, L.A. clubs The Troubador and Country Club, and Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach, California. "One of the best shows there was when we played with Megadeth and Exciter," De Pena said.  "As soon as HIRAX hit the stage, the whole club, 1,000 headbangers strong, went completely NUTS!!"

Drummer John Tabares was replaced with former D.R.I. drummer Eric Brecht and HIRAX released a second album for Metal Blade in 1986 titled "Hate, Fear, And Power”. The band had been through a lot by this time, constantly touring and some changes in the line-up, but they continued on. HIRAX released this mini LP because the y were under pressure from the record label to put out a new product. “We weren’t their typical band so we stood out like a sore thumb," De Pena said. "The record is only 22 minutes long and we probably confused even some of our fans at the time. We didn’t want to fit in. We wanted to do our own thing. We knew that we didn’t want to follow the satanic trends of the other metal bands at the time." It was the last release the band would record for Metal Blade.

HIRAX continued on without any label support and released a 3-song demo titled "Blasted In Bangkok”. The '87 demo, which took only six hours to record and mix, was recorded the day after Katon's 23rd birthday. HIRAX was back to where they started, selling demos on their own, but now they had a loyal fan base behind them that had grown larger from the two Metal Blade releases. Because of these releases, the band would live forever in the hearts of true metalheads.  Lautrec Records from Los Angeles, California released a 7" record of two songs from the "Blasted In Bangkok" demo.  

That same year, Katon, along with drummer Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Death, Testament, and Strapping Young Lad), original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney, and guitarists Nathan Williams and Rodney Nicholson formed the band Phantasm and recorded a six-song demo with Bill Metoyer of Metal Blade Records.   Phantasm toured briefly with Nuclear Assault and disbanded in 1988 because of power struggles between the members.  

The Phantasm demo finally got a proper release on Black Devil Records and Deep Six Records on the CD titled "Wreckage,” which also includes a show from the Phantasm / Nuclear Assault tour.

Disillusioned by the music industry, De Pena left HIRAX at the end of 1988 and he was briefly replaced by Exodus frontman Paul Baloff. This lineup didn't last long and by 1989, HIRAX was no more.

For the next 8 years, De Pena continued to support the underground, working at record labels and stores. He was never far from the music that he grew up with and played.

The reunion of HIRAX was put into motion in 1997 when their friends in the band Spazz asked them to be on a split 7". HIRAX decided to use the third song ("Dying World (Shock)") from the "Blasted In Bangkok" demo and the single was released on Pessimer-Theologian Records. The record found its way to a whole new generation of underground music fans and generated a buzz about the band once again. "Later on, we would realize it was the spark that would eventually bring the band back together," De Pena said.

In 1998, HIRAX began to receive a lot of feedback and fan mail, which triggered the reformation of the band. The original line-up (Katon W. De Pena, Johnny Tabares, and Gary Monardo) reunited in 2000 and released the EP titled "El Diablo Negro".  This was the first release on Black Devil Records, De Pena's label, and Deep Six Records.  HIRAX had come full circle at this point, redefining their sound with a combination of speed and aggression similar to their early style.  

The reunion of HIRAX didn't last long, but De Pena was determined to keep the band going since interest in the band was regenerated with the release of "El Diablo Negro". In 2001, the band followed up "El Diablo Negro" with "Barrage Of Noise,” which received critical acclaim by magazines and fanzines all over the world, putting HIRAX back on the map and introducing them to a whole new audience of thrash metal fans.

A new chapter had been forged in the legacy of HIRAX. Since their reformation, the band has toured constantly throughout North America and Europe. In 2003, HIRAX played at the prestigious “Bang Your Head” Festival in Germany to an enthusiastic early-morning crowd. “Everybody had told us that the Saturday morning 10 AM slot is the hardest of the festival, " De Pena said.” Because of all the late night/early morning parties the night before, most of the crowd is in no condition to get up that early, but they did for us.  It only took a few songs before the whole huge floor was packed with headbangers.  We were told by festival organizers that HIRAX had the best turnout for the opening slot in the history of the festival." HIRAX spent the last half of 2003 writing material for their new studio recording titled "The New Age Of Terror".

 In February 2004, they entered Speed Semen Clove Factory in North Hollywood, Calif. with producer Michael Rozon (Melvins, Adrenaline O.D.) and recorded and mixed 11 tracks in an unbelievable 9 days. 

The combination of HIRAX's powerful new songs and musicianship with Rozon's thick, ultra-sharp production will guarantee "The New Age Of Terror" to be HIRAX's most successful release. The sound and feel of the recording is dark and hellish," said De Pena.

HIRAX is a band consisting of 4 talented musicians- lead guitarist Lance Harrison, bassist Steve Harrison, and drummer Jorge Iacobellis, but the band is a dream and obsession of one man. Katon W. De Pena could have left the band and never looked back and HIRAX would have become a footnote in the history of metal. But De Pena envisioned something more. HIRAX had more to prove, more songs to write, and more countries to conquer, so he reformed the band.  Metal flows through Katon W. De Pena's veins and HIRAX is the band that will keep true metal alive.

“The New Age Of Terror” was released worldwide in 2005.  HIRAX’s live assault continued with a headlining slot at Minneapolis Mayhem 2 Festival, as well as appearances at the Metal Devastation Festival in Arizona, Tijuana, Mexico, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Massachusetts.

HIRAX recently released their first DVD “Thrash Til Death,” a headbanging epic clocking in at over 2 hours. The DVD features the complete set from their performance at Minneapolis Mayhem 2, plus bonus footage from shows played in Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, and San Francisco during “The New Age Of Terror” tour.


Assassins Of War.”  2006 fierce determination to create music that will surpass all of their previous material and they will continue their never-ending support for the metal underground. 

"Chaos and Brutality" 2008

HIRAX CD/ALBUM COVERS - ALL releases are available in vinyl format:




El Rostro de la Muerte — 2010, Deep Six | Black Devil

Noise Chaos War — 2010, Thrash Corner| Black Devil

True Thrash Fest DVD live in Japan — 2010, Rock Stakk

Split 7"  "Raging Thrash' HIRAX w/Violator (Brazil) - 2010, Deep Six  |  Black Devil

Thrash and Destroy DVD — 2008, Selfmadegod | Deep Six | Black Devil

Split 7” HIRAX w/F.K.U. (Sweden) — 2008, Deep Six | Black Devil

Chaos and Brutality EP  — 2008, Black Devil

V/A Thrash Metal Warriors  — 2008, Selfmadegod | Deep Six | Black Devil

Assassins of War  EP -- 2006, Deep Six | Black Devil

V/A: Louder Than Hell  — 2005, Six Weeks

Thrash ‘Til Death DVD2005, Deep Six | Black Devil (available with "The New Age of Terror")

Not Dead Yet — 1987, (Reissued via Deep Six | Black Devil 2005)

The New Age Of Terror — 2004, Deep Six | Black Devil

Barrage Of Noise EP — 2001, Deep Six | Black Devil

V/A: Thrash of the Titans  — 2000, Know

El Diablo Negro EP  — 2000, Deep Six | Black Devil

Split 7” w/ Spazz — 1997, Pessimiser/Theologian

Blasted In Bangkok Demo—1987, Self-Released (Reissued via Deep Six, 2000.)

Blasted In Bangkok 7” — 1987, Lautrec

V/A: Best Of Metal Blade, Vol. 1 — 1987, Metal Blade

Hate, Fear And Power — 1986, Metal Blade

Raging Violence — 1985, Metal Blade

Angelican Scrape Attic 7” — 1985, Earache

V/A: Metal Massacre VI — 1984, Metal Blade

Demo — 1984, Self-Released





HIRAX pull-out poster from 

'Forged in Fire' fanzine, early 1985

San Francisco, CA 1985 - Mabuhay Gardens

Paying our dues, working our way up the ladder.  One of our favorite cities to play in.  If you go over well there, anywhere else in the world is child's play.  San Francisco has got a tough crowd.  You get respect there by earning it.  We'd rather play San Francisco than Hollywood.




Some magazines that covered Hirax in the early days.  

Sooner or later the underground lifts it's ugly head.


Scott Owen, 1987 circa.  

The shows were insane.  Scott was the only guitar player I knew who could still play guitar with so many kids running across the stage, diving into the crowd.  It never phased him.  I know deep down inside he loved it.  The Back Stage Pass is for a show we weren't even playing.  Mike Muir, from Suicidal Tendencies invited Hirax to a show he was putting on at the Balboa Theater in LA.  We had no idea how popular our band was at that time, but I think Mike did.  He brought us in through the back doors and walked us into the concert hall.  Once we walked through the curtain that lead into the hall kids started chanting "HIRAX, HIRAX, HIRAX, HIRAX"  We were blown away!  It was the first time we had heard our band's name chanted at a concert that we weren't even playing at.  



HIRAX 1987 with drummer Eric Brecht (far right).  

His brother, Kurt from DRI,  suggested we give Eric a call.  Eric moved down from San Francisco and joined HIRAX.  We knew he had toured before and could handle going on the road.  That's all we cared about, touring.


Photo on the left -We were one of the few bands from our genre of music to be featured in Maximum Rock n Roll magazine.  

I did an interview in SF for Maximum RnR Radio with Pushead and Tim Yohannan (the man behind Maximum Rock n Roll). 

Tim had a great vision of music. 

When he died underground music lost a great contributor.  

Photo on the right-is me preparing for a photo shoot. 

A little booze always made me feel a little more comfortable ... or maybe it was just my excuse to get drunk.


One of the few promotional photos that Phantasm ever did.  

Phantasm was a band that I did in-between HIRAX with a very close friend of mine on bass, Ron McGoveny.  Short lived band, but we had a lot of fun.  We did a six song demo and broke up just before we got signed.  The original drummer for Phantasm was Johnny Tabares... a little bit of trivia.  On the right is the artwork for the Phantam's six song demo.  Cover done by Rot Flesh from Germany.  The line up in the Phantasm photo is:  (left to right)  Nathan Williams-16 yrs old (guitars), Katon W DePena-23 yrs old (vocals), Rodney Nickelson-18 yrs old (guitars), Jim Korthy-17 yrs old (drums), Ron McGoveny-23 yrs old (bass).  Ron and I had previous experience in our other bands.  Between the age differences, experience and excessive alcohol consumption egos clashed.  The bigger the band got the more we didn't get along.  It was like a Molotov Cocktail just waiting to explode.