|High octane Power based metallers HELSTAR, created in Houston during 1982, came to the fore on the underground tape trading scene with their debut 1983 demo. The band's original line up comprised of ex-DEATHWISH and SCORCHER vocalist James Rivera, guitarists Larry Barragan and Robert Trevin, bassist Jerry Abarca and drummer Rene Lima.
The impact made by the demo soon landed HELSTAR a deal with Combat Records in 1984 and the resulting debut album, 'Burning Star', was produced by drummer Carl Canedy of THE RODS. Ructions hit the band soon afterwards though and Trevin and Lima opted out to make way for guitarist Andre Corbin and drummer Frank Ferriera, whilst Barragan quit after a row with both the band's management and his colleagues. He intended forming a new band, BETRAYER, but was to quickly rejoin HELSTAR.
Following 'Remnants Of War' HELSTAR split from Combat and re-locating to Los Angeles signed a fresh deal with Metal Blade Records. 'A Distant Thunder' captured worthy reviews and HELSTAR proceeded to tour both America and then Europe opening for TANKARD and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. Upon their return the band migrated back to their native Houston. The 'Distant Thunder' album sees HELSTAR covering the SCORPIONS classic 'He's A Woman, She's A Man'.
A line up change saw HELSTAR split asunder with only Rivera and Barragan remaining. Fresh blood was soon drafted in in the form of guitarist Tom Rogers, bassist Paul Medina and drummer Hector Pavan.
Following the 'Nosferatu' release HELSTAR cut a further demo tape consisting of 'Social Circles', 'Scalpel In The Skin', 'Sirens Of The Sun' and 'Change with seasons'. The recording line up being Rivera, Abaraca, Barragan and drummer Russel Deleon. Soon after Barragan withdrew from the metal scene totally finding a new calling with a Tex-Mex bar band. HELSTAR struggled on playing gigs on the local circuit but under a new title of VIGILANTE.
As VIGILANTE the band members began negotiation with MEGADETH bassist Dave Eleffson with the intention of recording a four track demo. Although the deal with Ellefson fell through VIGILANTE recorded and released one six-song EP. However, circumstances forced their hand as, with the return of Abaraca and under pressure the band reverted back to their HELSTAR moniker. Also forcing the pace was MEGADETH's dumping from the support slot they had at the time with rock giants AEROSMITH. MEGADETH opted out of the tour at a Houston date when main man Dave Mustaine was unable to continue and Eleffson found himself with more time to work with HELSTAR, the planned demo then evolving into the 'Multiples Of Black' album.
By 1998 Rivera was fronting DESTINYS END for their 'Breathe Deep The Dark' album. The singer founded a new act in 2000 titled PROJECT RIVERA which comprised of Z-LOT-Z guitarist Eric Halpern, MYSTIC CROSS guitarist Don LaFon, OUTWORLD bassist Brent Marches, VICTIM keyboard player Adam Rawlings and drummer Rick Ward from MIDNIGHT CIRCUS.
In May of 2000 Metal Blade released a live HELSTAR album which was widely panned as being an inferior quality bootleg from a Christmas show many years prior. The HELSTAR legacy was not ready to die as in 2001 the Iron Glory label issued a compilation of material under the HELSTAR name called 'The James Rivera Legacy'. The first four tracks on the compilation were the unreleased post-Nosferatu demo and the last six cuts were the rare VIGILANTE EP.
It would be reported in August of 2001 that Rivera had joined FLOTSAM AND JETSAM after their longstanding vocalist Eric A.K. departed. Rivera would then team up with SEVEN WITCHES, debuting with the band at their July appearance at the 'Classic Metal Fest II' in Cleveland, Ohio.
An all new act with strong HELSTAR ties was announced in August of 2003 as James Rivera and DESTINY'S END guitarist Eric Halpern united with SYMPHONY X bassist Mike Lepond in DISTANT THUNDER. The resulting 2004 album 'Welcome The End' would include a cover of HELSTAR's 'Finding My Way'. DISTANT THUNDER undertook an extensive round of European headline shows in December although by the time the shows were booked they were all under the HELSTAR branding once again. Meanwhile, a triumvirate of erstwhile HELSTAR personnel in guitarists Larry Barrigan and Rob Trevino alongside drummer Russell Deleon founded ETERNITY BLACK. A five song demo, recorded at Spyder Studios with producer Gregg Gill, emerged in early 2005.
In mid 2005 it was learned that James Rivera was contributing to the DAWNRIDER project assembled by MAJESTY mentor Tarek "Metal Son" Maghary. The singer joined VICIOUS RUMORS in September.