Helmet – “Dead To The World” (earMUSIC)
Without a shadow of a doubt one of the most influential ‘alt’ bands of the 90s, Helmet may not have looked like typical rockers but they went on to sell over 2 million units worldwide with their sophomore album ‘Meantime’ in 1994, calling it quits in 1998 but not before influencing an entire generation. Reactivated by founder aggro guitarist / vocalist Page Hamilton in 2004, Helmet have released several albums despite numerous line up changes. “Dead To The World” is the band’s 8th release and I have to say, as a fan of the band’s early material, it is mightily impressive – in fact, taking me right back to the early 90s along with a whole load of memories! Still with their trademark sound of heavy, chopping riffs with drop D tuning, pounding drums, hoarse vocals and erratic time signatures, Helmet’s music remains as dark and aggressive as it was – even with the presence of melancholic grunge harmonies – especially when Hamilton’s guitar runs off the rails into moments of feedback drenched noise. It’s written all over tracks like ‘Red Scare’, ‘I ♥ My Guru’ and ‘Die Alone’ – not to mention a very cool cover of Elvis Costello’s ‘Green Shirt’ – that take in the diverse influences of grunge rock, alternative, metal and punk, along with socio political disillusionment to produce material that is still as fresh and captivating as it was when Hamilton first brought it onto the New York scene. Some 6 years in the making, “Dead To The World” proves that Helmet are anything but that and moreover, continue to remain the ‘thinking person’s heavy metal band’.