Customer Reviews: Meantime
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on August 21, 2002
This is a massively influential recording, especially when viewed alongside the contemporary 'nu-metal'/'rap-rock' scene. It is also one of the harshest, most tightly written and performed albums I have ever heard.
Helmet produced music that truly was an assault on the senses, from the searing guitar lines to the quirky stop-start dynamics on numerous songs, coupled with the jazz-influenced time signatures and extremely raw vocals. This is not an album for the faint hearted, yet it is similarly not a release that panders to the stereotypically moronic metal fan (a label which I will be the first to point out is entirely inaccurate); Helmet are unquestionably purveyors of intelligent, thoughtful sentiment shrouded in some of the highest quality songwriting I have ever heard the genre produce.
On the opener, 'In the Meantime', Helmet set the scene for the ten superb tracks in typically cataclysmic fashion, with 30 seconds of churning noise giving way to a hypnotic, persistent drumbeat closely chased by layered guitars cranking out one of the heaviest, most recognisable riffs in metal, then pulling back to hammer one chord in truly eloquent, unforgettable fashion. These 3 minutes of 'In the meantime' may define Helmet, yet this album showcases a band truly comfortable with their own niche, their own raison d'etre, perfectly.
Many of the albums songs sound similar: indeed, I often think this record runs like one extended suite. Yet upon repeated listens each track follows the other so precisely, and the album's themes are so cogent even when wrapped in the bizzare anecdotes of the lyrics, that the status of this recording as a masterwork is apparent.
Buy this album if you enjoy intelligent music, or even if you merely like to bang your head profusely whenever you can, or both: this album caters easily to each faction. Consider carefully the irony behind the line, 'Walk through no archetypal suicide: to die young is far too boring these days', when contrasted to the grunge explosion taking place on America's opposite coast when Helmet recorded this release.
An ambitious, original record, and a musical unit whose impact should not, indeed cannot, be ignored.
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on July 12, 2006
Strange....I keep reading all of these references to Helmet being the originators of nu-metal yet, when this album was released, the concept of nu-metal had not yet even begun to brew inside the mind of some soulless marketing executive, itching to brandish a newer and more simplistic sound to attract the masses with a short attention span. One can certainly make a path from Helmet to the spawn of nu-metal that followed a few years later if they felt so inclined but if you dig a little deeper, nu-metal only shares the most basic traits with this band that offered so much more to anyone who cared to listen.

In some ways, it almost seems strange to slap the "metal" tag on a band like Helmet. Sure, they wrote this album that is bludgeoningly heavy with songs that would blow your head clean off your body from the outset but beyond that, Helmet shared little with the dyed-in-the-wool metal bands from the early 1990's.

I suppose that this is where the whole nu-metal tag comes in, due to the nu-metal kingpins to follow utilizing the stop-start riffing that Helmet mastered out of the gate. However, those comparisons end when you get into these songs.

Unlike Korn and Deftones that followed, Helmet combined that riffing style with head-snapping time changes, absolutely monster grooves and a strange combination of vast musical influence filtered through a seemingly minimalist approach, all of this done with no use of samples, rapping or tortured soul gimmicks. Helmet was strictly about the music.

Maybe this is why their flirtation with the mainstream didn't last. They had nothing by way of gimmicks to offer the growing number of angst-filled teens that were a year or so away from the transition from grungy teen to Johnathan Davis impersonator. For those (and there are many of them) always on the hunt for the next fad to grasp onto for lack of true identity, Helmet provided those of us looking for music with substance an album that still could blow us away almost 15 years after it appeared on store shelves. "Meantime" is precisely that album.
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on June 28, 2001
Led by classically trained jazz guitarist, Page Hamilton, Helmet unleashes its unique brand of melodic punishment on their major label debut. Recorded by the anti-Rick Rubin, Steve Albini, Meantime is from start to finish a total aural assault with driving chords and drumbeats that undoubtedly influenced the new wave of rap-rocking bands that deal in heavy snares (Korn, Limp Bizkit) and downtuned guitars.
Back before grunge when MTV actually looked for new talent to play, Helmet had a minor hit with "unsung" which made the rounds frequently on Alternative Nation and other such shows. But, thier image and clothes didn't make them cool, it was thier unbridled aggression and melodicism in addition to a great no holds barred live show, opening for bands like Faith No More before headlining and touring with the Rollins Band.
If you like rap-rock you owe it to yourself to check out Helmet and explore one of the fore-runners of Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Tool.
Another great band that should have been huge.
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on May 1, 2003
When this record came out I was a 11-12 year old metal head. I listend mainly to thrash/heavy metal bands like slayer, megadeth, metallica etc. One day I saw a video by a band called Helmet on tv and was amazed by the chrushing, monotonous, sound they made (especially because the guys in the band looked wierd...wierd meaning normal, average, looking people with crewcuts).
I bought the CD and was actually kind of disappointed by the way it sounded. I remember that I thought that Page's song was too melodic and weak.
But after I played it a couple of times I grew to like it, and later it. Basically, Helmet changed my whole view of (heavy) music and indirectly because of them i later got into everything from hardcore punk to jazz.
To this day I still listen to it and regard it as one of my favourite albums of all times (and music genres). Sadly, people who comment on this brilliant band generally have the tendency of comparing them to other metal (especially [bad] nu-metal or "rap-metal") bands which i think is out of line. Helmet were trailblazers and they truly stand alone.
Maybe if you just listen to the witty & sarcastic lyrics, the monotonous trainlike precision of the heavy, yet minimalistic, drum beat & the guitars swarming like angry bees you too will figure that out one day.
Meantime captures Helmet in their prime, do yourself a favor and check it out!
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on April 30, 2003
First of all contrary to what one reviewer said Helmet were not just rich kids who started a band one day. Guitarist/singer Page Hamilton was trained in jazz and played with Glenn Branca's Guitar Symphony and the Band of Susans. Bassist Henry Bogden is a classicaly trained bassist who also plays guitar, drums and lap steel. Drummer John Stainer is a veteren of the Florida death metal scene so obiviously he knows his way around the kit. Just because the songs are simple doesn't mean that they know nothing about their instruments. If you are going to give the history of the band at least do your homework.
Back to the music Helmet is a band that doesn't try to dazzle you with thier technical abilities but that doesn't mean they are non-existant. The repetition in some of their riffs are built to create tension and not because they have no idea of what
to do. They songs finally break open usually thanks to the solo which are meant not to utilize every note on the fretboard million notes some Helmet solos only contain about four notes, but they are more about the sounds he can make out of those four notes.
This is a very influential album. Many of the bands out there today would not be anywhere if not for thier copy of Meantime.
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on March 5, 1999
Without a doubt, Meantime was a monumental CD that changed the way people think of heavy music. A full out assault on the listener, Meantime uses dropped-D tuning to perfection. Their tight, quick riff patterns in different time signatures have been used by a multitde of 90's metal bands (see Deftones, Pantera, Limp Bizkit, etc.) Every song on this album is amazing. It is one of the few CD's I can listen to constantly. Unfortunately, Helmet never received their due praise from the mainstream, mostly because people couldn't label them. It's not metal, it's not hardcore, it's not alternative. It is a captivating album that will stick with you forever.
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on March 17, 2004
Hands down one of the tightest, most precise rock albums ever to be released. Some complain that all the songs run together with little variation. While it's true that variation isn't exactly one of this album's strongpoints, come on. It f__kin' rocks. Seething anger just waiting to bust out and crush skulls is the name of the game here. I listened to this about fifty times the first week I got it. I even skipped school just so I could listen to it all day. This is mainstream rock before it tucked it's manhood between it's legs and became matchbox 20 and third eye blind (pu__ies). My favorite tracks are ironhead, give it, he feels bad, FBLA II, and role model. The other half is also incredible, but these five tracks are beyond words. A jaded twenty-five year old picking up this album for the first time now might not be impressed, but as an eighth grader, my world was changed when i picked this up 12 years ago.
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on October 17, 2002
Helmet caught everyone's attention with their monster song "Unsung" in 92. I saw the video on MTV's Headbanger's Ball and used to sit in rapt attention every week hoping that Rickie would play it. Just so I could hear that wall of guitar sound...the beautiful reverberation of the snare head and the pounding of the kick drum....ah. That was heaven. I purchased the album and immediately liked some of the songs, especially "In the Meantime". While this disc was a trendsetter, some of it just sounds blah and repetitive. Most of the other tracks do not standout or contain anything terribly interesting. That said, Helmet knew how to rock. They had a tight sound that was delivered no-holds-barred. I appreciate their enthusiasm and delivery, however, at this point in their career they had yet to become GREAT songwriters with the exception of the above mentioned tracks. So if you see this disc lying around and have not heard it give it a try, maybe it will be your thing. You are sure to like at least some of the tunes a lot.
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on May 30, 2000
The best album I've heard in 10 years. For some reason, I don't get tired of listening to it. This is not the ear candy that you hear from the "hardcore" bands on the radio. The more effort you put into listening to this record, the more you get out of it. One thing that makes this cd and the band unique is that they think about how to end a song. Where most bands fade into endings, Helmet uses the last 20 seconds to build intensity to extremely satifying closeouts. This is just one of about 1000 nuances that make Helmet a cut above.
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on August 13, 2004
The band that started it all, based out of NYC, of course.
Often imitated (I believe Pantera admitted that "Walk" was influenced by Helmet's "Unsung"), poorly duplicated.

As hardcore & heavy as it gets with fantastic riffs & without sounding amateurish. Supa-dupa tight, D-tuned guitars, phenomenal drumming.

Listen to the opening assault of "He Feels Bad". does it get any better? Puh-leez!

As a reviewer once stated, Helmet makes Metallica sound like The Archies. Believe it.
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