Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
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.