"Size Matters" (Interscope; 2004)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Page Hamilton has embarked on a comeback with "Size Matters" but, like Dave Mustaine, he keeps the band name yet changes the entire lineup save for himself. 

Armed here with Frank Bello (Anthrax), John Tempesta (White Zombie), and Chris Traynor (Orange 9MM), the '04 Helmet lineup reads like the New York Metal All-Star team, yet gone are the pummeling offerings of days gone by. Instead, Helmet opts to take away the hammer and replace it with a chisel, fine tuning many of the album's tracks with the greatest of care. 

Tracks like "See You Dead," while still retaining the unabashed heavy-handed punch you'd expect, is ultimately overshadowed by the most melody the band has displayed to date. And, while you'd normally expect the fillings in your head to rattle after a few tracks, it's not the rhythms that are jagged anymore. Instead, it's the lyrics: the roaring disdain, utter disgust, and discontented dissonance that made Hamilton's guitar roar and the band's rhythm section sonically challenge any room they played in are found in songs like "Enemies," "Speak and Spell," and "Smart." Showcasing a darker, damning, and altogether more sinister side to Hamilton's brain, these words attack with the impact of past albums' bass and drum explosions, while the sinewy alt metal jazz grooves laid down beside it all keep it both heavy and smart throughout the entire 11-track experience. 

Is it the Helmet of old? No way. But it is a band full of vitriol, primed to reclaim its pole position in the metal genre.

For more information, check out http://www.helmetmusic.com

"Unsung: The Best of Helmet 1991 - 1997" (Interscope)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Take a listen to today's rock radio and the truth is evident: Helmet, the seminal NYC noise metal groove clan, and its simple, stark, crushing riffs, have influenced a generation of musicians from Korn to any current aggro rock darling. "Unsung" is the 21-track testament to the always one step ahead of the times Page Hamilton and crew's importance on the hard rock landscape. And no band has even come close to the brutal beauty of songs like "Unsung" and "In The Meantime."

While much of the sound which Helmet pioneered changed through the years, it was always jagged and revolutionary. Culminating in four album's worth of material and countless too little, too late praises and adorations, Helmet's six-year career-span spearheaded the movement when the lines between metal and the rest of the music world began to blur. For a quick lesson, or to refresh your memory, this greatest hits package suits both purposes extremely well.

For more information, check out http://www.helmetmusic.com

"Meantime" (Interscope)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

As grunge was exploding in the early '90s a little outfit from New York City was providing the perfect antidote to Seattle's whiners. Helmet featured a disciplined approach to a fundamentally hardcore foundation that gave the music scene an instant buzz of something new and fresh.  This 1992 release is clearly one of the best discs of the '90s.

Helmet's songs are concise and free of ornamental flourishes. Helmet found a niche by making stripped down hard rock that took an arty approach to arrangements where taut rhythms and sparse guitar figures led the way for riffs to be the focal point of the songs. Sparse, unconventional lead guitar lines provided brief yet explosive breaks that split perceived notions of heaviness into two.

The unforgettable "In The Meantime" left its indelible mark on me before the song was over the first time I heard it. "Unsung" and its hooks, the very sound "Turned Out", the terse "Better", and the catchy "You Borrowed" are also great tunes that deserved to be heard over and over again. There isn't one weak track of the ten songs that make the impressionable mark that "Meantime" left on the musical landscape.

Although Page Hamilton can hardly be considered a great vocalist his style fit the Helmet sound perfectly. 

Helmet's lineup for "Meantime" was Page Hamilton on vocals and guitar, Henry Bogdan on bass, John Stanier on drums, and Peter Mengede on guitar. Page Hamilton's experience in the avant garde Band Of Susans taught him many valuable lessons for Helmet. John Stanier's stints in the Florida death metal scene added a heavy attack to the rhythm section. Henry Bogdan had learned to flex his bass chops in Crawlpappy. Peter Mengede soon left the band after "In The Meantime" to record with Handsome.

Helmet produced their own bad selves on "Meantime"; recording assistance was provided by Wharton Tiers (Quicksand) and mixing assistance by the legendary Andy Wallace (Nirvana).  Helmet disbanded in 1998; but their music lives on.

For more information, check out http://www.helmetmusic.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2022 15:17:12 -0400.