Hel-met, hel-met for LEATH-AH!!!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Strap It On
*Born Annoying
*Size Matters
*Seeing Eye Dog

Helmet was formed by Page Hamilton (former member of guitar-drone-heavy Band of Susans and I think he played with Glenn Branca's guitar orchestra at some point) to focus on DISCIPLINED HEAVINESS. For their first few years, they concentrated on alternating extremely monolithic, distorted, mean-spirited low-end-of-guitar (high-end-of-guitar-neck) riffs with blank space -- topped with a guy yelling. Interscope Records thought they were gonna be huge and paid them eleventy bafillion dollars to join their shittyass label, at which point the band had a minor MTV hit and then went through several personnel and stylistic changes that continue to this very day.

* Strap It On - Amphetamine Reptile 1990. *
Rating = 10

Grungy, filthy, angry, muddy, tight, sludgy and heavy as a blimp filled with cement! Helmet's debut LP was an astonishing addition to AmRep's stable of "noise" bands (also featuring Cows, Tar, Helios Creed, Thrown Ups and many many more), filled to the blimp (filled with cement) with aggressive detuned low-end chord/space/chord/space riffs, gruff shouted "guy who smokes for a living" vocals and a flavorful topping of slippery, queasy nearly out-of-tune Branca-esque guitar drone racket.

The chord sequences themselves are cool enough, featuring tons of heavy repetition and the occasional confusing time signature (especially in the par excellence "Distracted"), but it's the production that drives the whole thing over the border into "What the hell IS THIS???"ville, Kentucky. Two distorted guitars and a bass disciplinedly play the EXACT SAME THING for the entirety of every song on the record. And they're reverbed and bassed out all to hell, presenting the sickening impression that there's no band at all, but just a drummer and a guy screaming and playing guitar through an amp filled with industrial waste. And it's beauty-ful! They had sound unlike any other AmRep band, regardless of many a critic's complaint that every AmRep band sounded the same. One band that it was slightly reminiscent of in a very slight way was Bleach-era Nirvana - DON'T YELL AT ME - I'm not saying that Helmet and Nirvana were actually alike at all; just that the phlegmy shouting and fucked up sick guitar tones of the two albums are similar. Which may be way the dumbasses at Interscope signed Helmet for 58 jillion dollars and planted stories in the press that they were going to be "the next Nirvana." But alas, they didn't even turn out to be the next whatever the hell Krist Novoselic's next band was called.

Reader Comments

9 marks- I saw Helmet for the first time during the many shows they played in Chicago. Holy Crap. This was the first time I understood sound as force, that could actually pin/freeze you in place. LSD + guitar solo from Bad Mood = lighning bolts of force shooting out of the stereo into my chest. No lie.

prehaps you're overrating this one because everything that sounds "underground" gets more credit from you (thinking of the almost ridicilously exaggerated compliments to Melvins' Gluey Porch Treatments). It's the noisiest Helmet record but maybe it was a coinsidence, on the other hand maybe that doesn't really matter...if it was the concept or not..or if it did have any concept...does everything artistic material have the concept ? It's hard to distinguish riffs from this album as well as Meantime, isn't it ?

Well let's start talking about this album instead of comparing to the other. Stap It On is a fairly innovative album with attitude. Extra credit for the brilliant "Bad Mood". No compromise, it's basically the same thing through the whole album, introducing Helmet- the heaviest band that isn't really metal. (?). 8 out of 10.

Very Loud + Very Raw

Devour Very Rarely 10/10

There's more than a "nonexistant" resemblance between "Bad mood" and "Scoff" from Bleach.

Do you have to put inverted quotes in this "paraphrase" thingy?

I’d probably give this one a 9 – it’s definitely an awesome album and a better album than Meantime. The band do play the exact thing over and over again on this album – I won’t bother to describe it in full but the guitars are noisy, the drums are loud, the vocals are angry and the lyrics are nonspecific and pissed off. Apparently this is “thinking man’s metal”. Meantime follows the same pattern but this one wins out – I honestly can’t say why I prefer it, I just do. Maybe because its shorter.

cause I never wrote an actual comment for Strap It On and only gave Born Annoying an 8 on my Aftertaste comment when it was really a 9, here's my Strap It On comment as I'm listening to it right now.

Track #1 - opening riff rules hard, song features the lyrics "pass offers great sex" which never happens to me so I cant relate, but I love it anyway.

Track #2 - the way Page screamed the line "RUUUUUDE!" one last time a little lower in the mix startled the crap out of me the first time i heard it.

Track #3 - short with catchy chorus.

Track #4 - Sinatra is the "classic" Strap It On song they still play today. Later covered by Deftones, who are way better than the five million "Nu Metal" bands they're classified with.

Track #5 - Later followed by "FBLA II" on Meantime. I still dont know what FBLA stands for. Fucked By Lame Assholes?

Track #6 - "Blacktop" which the Size Matters-era Helmet song "Crashing Foreign Cars" actually sounds like a sequel to. Musically anyway.

Track #7 - good enough to still make the album a 10.

Track #8 - same as above.

Track #9 - nice scraping noises at the end. Neat.

I still think it's the best barely 30 minute album this side of Reign in Blood. Though Unsane probably deserve the same level of recognition, this is an AmRep high point as well. 10/10

Add your thoughts?

Meantime - Interscope 1992.
Rating = 8

Same basic style, with the caveat that the mix sounds much more major label and more like a normal modern metal band as opposed to the oddbird craggendiddlydoo of Strap It On Dildo. Mr. Hamilton also sings more than he yells, with a bitter voice that sounds like it's no fun to be around. The heavy record starts awesome - these guys do great stuff with the same four chords over and over! - but gets slightly less interesting during the second half. Plus, almost every song has the same exact headbanging city-dwelling atmosphere. It will take you forever to distinguish one song from the other.

On another note, let me toss an anecdote in your direction: I saw Helmet live right after Strap It On came out, and they were so heavy and brutal that I felt like a load of heavenly bricks was being dropped onto my head by a divine angel of Mercyful Fate. They were so heavy, in fact, that my friend Christian's injured arm (he had accidentally sliced his wrist open during a hilarious live set by my old band Low-Maintenance Perennials) exploded all over the floor and he had to replace it with a Swiffer. Then a year later when I was in college with long hair that was shaved on the sides, pretending not to care what everybody thought of me while going out of my way to ensure that I was the center of attention at every waking moment, I saw Helmet live again right before Meantime came out and their new songs (complete with endless, nameless guitar solos!) bored the living daylights out of my ass. Along with a poop, which slithered down the back of my pantleg before lodging in my sock, where it resides to this day. COINCIDENCE?????

Reader Comments

10 marks - Preceded by the Albini-engineered wax 7" featuring a version of In the Meantime that killed. Killed. Slabs of vibrant shards - natural evolution from S.I.O. Unfortunately they went with slickness of the Wallace mix, really polishing everything up. Shit, he could polish a the sound of a lawn mower eating gravel and it would sound good. At any rate, once I saw them live again, it all made sense. Hugeness. Still, the riffs are starting to stale just a small bit.

uglytruth@hotmail.com (Hossein Nayebagha)
To my ears, this sounds as basically the same deal as Stap It On but done better. The sound production is of course a lot better, sometimes you prefer the stuff noisy but with Helmet you need the rythm guitars to be really really distinctive because they're suposed to sound what they are- precise.This also makes the bass a lot heavier. Another thing is that on some tracks Page Hamilton is not really screaming which is good as variation... the man is not the most incredible vocalist ever but he doesn't really need to be...not in this band. I won't give it a full one though because the album seems to get a bit poorer at the end... 9 out of 10.

I saw the new Helmet play the entirety of this album (in reverse!) last month. It was good! I’ve never been to a show with so few females, which is honestly the only reason I do anything. But still, good! Much like Strap it On, every song sounds the same except the near-pop hit “Unsung” and “In the Meantime” which rocks EVEN MORE than the other songs. “City dwelling” is a good description, all the music sounds squashed together and oppressive. As I said before I dunno why this one doesn’t sound as good to my ears as Strap it On – its not like they’re different or anything. Probably because the debut has a rude sounding title.

Anyway, at the show, Page Hamilton gave away his beers and pulled a guy with wheelchair onto the stage, then afterwards hung around and talked to everyone, signing things. And I mean he actually *talked* to everyone – to some lady about her shopping list he was signing, to another guy about trying to find Bon Scott’s grave and to me about when I used to play Bitches Brew, Strap it On and Tago Mago loudly in school and how other students didn’t get it because I was way cooler and more alternative than them. I also grew my hair really long until my girlfriend at the time told me I looked feminine and wasn’t sexually attracted to me. At the time I was pissed off but she was really right, I looked like a greasy rapist. Luckily I stuck to the first part of this story with Page. He was a really cool guy, told me he saw Miles Davis’ Live-Evil concert in the flesh.

The new band were fine, too. But I don’t suppose it would be particularly challenging to get a Helmet song right!

since nothing can be said about this album that hasnt been said before, id like to take this time to retract my statement about Queens of the Stone Age from my Size Matters comment four years ago. I since have heard Lullabies, Songs for the Deaf and Rated R in their entirety and think they/he are quite a good band after all. Still not Kyuss, but what is. It's something else entirely that's good.

9/10 for Meantime. "In the Meantime" was the song that started me on Helmet, and the other nine are good to great too. I still like Strap it On a little more, but really you cant go wrong with any Helmet from this period.

No matter how many times I listen to Meantime, it never has sounded dated. It's so good it's somewhat free of context; you get the impression Page Hamilton would have always written music like this, no matter what decade. When you DO listen to it within the early 90's context, it's still impressive -- I mean, what other band sounded like this in fucking 1992? Maybe Helmet helped inspire tons of bands we'd rather forget (unfortunately I think they have a lot to do with what grew into Nu-Metal), but no one did punishingly heavy, simple, caveman-esque, dissonantly lovely music like they did. I totally get why Mark digs "Strap It On" more than this one (ugly as hell! brutal production! ahhhh!!!) and while Meantime is more commercial, it also does a great job of being more accessible without sacrificing what made them so great from the start. Favorites? "In the Meantime" is pulverizing and catchy as shit; "Ironhead" sounds like a fight between two lumberjacks; "Turned Out"--the best song--is fucking amazing despite the riffs and 'singing' being awesomely grotesque; and the solo in "You Borrowed" is proof that Page Hamilton is a master of atonally great solos (they always sound like a robot going crazy on meth or something). To go against the grain here, I think "Unsung" is the weakest track, but even that is pretty good.

Also want to agree with another comment about how nice Page Hamilton is. I saw Helmet a few years ago open for Burning Brides (who I somewhat recommend if you like...Urge Overkill maybe?) and by the time Helmet was finishing (around 2AM at Double Door - yes the same place where the end of "High Fidelity" takes place!), I kept thinking to myself if I should ever see them again. Why? Even though they were RULING live, I was near the front, banging my head all night, getting my 140 lb frame beat around by big Helmet fans, and feeling even more worn than the time I waited 3 hours to see the Alice in Chains reunion show (and then couldn't listen to them again for 2 years--the douchebag, primadonna pricks). So there I am, it's 2AM, covered in sweat, bruises and the show is ending. Page is directly in front of me giving everyone high-fives from the stage and then -- in a moment I'll never forget -- he looks directly at me and says "Hey thanks man for coming out and toughing it out up front with all the big guys. It really means a lot." and then he wraps his arms around me and gives me the best, sincerest hug ever. And trust me, I've hugged many girls with breasts before. So in conclusion, I'm heterosexual, Helmet rocks, Meantime is a 10, and Page Hamilton gives great hugs.

Add your thoughts?

Born Annoying - Amphetamine Reptile 1995
Rating = 9

It's impossible to say anything negative about early Helmet. They were just too good. Gods of dissonance, halos of noise, visionaries of stereo separation, and those hot guitar chord hooks! Have you seen them? If not, then get your eyes out of your ass, asseye!

But before we get to that, I finally got around to reading Lost In The Grooves over the weekend. Remember that guy? Big little book with a bunch of amateur rock critics writing about their favorite "wrongly ignored" albums? I reviewed Buckner & Garcia's Pac-Man Fever for it, and ehh... Well, between you and me, it's not my finest piece of writing. But beyond that, reading the book rekindled my HATE HATE HATRED for three things that amateur music critics do:

1) Briefly describe every single fucking song on an album I've never heard (ex. "Bill's Big Butt" has a great country feel with autoharp, then "Hey, My Fish!" goes for more of a country-meets-Motown feel, then "Eat A Dick" brings in elements of Beatle-esque pop.... WHO FUCKING CARES!??!! WRITE SOMETHING INTERESTING!!!!)

2) Bash other, more successful rock critics (I may have done this in the past, but NO MORE! I ain't no joob!)

3) Use the word "natch." Does ANYBODY actually use the word "natch" in real life? NO! Amateur rock critics use it because they see other amateur rock critics use it, just as they say So-And-So song alone is "worth the price of admission" (another thing NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would say about an album in real life).

I think my point is that I hate fucking music reviews, including my own. Now let's talk about Helmet's Born Annoying!

Amphetamine Reptile is the greatest record label of all time. Look at all the noisy wonderful joy they've brought into our lives - Cows, Tar, Lubricated Goat, King Snake Roost, Helios Creed, God Bullies, Halo Of Flies, Vertigo, Hammerhead - even their later bands like Guzzard, Chokebore and Today Is The Day on into the final days of Servotron, lowercase and Nashville Pussy all kicked SO MUCH TONS OF MANY ASSES!!! Come on now - Melvins anyone? Janitor Joe? The Australian X? Surgery? I LOVE these bands! I've even grown to love Supernova and the Cosmic Psychos! And don't even get me STARTED on Lollipop because I'll never shut up. I hope I'm not coming across as facetious because I seriously don't think I've EVER heard an Amphetamine Reptile band that I didn't like. I admit the Crows CD wears a little thin after a while, but even that one has some killer sick tunes! Then there's Mog Stunt Team (whee!), Calvin Krime (yeah!), Boss Hog (whoo-whoo!), Feedtime (ROAR!), the Freedom Fighters (BAM!), Love 666 (droooooooone), Gaunt (hotcha!) - and who doesn't love Adam Parfrey and Jim Goad's "SWAT" project? Or the Screwed soundtrack? Or that awesome Urinals compilation? Or the uproarious Mudhoney side project The Thrown-Ups? I haven't heard the album Unsane put out on AmRep, but I bet even THAT one is good!

All of which brings us to one hell of a great goddamned AmRep compilation of Helmet singles, covers and unreleased tracks. This band - granted they grew tiresome and blow dogwang now, but my Good God did this band use to rule some serious noisy pre-Nevermind grunge noise butt, montana. These ten tracks follow Helmet's first and best line-up through their early progression from brilliantly bizarre squiggly fucked-up guitar swooping merged with hypnotic Branca-esque open-chord dissonance (title track, "Rumble") through the astonishingly incredible yet UNRELEASED (!!!!) Fugazi/Killing Joke hybrid "Geisha To Go," onto the Meantime days of strong assertive heavy rockers (I have ALWAYS found the "In The Meantime" b-side "Your Head" to be far superior to the a-side, and in fact more exciting than most of that album - how on Earth did they leave it off!? Thank Goodness for compilations!) and into a couple of faithful Killing Joke and Melvins covers and doo-dah-dee whee whoo. If you like noise, energy, intellijence, hard rock, fuzz, guitar noise orchestras and a tough-sounding white guy on vocals, Born Annoying will earache your eye. Hey! Get out of my room!

Ha! Just a little Cheech & Chong humor for you there. (Knocking) Who is it? It's me Mark Prindle, open up, I got the stuff. (Long Pause.Knocking.) Who is it? It's me Mark Prindle, man, open up I got the stuff. Who?? It's Mark Prindle, man, open up, I think the cops saw me come in here. (Pause.Knocking.) Who is it? (Getting A Little Mad) It's, it's Mark Prindle, man, will you open up I got the stuff with me. Who?! Mark Prindle!! Man, open up! Mark Prindle?? Yeah, Mark Prindle! Come on man open up! I think the cops saw me- Mark Prindle's Not Here!! (Frantically Knocking.) Open Up The Door It's Mark Prindle!!! WHO?! Mark Prindle!! M-A-R-K-P-R-I-N-D-L-E!!!!! WILL YOU OPEN UP THE GODDAMNED DOOR!!! Mark Prindle?? YEAH Mark Prindle!! Mark Prindle??!! Right man, Mark Prindle. Now will you open up the door?? (Pause) MARK PRINDLE'S NOT HERE!!

But on a serious note, I urge you to listen closely to the beginning of the guitar solo in "Born Annoying (1993)," the updated re-recording of "Born Annoying" from 1997: he's quoting Angus Young's solo from "Baby Please Don't Go"!!!! Helmet? More like "HelSHIT," if you - no hang on that's negative

More like "HelYEAH!," if you ask me!!! And what's really awesome is that "Born Annoying" is country-tinged, and "No Nellie No" is jazz-flavored and "Your Head" has a great bluesy guitar solo and - say, am I crazy or is Robert Christgau a snivelling hairball who sticks his dick in his eyeglasses? Augh! My entire forearm is stuck inside your wife's NATCH!

See why I fucking hate music reviews? I fucking hate the SHIT out of them!

Reader Comments

This is a great album. Loud as hell and doesn’t “reveal” itself until repeated listens. I didn’t like it at first because I started with Meantime. I was like, “what the hell is this noisy shit.” Love it now though.

Add your thoughts?

Betty - Interscope 1994.
Rating = 8

The colorful Helmet album! This is the one where they branched out, tried more light-hearted approaches to heavy music, and got reamed both critically and commercially in the process! For shame too, because aside from a few bland generiHelmetunes (okay that didn't work), the album is as entertaining as a stacked hooker with a plate full of cocaine must be to Glenn Frey. There's some slide guitar blues, some jazz guitar noodlings, some funkyass groove metal, some new wave dirkxisms and lots of poppy yet heavy tunes that will have your soul a-smilin' as your head thumps your fist. And this is good! Who needs another Meantime? If you do, check out the bland pieces of shit "Street Crab" and "Clean" to understand why they felt the need to try something different. There really are, it seems, only so many things you can do with four angry chords.

Unless you're Rick James, of course, in which case you can use them to tie girls to your bed, sodomize them for hours and still earn quality crack money from sales of "Can't Touch This."

Look I know it was a stretch. I was just thinking "chords," "cords," you know. Whatever. There's a reason I don't get paid for this crap.

And that reason is that America is bonkers over Regis!!!

Reader Comments

7 marks (low 7) - Yawn. Couple of good songs, but they really didn't know what they were doing parting with the matter shattering guitar stylings of Mr.Mengede. Consequently, this sounds tired. Tired tired tired. Couple of good songs, especially the Milk(que)toast version, but the album neither shreds nor gleams.

fcaouette@telus.net (Francis Caouette)
Goddamnit i can't believe you're bashing Betty. Well, i guess i can, but it's pretty unforgivable. Seriously, this is my favorite Helmet album. " I Know" is the best goddamn song they've ever done. I don't know what it is that grabs me about this album, i guess all the extra-Helmetary stuff ("Beautiful Love, Sam Hell") keeps the standard thick-guitar-groove hardcore tunes fresh or something. I also think it's their best-produced album. Their understanding of noise used within a hardcore-rock context reached its apex here, in my opinion. It has a controlled-chaos or restrained-noise feel to it that is just awesome.


More pleasing to the pallet of your average rock fan. This one won't scare your girlfriend. The beginning of the end?

Amazingness + Blandness = Laziness Bangs Sand Men

Ask your local anagram site if you don't believe me.

This is my favourite Helmet album and also my first, when my cool photography teacher recommended the band to me. She let me play Frank Zappa and Throbbing Gristle in the class which was good, so I bought this one and NEVAR LOOKED BACK! “Wilma’s Rainbow” instantly heralds the change, because you remember how it goes, but luckily there’s a few songs that sound exactly the same as Strap it On etc. too – I hadn’t heard those albums at the time so they still sound really good to me in the context of this album. But yeah, perfect 10.

i should mention this album would be a 10 along with Strap It On, but one song, "Clean" does nothing for me. I love the weird songs on the second half, the poppier stuff, everything else... but "Clean" (not a Depeche Mode cover, though i like the DM song fine strangely enough). "Wilma's Rainbow" and "I Know" are two really rockin songs by the way. I love that drum intro on "I Know"... Stanier is a damned great drummer in case you have noticed. And you probably have from these guys albums, Tomahawk, and a bunch of other stuff. And "Wilma's Rainbow" is about a rich junk dealer named Wilma I think. Though you should never spend too much time with Helmet lyrics, cause I'm not sure even Page knows what they're about exactly.

"Milquetoast" was on the Crow soundtrack btw, which had a few good songs and some really bad ones. And I love me some "Tic" "Rollo" and "Street Crab" as well. This should have been as big or bigger than Meantime. 9/10

Listen to Unsane too by the way, in case you arent sick of me mentioning Unsane five million times on a Helmet page.

I'd like to point out that the chord progression on 'Wilma's Rainbow' is basically the same as the 'Looney Tunes' theme as legally possible ( y'know - 'Da-Do do do / Da-Do do do / Da-Doot doot doodle-oodle/ Do do do'), which is brilliant and shows a subtle sense of humor on Hamilton's part.

The Helmet reviews didn't get enough comments so i thought i'd chip in. For me, Betty is the Helmet album I listen to most. Wilma's Rainbow, I Know, and Overrated are all classic in my opinion. There's a little bit of filler but the other songs are so good it doesn't matter. I think they (he) have a new album coming out this year so hopefully that will build on Monchrome's strengths. On an unrelated note, Mark, i know you're busy with the guided by voices reviews and all, but you seriously need to review Isis.

Add your thoughts?

Aftertaste - Interscope 1997.
Rating = 7

An odd one by the nature of its very unodditude.

Betty didn't do so well in the marketplace, so they decided to go back to their original rigid sound, but they're older and less angry now, so the songs come across more like heavily-played midtempo minor-key alternative metal songs than AmRep-style noise or Meantime-style skull crushing. As such, as they themselves say in one of the songs, "It's Easy To Get Bored" if you expect it to kick your ass. The energy isn't there and the riffs are basically just more of what you'd expect from Helmet.

However, taken as a modern alternative metal record, it presents a surprising number of honestly catchy simple little chord sequences, complete with immaculate dual guitar production and a hella more vocal melodies than one would expect to appear on a Helmet record. You have to be willing to give it a chance though. Like Betty, this one takes time to grow on you. Think Foreigner's "Head Games" played with heavy bar chords and you'll start to get an idea of what the album is like. Bitter and complaint-filled, but not necessarily mosh-pittingly aggressive. And a few of the songs sound completely geared towards MTV audiences (dumbed-down singalong choruses mainly). But no way did this record deserve to die the cruel, cruel death that it did. Most people don't even know it exists!

What am I saying - most people don't even know that Helmet exists! Nor should they!!! DON'T TELL ANYBODY ABOUT THESE REVIEWS!!!!

Reader Comments

4 marks - This album sucks a donkey dick. You do too if you find favor with it. Big piece of crap. No redeeming qualities. Boring. The Handsome album was better, and that was a piece of crap. I would recommend attending the Poison/Warrent/Quiet Riot/ Enuff Z'Nuff super love fest in your town as penance.

Still, they kicked ass live every single time (over a dozen) that I saw them, even behind the retarded schlep of the final album.

John Stanier is playing with Kevin Rutmanis and Mike Patton in Duane Denison's new project, lovingly entitled "Tomahawk".

Tomahawk, y'dig?

John Stanier recently relocated to South Australia to play with Mark of Cain. John himself said it best when he said, "in Helmet we played math rock - you guys play fucking calculus rock." Check out "Incoming" (produced by Steve Albini) or the new album, "This is This" if you're interested in hearing the difference for yourself.

uglytruth@hotmail.com (Hossein Nayebagha)
Too many songs, maybe. I didn't need any time to let this grow on me, at first I thought it was definitely their best album, but eventually I started to get bored with it. But even then there were just a few unneccessary tracks too many. I still think it's pretty good stuff, and I don't know if they're really trying to be all that aggressive. There's more interesting leads and stuff - Maybe some people just think it's too polished. Me, I don't really know. As your rating tells; this is good but not great... I think my favourite part of the album is the 6-7 tracks, don't remember the title of the former one, but the other is of course "Broadcast Emotion". I just think these songs are pretty moving, the difference is that one (7) hit me instantly, I thought it was gorgeous, while the other one just kept growing to me. Yeah, I guess this is kinda like Wiseblood by C.O.C, it's a good, solid, rock album - but who really needs it ? I mean even if they had gotten rid of the fillers.

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Size Matters - Interscope 2004
Rating = 5

For the past several years, I have responded to the hookless downtuned chord pummeling and screaming of nu-metal with the succinct response, "Helmet did this already - and better." How bitter then the tears' sting must be on the cheeks of my mind's eye as a brand new Helmet release hits the streets and bounces tepidly to its clearly-desired place in line between Linkin Park and Korn. "Helmet"? More like "Cap"! Heh heh, yeah that's good stuff.

"Cap." Because their music is so light, you no longer need a helmet. A cap will do. Heh heh. Yeah, that's solid. I did myself a solid with that.

"Cap"? More like "CRAP!" Ha! Heh hehe!! HEEE! EEH!EEEEH!

The first thing to note here is that this is not a Helmet "reunion" at all. Joining the ranks of such classic piles of bullshit as Fear's Have Another Beer With Fear and the Meat Puppets' Golden Lies, Size Matters is an album by the band's former lead singer and his new band -- and, just as in the case of those two earlier masterworks, odds are good that Size Matters was rejected by the record company until Page Hamilton agreed to use the name "Helmet." Unless, of course, he presented it as a Helmet album in the first place, in which case, SHAME ON YOU, JIMMY PAGE (HAMILTON). Helmet played mean, loud, rigid, aggressive, uncompromising, intelligent uber-grunge noise; Size Matters is generic radio-ready emo-metal. Not only does Page "Alexander" Hamilton not scream anymore -- he's purposely adopted a higher, friendlier singing style so teenaged chicks (for example, women, or girls) will like him! What is he, 400 now? He's old! Young people hate old people! Haven't you seen Cocoon II: Gramps Sucks Eggs?

Most of today's hottest gnu-metal bands are MUCH heavier than this prissy Helmet-Lite, not to mention more interesting. There's no power in the 'Met anymore. Just loads of simple, boring Helmet-ripoff low chord sequences followed by big bright emotional singalong choruses. As a fan of emotional chord sequences, I actually enjoy many of the choruses as a pleasure racked with guilt, stupidity and shame. But the songs just aren't very creative. The only exceptions to my rule are the first single "See You Dead" which has a unique snuck-in extra chord in the verse and a very radio-friendly chorus , and "Surgery," (also the name of a former AmRep bandmate of Helmet, back when they were GOOD) (Helmet, that is. Surgery were never good.) which uses a great bent string effect in the heaviness as well as a static solo. And by "static," I don't mean "unchanging!" The rest of the album, however, is completely static. And by "static," I mean "if you rub your sock-clad feet all over your living room rug and then touch your finger to this CD, hopefully it will break because it's no goddamned good."

The CD, I mean. Not your finger. Your finger is in fact, REALLY goddamned good! The way it loops around my hog and just jerks up and down and up and down in perfect rhythm as I thrust and gyrate to an orgas -- No hang on, that's not your finger. What's that thing called?

Oh, that's right. "Kip Winger."

Reader Comments

vze3h6ds@verizon.net (James Parker)
superb writing. the helmet/cap joke is very sound, really gets your point across, and with humour too, which is so very important. not 'helmet'. more like 'cap'. i just can't stop telling myself this joke and wondering at it in a slightly stoned way.

michielh@nl.demon.net (Michiel Heinicke)
Couldn't agree more. Page is humping some hollywood broad nowadays, he became a total pussy and made a new HELMET (or call it CAP i like that name hahaha) record. ITS NOT HELMET!!!! The new rhytymn section is SOOO DIFFRENT, IT SUCKS. AT LEAST AFTERTASTE had the OLD LINE UP! But they're playing in Amsterdam in December, i think i will check it out, since i have never SEEN the old helmet live. And hope for a lot of HELMET songs, and not the CAP ones.

I haven't heard the album, but I remember when Metallica's black album came out. My friend Phil said that he liked it, but they just weren't Metallica anymore. Now they're just Rockandrollica. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Same as "Cap"! Get it? GET IT???

veeltedikkeman@gmail.com (Tjeerd G)
It took me some time to discover something interesting:
It may seem that Helmet has "dumbed down" to radiofriendly mainstream rock, but when you actually put up one of the songs on this album to the radio counterparts they may have, Helmet's will always win.

This album should be considered a project in itself, a masterful study of easy-listening - it is really worked out minitiously. Every single note, it seems, has been given equal attention and the production is so crisp you can tell every element apart. This stuff is tight. It always grooves, the loud parts are loud, the soft parts are soft, absolutely everything is in place.

Does that seem formulaic? Hell yes. It's all been done before, but not often with such punctuality. You know how there's sometimes a quite good song by a band you generally dislike (in my case, Sleeping Awake by P.O.D. is a good example)? Well, this album contains everything you otherwise would have had to buy 50 cds with 80% filler for, and manages to construe 11 perfectly organic songs from it as well.

"Size matters" is a piece of pure accuratesse and craftmanship. I'd like to see someone keep a straight face and deny that "Enemies" is totally old-school anthemic with a downright cheeky chorus, "Throwing punches" is a fuckin' tight grunge revival and "See you dead" is head-bobbingly catchy.

I don't think Hamilton was trying to make a hit album. I just think he wanted to make this album because he fucking can.

I love Meantime, I love Betty and I love this.

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Monochrome - Warcon 2006
Rating = 7

This is a shout-out to Page Hamilton for replacing the little PUSSY BOYS he had in his band with REAL MEN, getting kicked off his pussyass MAJOR LABWEL, and finally returning to heavy, dark, weird, angry chord sequences. His voice unfortunately isn't as deep and grrroooovy as it used to be, and he sounds a little weird trying to inject gravel into his higher-pitched skinny voice. Still, if you turn your stereo way up, you won't be able to help but notice that this album KICKS FUCKING ASS. It might as well be on AmRep, it's so raw, heavy, pissed off, and filled with Helmetastic staccato chord changes. THANK YOU AGAIN, PAGE HAMILTON. THANK YOU.

Detubned guitar, lock-step heavy chords like the old Helmet. Not as thickly bassy as Meantime, but very sick chord changes, some real PISSED OFF SHIT, anger, some speed, some great great great chord changes, and Page going "graaaaaawwwww!" forcing gravel into his voice like a rockr. In addition, he ensures that the lead guitarist provides a lot of eerie, high-pitched lead guitarwork that sounds fantastic with the detuned chord lock-step anger. Very emotional note/chord high-pitched changes on top of the detuned FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU anger chords. If only Helmet had been dumped from Interscope a decade ago, we wouldn't have had to sit through fuckin Aftertaste and asspipe Size Matters. The quality of these songs is right up there with Betty and Meantime, and the SOUND is like a follow-up to Strap It On! This is NOT radio-ready at all even a tiny bit except for one single song - the title track. The rest is classic Helmet with a screamy guy on top. Great, Great, GREAT chord changes fucked all over the rhythm from downbeat to backbeat to confusing you all over, and that high-pitched emotional riffage will have you weeping to the heavens, "I LOVE YOU, PAGE HAMILTON! THANK YOU FOR RE-REALIZING YOUR MUSICAL STRENGTHS!!!"

It definitely gets weaker near the end, let's not kid myself - but the first seven songs are AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME Helmet compositions. Raw, heavy, loud, bitter, catchy, and gravelllllly and RAWWWRRR I'm in HELMET! Like the old days!

Thank you, Page Hamilton. I'm dead serious. Your last album made me think, "What the fuck happened to this guy?" But now, I'm all like, "Dude - this is IT!!!!" So if you're a fan of Strap It On and can deal with the idea of Page's voice being more high-pitched and faux-scratchy than it used to do, please buy this CD. It deserves sales for its heaviness, hookiness, unorthodoxness, intelligence and evilness. RAW!!!!!

Drunk? The fuck are you talking about? I spilled my water all over the place at dinner tonight because I'm charming.

Also, tits are awesome.

Reader Comments

Hey this is the best news I have read in a long time. Over the last year or two I have become a Helmet fan. I've bought all the albums up to Betty so far and haven't bought Afertaste or Size Matters based on your reviews (I know I should judge for myself, and I will, but maybe later). Im glad to hear they kick just as much ass as they did 10 years ago. I will defo be buying this album !

Yes sir, this album is good. I've only other heard Strap It On and Meantime, don't think I'll bother with Size Matters because this one is pretty damn good. I really like the singing on the first track. The one thing that bothers me though is the song they chose for a single, I forget which one, is such a blatent ripoff of 'Unsung'. Same sounding guitars, vocals, hell there's even the drum fill ins that sound like they came from the Unsung song itsself. Anyway, good to see Page is still doing good Despite Helmet being on the Warped Tour, being pimped on MTV 2 commericals and all that. 2006 has been one of the best years for music in quite a while.

I agree about the new Helmet album, tits are awesome.

this is better than Size Matters and perhaps even Aftertaste, but it still doesn't feel the Helmet i knew and dug on Strap it On, Meantime, Betty and even Born Annoying. It's heavier but not many songs stick with me. I should probably give it another listen, i've only heard it a couple times in a store, but so far it doesn't quite do it... still, a step in the right direction. I'll be nice and say 7/10.

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Seeing Eye Dog - Work Song 2010
Rating = 7

Seriously, what is it with people getting older and their voices getting thinner? The same thing happened to Michael Gira of the Swans. Page Hamilton used to sound like not just a man, but a MAN'S MAN'S MAN, ready to force you to do push-ups if you winced at his heavy, masculine guitarwork. Now he just sounds like a skinny fellow singing la-de-da. Did somebody replace his voicebox with a penny whistle? If so, one sec while I grab Don Henley's address.

Recorded with yet another entirely new line-up, Seeing Eye Dog is sort of a cross between the last two records. The guitars are plenty heavy and a few of the tracks are headbangy/gravel-shouty, but for the most part this is a much more melodic work. I don't mean corny Linkin Park melodies either, but poppy vocal lines sung (and often harmonized) over heavy guitar chords. Put more succinctly, it's like a less slick (and better-written) Size Matters mixed with a less abrasive Monochrome. Though most of the vocals are hooky and smoothly-sung, there is no attempt to lighten the guitars or gloss up the production for radio play.

The record is also surprisingly diverse for a Helmet record -- not to the extent of Betty, but to the extent that the trademark Helmet approach is applied to everything from steamrolling anger and well-constructed emotionalism to palm-muted thwacking and Branca-esque avant-garde to pop grunge and a Beatles cover. I would never argue that it's as great as the early Helmet records, but it's truly an enjoyable and surprising listen. A few ideas seem a bit lacking (the title track is a total Meantime rip, the Helmet-goes-Everclear yuckpop of "LA Water" has nothing going for it except its multiple overdubs, and "And Your Bird Can Sing" is drummed at half-speed for no discernable reason except to suck all the fun out of it), but for the most part this is Page Hamilton putting real thought and effort into making a rocking yet catchy record that can be enjoyed by not only old Helmet fans, but girls as well.

Another thing I really like about the record is how the guitars go Wooo-WOOOOOOOO! In fact, you might say they're the sonic equivalent of a leprechaun. So hide your kids! Hide your wife! -- because BOOM goes the dynamite of Page's guitarwork! You'll be shouting Owww! Oooo! Ooooo! Ooooo! Ooooo! But I guess it's just like Page Hamilton always says: Doing bad things is fun!

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