Friday, August 24, 2012

Helmet - Meantime

Pre-1992, they reportedly blew out CBGB's PA system.

They were allegedly the subject of a 22-label bidding war.

This... was all my teenage self needed to know.

This, I'd gleaned via glossy paper from the (pre-internet) magazine called RIP, specifically from its "buzz" subsection, toward the front, where they'd talk about unsigned bands.

Many, many years and permutations of metal and hardcore later, this is still a great, experimental (Page Hamilton and all his abstract jazz talk payed off) heavy metal album.

It's difficult to nail into any specific sub-category, (industrial maybe, though there are no samples that I recognize)-- and is all the move innovative for that.

Opener "In the Meantime" is probably the best-known Helmet tune (arguably next to track 4, "Unsung"), and solidifies their hardcore/industrial/ metal/ alt-rock riff-based blueprint... "Ironhead" then swoops and lopes and ambles admirably, sounding clich├ęd now, but being pretty unusual back in 1992... "Give it" is very nearly too optimistic to sound like what would be known as the Crowbar sound... "Unsung" is justifiably memorable pop-sludge... "Turned Out" is an uneven-numbered-time-signatured anthem-at-the-chorus (and an underrated classic)... "Better" is "Unsung" volume II....

Overall, the influence (perhaps just of the Zeitgeist, and not conscious imitation) of the emerging grunge rock from Seattle is palpable, but only in its East coast, hurry-the-fuck-up-Jesus-how-much-time-do-I-have-to-wait-behind-you-GodYouPissMeOff way.

It's also one of very few reverb-less guitar tones (Jake E. Lee being the only other one I can immediately think of), and one with very low gain-- there's massive volume (of the EQ of the guitars versus everything else), but little gain. A very cool and unusual combination that I can't remember being duplicated anywhere else.

--Horn

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