Helmet will go down as one of the greatest and most influential bands ever. This fact is undisputed. Coming out of new York City at a time when a generation of bands bred on New York Hardcore values married to the talent of thrash bands (with some general avant-garde weirdness for good measure), Helmet stood out like a sore thumb of weirdness.
Crushingly heavy, brilliant and cool, this was not your older brothers’ metal band, dude. Almost 25 years out after their masterwork Meantime (Interscope) Magnetic Eye Records has recruited a slew of bands in the same mold as Helmet, for Meantime – Redux.
Boston slayers I Am Become Death kick things off with a worthy version of the monstrous title track, ‘In The Meantime’. Noisy and chaotic, they capture the sense of urgency perfectly. Earthship’s version of ‘Ironhead’ and Ironweed’s ‘Give It’ are solid. The biggest hit in Helmet’s career, ‘Unsung’ is given a speeded up, quirky reading by Sunflo’er. Really for such an iconic, recognizable tune, really weird is the only and way to go, rather than a flat copy.
Perhaps the modern band with the closest lineage to a band like Helmet, even their existential children perhaps, is KEN Mode. An almost subdued version of ‘Turned Out’ is brutal, and brilliant. Great to hear Jesse Mathewson sing anytime, but he does a great job hear. Totally nailed the solo too.
The latter half of the album picks up speed. Kings Destroy just crush ‘He Feels Bad’, really bringing out the doom feels. Meek Is Murder do an appropriately grinding, chaotic version of ‘Better’. They should totally play this cover live, as it fits right in with their style.
Ironweed returns again with an A Capella version of ‘You Borrowed’. As much of a beast as the song is, it is really cool to hear it stripped down to bare vocals. It also reminds one that for every bit of the guitar hero Page Hamilton is, he is fine vocalist too.
The Glorious Rebellion and Fuck The Facts could not be more opposite as bands, nor in their tracks covered. ‘FBLA II’, reduced to an even slower, grimy dirge is mind-bending. Fuck The Facts naturally kills ‘Role Model’ dead with its d-beat grind.
The deluxe edition is full of extra top notch tunes. New York’s Fashion Week slays the weird ‘I Know’. These guys are so underrated, so it’s great to see them pop up on a compilation like this. ‘Like I Care’ is nearly a template for the post-rock ministrations of bands like Rosetta. What they do with this moody track is awesome. Another band that brings so much to this set.
‘Sinatra’ has long been my favorite Helmet song, for a variety of reasons. Although it is the swansong recording from now defunct LIVVER, they did noisy hardcore-esque track justice. Heads does a yeoman job with ‘Black Top’. Another track that is neither one sub-genre or another, but definitely original. BlackWolfGoat is the solo project of Darryl Shepard (Kind/ex-Black Pyramid/Milligram). He brings a more straight up riff-chop army approach to ‘Bad Mood’, rather than his usually multi-layered effects heavy approach. As an extra bonus Brief Lives drops a non-Meantime track with Betty’s ‘Milquetoast’ jam.
Well produced and put together, Meantime Redux is definitely worth picking up for the quantity and quality of the tracks. Top marks for the various vinyl options too for collectors.