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. Continue reading
There’s decent pedigree within the ranks of New England quartet Kind, and the filthy, leaden groove attacking the knees from the beginning of debut album Rocket Science (Ripple) bears that out. Yes, it’s Stoner but, initially at least, there’s more life in the plunking of the bass, the reverb of the whole sound and Craig Riggs’ vocal roar which, far from the emphysemic gargle usually expected, has a depth and resonance befitting the growling riffs and sedentary pace.
An atmospheric production further lifts the sound throughout, giving the lazy Blues-Rock of ‘Rabbit Astronaut’ a mystique which enhances both the smokiness of the riff and the frenetic lead. The tempo of ‘Fast Number One’ is aptly ramped up to near-NWOBHM, levels yet Tom Corino’s mellow bass notes and the subtle riff allow the track to breathe through Matthew Couto’s precise stickwork. Riggs’ delivery is a little ‘pubby’, however, manfully handling some pretty clunky lyrics.
Not unexpectedly there is a stodginess to certain elements. It takes a gradual quickening and more of Darryl Shepard’s howling leadplay to inject life into the somewhat dull and uninspired meanderings of the overlong ‘Hordeolum’: the powering riff and Psychedelic vocal gracing the last quarter showing what might have been. The grinding, dirty Funk of ‘Pastrami Blaster’, meanwhile, is reined by a sluggish torpor which prevents that hot undercurrent from exploding; again only fired to partial grandeur by more electrifying work from Shepard. When things do fire, however, they are both potent and infectious; the nasty, driving power of the standout ‘Grogan’ again given room to flex by a strong yet dextrous riff.
The fuzzed, mellow tones of closer ‘The Angry Undertaker’ are slightly affected by Riggs’ balladic croon which, although wondrous by the genre’s standards, still shows limits on occasion. It’s here, however, where the creativity and fire in the belly is really displayed – the brutal, barrelling riffs and subsequent screams duelling with steadily building and intricate, cosmic leads – and where the uncertainty of Kind’s goodie bag is finally dispelled. Despite brief flashes of the usual failings there is much to be positive about here.
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