Something Else Worth Listening To This September!
Well after two equally shitty reviews of the new Linkin Park and Stone Sour albums this month which have went on to great acclaim by apparently everyone but myself or anyone who appreciates original metal, I am rejuvenated to say that there are two more albums worth picking up this month. Some mainstream bands seem to fail upwards and are hailed as pioneers or something equally as idiotic when they release a steaming pile of shit that goes straight to number 1 on Billboard. Most metal bands don’t have the same fortune and they are hoping that each release will be the one that breaks them through to the masses. This month Volbeat and Helmet each put out very solid releases which will at least concrete the ground they’re already in.
Helmet’s seventh album Seeing Eye Dog was a giant breath of fresh air for me after 2006’s Monochrome and 2004’s Size Matters. The blandness of their last ‘return to roots’ album actually made me forget it even existed in my library until I wrote this article, which is how little I played it. Size Matters at least had some very catchy tunes at the beginning of the album before tailing off to being bland and repetitive by the end. At least I’ll still randomly play tracks off of that album. Seeing Eye Dog has a very upbeat catchy sound to it which is more along the return to roots that I wanted to hear. The opening track ‘So Long’ has the feel of 1992 Helmet and is the catchiest tune they’ve written since ‘See You Dead’ in 2004. The rest of the album moves along nicely and very quickly. At times it does get a little bland but this one is never objectionable with the exception of ‘Morphing’ which has me wondering why exactly it’s even on the album. It is a three minute ambient instrumental track which I could see as the background noise the band would walk on stage to but not in the middle of the album. The Beatles’ cover of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ is actually very catchy, and just like the rest of the album is under produced enough to sound authentic and not forced at all. If you’re a Helmet fan, then this is a good addition to your collection that you won’t throw in the closet after two listens. If you’re not really a fan of theirs to begin with, this album isn’t going to change your mind or do anything to excite you, but I suggest you give it a shot. Helmet falls into the same category as a band like Prong does to me with very predictable, straight forward albums that you either like or you don’t. I just happen to like this one.
Volbeat’s fourth album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven picks up right where the storyline of Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood left off. If you loved their first three releases then you’re in for another treat this time. If they’re too Elvis-ish or (good) Danzig-ish for your taste then this won’t convince you to give them another chance. The album is catchier than the last album, and if it’s possible it’s even more all over the board than their prior releases. From harmonica solos to death metal vocals this album seems to reach both ends of the spectrum. Tracks like ‘Who They Are’ start off with a very ominous sound reminiscent of Slayer before Michael Poulsen’s rockabilly mixed with heavy metal vocals throw your mind for a loop. One thing Volbeat has going for them is because they don’t particularly identify to any one genre, songs that sound completely out of place still feel like they belong in the storyline of the album. It’s kind of like Metallica if they placed ‘Mama Said’ in the middle of Master Of Puppets, except Volbeat can away with it. ‘7 Shots’ starts off with an old western bar boot stomping sound before Mille of Kreator and Michael of King Diamond kick the song dead in the ass. ‘A New Day’ has all of the catchiness of a Queens of the Stone Age Song and ’16 Dollars’ makes me think of Reverend Horton Heat gone straight up metal. The must hear track on this album however is ‘Evelyn’ because it mixes the Volbeat sound with the vocals of Barney from Napalm Death. It’s just too cool for words because I am confident that I will never hear another song like it. Imagine Satan regurgitating Elvis’ fat ass to join him in an ass kicking duet. That is the best description I have for this song. This indeed is a very cool album that pushes the boundaries of what people call metal but is still very much metal to me. When I’m in a mood for Volbeat I always just end up turning on all of their albums and this one will fit perfectly in chronological order behind the first three releases.