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Helmet - Left review



Reviewer:
4.5

21 users:
6.52
Band: Helmet
Album: Left
Release date: November 2023


01. Holiday
02. Gun Fluf
03. NYC Tough Guy
04. Make-Up
05. Big Shot
06. Bombastic
07. Reprise
08. Dislocated
09. Tell Me Again
10. Powder Puff
11. Resolution


Somethings are better just unsung. 

Call it nostalgia (just don't call it a comeback, I been here for years, I'm rockin' my peers, puttin' suckers in fear...), but the idea of a new Helmet album was an interesting prospect. Maybe it was rose-tinted glasses or selective memory, but I had high hopes going into Left, the first album by Helmet in seven years, and only the fifth since their reformation nearly twenty years ago; whatever it was, it left me expecting way more than I got with Left, an album that makes you realise that less is more sometimes. 

Left does start out well, with "Holiday" hitting you with the band's alt-rock style, easing you in not with a bang, but with a comfortable and enjoyable track. Hamilton's vocals may not have the bite they once did, but his style still has its appeal, aiding the choppy and bouncy "Bombastic" in maintaining its catchy edge. The band's alt stylings shine on this latter track; it may not make you put the rose-tinted glasses on... but perhaps just a rose-tinted monocle. 

If that last sentence isn't a subtle enough hint for you, then perhaps I can be a bit more direct for you... this album is weaker than Marvel's releases this year. The album plays out in an indistinguishable mid-paced blur save for the odd interesting riff or drum pattern, to the point that you forget you're listening to it. Even the tracks that do switch up the formula are too little to break the malaise (though calling "Reprise" and "Resolution" songs is a stretch, "Tell Me Again" at the very least is, yet even that can't shake the staidness). This album lacks so much in character and memorability that you could switch up the track order, and you wouldn't notice (or care). 

"Powder Puff" sums up the listless drift that makes up Left, serving up something that sounds like the beginning of a jam session rather than a finished product. Helmet sound as if they've foregone honing their songwriting craft, and just released whatever they had lying around, even if it was incomplete. Compounding this issue is the poor production; everything seems smothered by a pillow, robbing each part of any bite or definition, which is less than ideal when said parts weren't playing anything memorable to begin with. The drums in particular sound like dull thuds more than powerful hits; had they been given more power and tone, "Gun Fluf" could have been a halfway decent track thanks to a driving drum performance. As for the rest of the band? Well, if Spinal Tap went to 11, Helmet are lucky to go to 3. 

I wasn't going into this album expecting another Betty; I was hoping the band could match Dead To The World at most. Instead, the band have released an album that will be Left behind when it should have been Left on the cutting room floor, or at least Left in the oven for longer to cook; now, it'll be Left off of my record player, and Left off my best-of list this year.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 4
Production: 4





Written on 03.12.2023 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments

Comments: 2   Visited by: 71 users
04.12.2023 - 04:24
Coconut Racecar

Pretty well sums up my feelings about this.

Despite the many hundreds of bands I love and have listened to for years, there is only a very small handful that I consider to be sentimental to me, and Helmet is one. I was listening to them before I even really got in to metal, and I've always been excited to hear more when a new album comes out. But now I can no longer say I'm excited for their future...

It's like seeing an old friend deliberately make life ruining choices and there's nothing you can do to help them...

Thankfully, what they've made up until now will always exist, and no one says I can't still enjoy that.

Without a doubt the most disappointing release of 2023 for me.
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04.12.2023 - 21:55
Vellichor

Damn this sucks to hear. I used to love Helmet. I’ll prob check this out anyways but my expectations are considerably lower.
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