Helmet – Left [Album Review]

Review: Benjamin Coe 

It’s been a long time between drinks for Helmet fans but the wait is finally over as they gear up to release their 9th studio album, Left. Page Hamilton and co. are in fine form too, having spent their downtime celebrating their 30th anniversary as a band with a world tour and it’s this energy that provides the backbone for this release.

Helmet have never been ones to stray too far from the niche sound that they’ve carved for themselves over their storied career and it’s easy to see why. Their brand of alt. metal is one that is often imitated but never really perfected. Hell, they’ve been doing this since the late 80’s, of course they’re good at it! And Left is certainly a testament to that legacy.

Starting off strong with lead single Holiday, Hamilton’s signature riffs chug their way through the air in typical Helmet fashion as he drops a number of expletive-laden verses aimed at the “soul-less cliches” of the world. And what follows is just as in-your-face as you’d expect from these guys. Songs like Gun Fluf and NYC Tough Guy with their driving riffs and pounding rhythms only serve to punctuate the social commentary of Hamilton’s one-of-a-kind lyricism.

You’d be forgiven for questioning what century we’re living in these days, what with new albums from Blink 182, The Rolling Stones and even a new Beatles song to boot! It’s like all these multiverses that are so prevalent in pop culture these days are bleeding into reality and timelines are crashing into one another. Leftis the glory days of the 90’s when honest, balls-to-the-wall rock and metal were the order of the day and Helmet were at the forefront.

Standout tracks like single Big Shot and the crushing Dislocated (which almost sounds like an alt. metal/grunge hybrid with its southern-style breakdown midway through) have a hard time standing as tall as they do amongst the plethora of fine tunes on offer here. Even the acoustic stylings of Tell Me Again doesn’t feel out of place here and helps the album flow beautifully to its powerful end with Powder Puff and the avant-garde jazzy closer Resolution.

You can dig as far as you want into Helmet’s back catalogue but mediocre music is not something you will find there and you sure as hell won’t find it here. This is a band proving once again that they are not only relevant, but they’ve still got a thing or two to say.

Helmet’s new album “LEFT” is set to be released on November 10th as CD-Digisleeve, 1LP Black Vinyl and Limited 1LP Transparent Vinyl, and fans can pre-order the album now.