Helmet falls into the category of bands that had the unfortunate luck of spawning a group of bands that were nothing more than third-rate rip-offs. This puts them in the company of fellow alternative metal act Faith No More. How unfortunate. I'm sure front man Page Hamilton is spinning in his grave. Or at least he would be, if he were dead.
Size Matters is the first release of new music from Helmet in seven years. And in that time span, a lot has happened in the world of music. Perhaps the biggest change is the mainstream success of alternative metal bands on both television and radio. In their heyday, it would have been laughable to hear Helmet on anything other than college radio.
So here we are seven years later and Helmet has returned to reclaim their territory. But Size Matters isn't exactly a return to form for Helmet; Hamilton is the only core member who remains from the band's early days. For this release he enlisted guitarist Chris Traynor (Orange 9mm), drummer John Tempesta (Rob Zombie), and bassist Frank Bello (Anthrax). The new recruits get the job down well, but since Hamilton wrote the vast majority of the songs, there is little to say about the others' contributions. They're all talented individuals on their respective instruments, but one can hardly say they contributed much beyond being hired guns.
The easiest way to analyze the songs of Helmet is to separate them into two categories. On one hand, we have songs such as "Smart," "Everybody Loves You," and "Throwing Punches." These songs find Hamilton utilizing his "red-neck truck driver" voice. His delivery is predominantly rough sounding yelling, not screams. The closest comparison I can draw is Iron Lung of Scissorfight. Musically, these songs feature the more aggressive riffs and fast-paced drumming that rekindle thoughts of Helmet material found on Strap it On.
On the other hand, we have "Crashing Foreign Cars" and "Unwound" that feature the softer and more accessible Hamilton. With use of catchy melodies, memories of "Milquetoast" and "Like I Care" quickly are drawn out of the deepest depths of the Helmet fan's mind. As a whole, these types of songs are much more prevalent on Size Matters, which is the opposite of previous Helmet material. For those among Helmet fans that preferred this vocal styling of Hamilton, you will be pleased to hear that these songs are not only the cream of the crop on ths release, but also rival those of rock radio acts like The Deftones and Foo Fighters.
So was the return of Helmet a return to glory? That's up for debate. And while it's nice to have a solid rock band like Helmet around again, the cohesion from albums like Meantime and Betty is lacking on this latest effort. But despite the sub par return endeavor, Helmet still executes alternative metal superior to that of the "nu-metal" parade that they involuntarily influenced.
6.5 / 10
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