April 29, 2017
Helmet finally returned to Australia in 2017 to celebrate their third and was is considered to be their most experimental album Betty from start to finish, which was originally released by Amphetamine Reptile Records as a double 10”.
Betty is built on Helmet’s trademarked hypnotic, earworm, crunching riffs infused breaks galore and based on a solid foundation of pounding, driving drums, but features a broader approach compared to their 1992 major label debut Meantime, with its forays into mastermind Page Hamilton’s indulgences blues and jazz, the latter of which he has a master’s degree in composition in.
Given Hamilton’s musical reach and expertise, it its almost surprising how much Helmet has stuck to its formula with Betty being the only slight derivation, where Hamilton infused the songs with a bit of melody and meandered different territories.
While Helmet live has always been a force to be reckoned with, the dynamic time signature changes, textural diversity and range of tunings the songs of Betty were recorded in along with the band expanding their songwriting approach, playing those songs seemingly poses a challenge the band enjoys as they power through it, with Hamilton mastering the passages that in recorded form have distorted vocals.
Helmet is a not a band of pomp or big (or any) any words: Stoically they plough through their set with the audience of the night, of which the lion’s share has come out of the woodwork and live show retirement, approvingly bopping their heads and celebrating each lick of what has been labeled “thinking man’s metal”.
Apart from Betty in its entirety, the second half of their set Helmet offered renditions of their other hits but also from the newest emission, Dead To the World.
The evening was testament to the timelessness of Helmet’s oeuvre – one that in terms of influences has sent massive waves in both directions.
One would need to flipchart to illustrate how pervasive its influence has been since the mid-90ies: Be it in terms of groove metal for outfits like Pantera and Sepultura, mainstream darlings like Queens of the Stone Age, Tool or even softer bands like Weezer and the Smashing Pumpkins, via hardcore and post-hardcore acts like Quicksand and Orange 9mm, as well as sludge and dirtier calibers like the Californians of –(16)- or Floridians Cavity, as well as the math-metal genre in general have been heavily influenced by Helmet.
Tonight’s show demonstrated in an impressive manner that Helmet’s no-frills approach is still captivating its audience in a live environment.
Photos by KAVV