Helmet, Size Matters (Interscope)

Posted October 27th, 2004 by admin

Size Matters
By: Eric Greenwood

Chalk up another needless reunion as Paige Hamilton resurrects Helmet — his deafening early ‘90’s tour de force — with a new cast of assclowns, sporting embarrassing pedigrees like White Zombie and Anthrax. Technically, though, it’s not even really a reunion since Hamilton is the only original remaining member. Why bother? Does anyone still care?

When Helmet unleashed Strap It On onto the noise rock scene in late 1991 on the infamously raucous Amphetamine Reptile label, articulate metal was a fairly revolutionary means of expression. Helmet rocked succinctly, carefully eschewing showy heavy metal clich├ęs like one leg on the amp guitar solos. Hamilton’s jazz-trained background helped him meld bizarre time signatures with anvil-heavy riffage, which reached a commercial and creative apex on its major label debut, Meantime, in early 1992. MTV airplay briefly garnered Helmet some mainstream exposure and band to watch status in the post-Nirvana fire, and Helmet consequently packed clubs that summer and fall.

1994’s Betty offered an even more bizarre musical landscape for Hamilton’s growling, disjointed vocal melodies but proved to be too complicated for mass audiences and barely even kept the faithful entertained. The gruff of Meantime took a backseat to experimental musical distractions that contained zero personality or panache. The de-tuned sledgehammer attack missed its mark by a long shot. And 1997’s Aftertaste left a bad one in everyone’s mouth, as Helmet sounded like a half-baked and utterly forgettable shadow of its former self.

Size Matters tries to recapture the glory days of Meantime, but it’s too mediocre to rise to the challenge. The melodies all blend together while the riffs rarely scare up so much as an eyebrow. Despite Hamilton’s grittiest vocals to date, Size Matters is inarguably watered-down and bland. Helmet's blueprint has been used so many times since the mid-'90s that it barely draws attention to itself in 2004. Plodding tempos, boring, over-compressed guitars, and a muddied sense of purpose leave Helmet destined for the cutout bin once again.

Tags: review