Allow me to profess my undying love for Hydra Head Records. Created in 1993 by then high school student Aaron Turner (of ISIS fame), the independent label is now home to a bevy of well respected acts, all hailing from different ends of the musical spectrum. Cave-In, Kayo Dot, and Jesu—legendary groups in their own right-- all call this label their home. Add another band to list of excellent and established bands, for coming out of left field is Helms Alee, sporting their superbly executed sophomore album, Weatherhead.
Weatherhead is the band’s first release since 2008’s Night Terror, an excellent, albeit quirky album that never really managed to find its footing. Thankfully, Weatherhead fixed much of what was so inconsistent about that album, creating a much more engaging piece of music in the process. It’s more streamlined and cohesive, yet retains what made their debut so arresting in the first place.
What’s most admirable about Helms Alee’s second record is its inability to be pigeonholed into any one particular genre. Melding progressive rock, post-metal, and psychedelic, Weatherhead stands as a strange amalgamation of multiple genres—a torrent of sonic assault and twisted phantasmagorical melodies. It’s undeniably heavy, but not necessarily in the way loud guitars and screamed vocals makes an album “heavy.” There’s a great sense of depth and breadth, which in turn creates a very dense and immersible atmosphere. The dual male/female vocals are a standout, as the formula goes beyond what listeners have come to expect. Literally, the same vocal styles are rarely used more than once, making for an incredibly varied experience.
That being said, the album is by definition “heavy,” as for the most part, Helms Alee are a metal band. As stated previously, however, it sounds much different in its execution when the myriad of genres come into play. This is what makes the album so wonderful. You really can’t predict what will happen next, making for a wildly exciting listen that at times leaves you at the edge of your seat.
Hemls Alee have excelled in this respect, as Weatherhead is easily one of the more engaging albums released this year. It's a fairly meaty album, and is likely to keep you busy for quite some time. Fusing a near impractical amount of sounds, the album stands as an exceptional achievement, displaying a band heavily deserving of super-star status.
2. Elbow Grease
4. Music Box
5. Pretty as Pie
6. Anemone of the Wound
7. Mad Mouth
8. Epic Adventure Through the Wood
9. Speed Sk8r
10. Pig Pile
12. Ripper No Lube
13. Born in Fiberglass