Helmet - Seeing Eye Dog
Back in the early to mid 90s, Helmet made sledgehammer riffs and short, sharp kickass rock palatable to the mainstream, the sound that bands like Suicidal, DRI, Big Black and Ministry were delivering underground. As the opener to this new release, "So Long" at once sounds like a return to classic style, but with a softer, more melodic friendliness. That isn't always a good thing for a band that made its bones by breaking skulls. Page Hamilton's out of control guitar solo saves the day, though, letting old fans relax and keep digging into "Seeing Eye Dog." The title track slaps and smacks along in classic Helmet style. This is no nostalgia show; Helmet more or less stay in classic mode, but many of these songs stand with their best and it is good to see them back.
The grinding, Husker-y "In Person" is a soaring gem, both brutal and melodic . Again it is the solid guitars on the melody, and out of control on the solos, that make the tune and provide Helmet's classic signature. "Morphing" is an odd, ambient tune that never really gets going; it just seems like a long synth intro, though it does segue into "White City," a tune that does feature synth near the end, and is as lukewarm.
While "Welcome To Algiers" and "LA Water" are pretty generic and "And Your Bird Can Sing" is, of course, a mistake, (covering The Beatles is always dicey, and a mid-tempo pop-metal tune that has no bite and no glory is no way to approach one of their songs), "Miserable" and "She's Lost" close out the set in familiar brooding, smoldering power.
Helmet made a big noise when they first hit the scene back in the day, and then it seemed as if they faded out and/or let the scene pass them by. "Seeing Eye Dog" proves, though, that the fire is still with them, as is the desire to make their music their way regardless of trends. Be happy: here's another band you never though you missed, but secretly did.
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