Saturday , July 20 2024

The Size of HELMET

HELMET returns after a seven-year absence in September with Size Matters. This makes various internal organs hurt in anticipation.

Check out sneak previews of the vicious riff of See You Dead” and the nutty rudeness of “Speak and Spell” right here.

The new Helmet is Page Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Chris Traynor (guitar), John Tempesta (drums), Frank Bello (bass)

A press release tells what Page has been up to:

    Two years ago, PAGE HAMILTON singer, guitarist and founder of the proto-metal outfit HELMET, was driving around Los Angeles with the radio on. The jock on duty had just debuted the hotly anticipated new track from some nü-metal millionaires. Immediately after the airing, the DJ opened the phones for comments from the listenership. There was some expected best-thing-ever fawning, but what caught

    HAMILTON’s attention was the first dissenting listener. The caller said the track was garbage and should be forgotten as soon as possible. The DJ attempted to bait the caller by daring him to tell the radio audience what he was listening to. The caller replied that he was playing HELMET in his car and explained how he hadn’t heard any rock music that good anymore. Not surprisingly, the DJ did not fight the caller on it.

    “I thought I was going to hit a telephone pole,” says Hamilton about hearing the exchange. “Seriously, it was just a shock to be acknowledged in that context. It made me feel confident about my past, as well as my future.”
    That future is right now. On September 14, Interscope will release SIZE MATTERS, the first collection of new HELMET music in seven years. The album’s title refers to, according to PAGE, “An obsession in {American} culture with higher, louder, bigger and faster. There are no rewards {or regard} for integrity and progressive thought anymore.” HAMILTON has reactivated the HELMET name with a lineup including guitarist CHRIS TRAYNOR (Orange 9mm, Bush, Helmet), drummer JOHN TEMPESTA (Rob Zombie, Testament), and bassist FRANK BELLO (Anthrax). Recorded earlier this year and produced by HAMILTON with assistance from producer Jay Baumgardner and former Nine Inch Nails associate Charlie Clouser, SIZE MATTERS isn’t necessarily a return to form. Rather, it’s an expansion of the vocabulary that HAMILTON has built his reputation upon (minimalist crushing riffs, taut rhythmic propulsion, clusterbomb solos and seething lyrical invective) coexisting with a greater melodic sense.

    “In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to sit in the company of people like Bono, David Bowie and [film composer] Elliot Goldenthal and I soaked up a lot of ideas from those people,” says HAMILTON, illuminating the path that got him to make SIZE MATTERS. “It gave me the confidence in my own writing. You listen to those early HELMET records and you’ll hear that ‘anti-songwriter’ vibe I had going around back then. I was using my voice as a rhythmic instrument, with less regard for the meaning of the words. Now I appreciate clarity.”

I looked at old Helmet here:

    I was just going through some of my old radio playlists from the early-to-mid ’90s, and I was startled how much I played a band that I have barely thought of since: Helmet.

    Talk about rocking the rectum! The very respectable and preppy-looking band led by Glenn Branca-alumnus Page Hamilton, laid down massive slabs of sound in a precision-tooled aural assault of shouted/barked vocals, massively powerful guitar ripped from the very bowels of Hamilton’s amplifier, and stop/start rhythms meant to dislocate and disturb.

    The band broke periodically from the abrupt stops, and through repetition of sledgehammer riffs, built momentum to a fever pitch before breaking down again.

    All of this required exceptional musicianship and is perversely addicting. Strap It On from ’90 established the parameters of the band’s attack, but the gold Meantime from ’92 took them to another quantum level of precision, sonic clarity and power – it ranks with Nirvana’s Nevermind among the greatest HARD rock albums of the decade. “Unsung,” which cautions against the easy way out of suicide, builds to such an unbearable level of intensity that I threw up the first time I heard it. This is a good thing.

    The band’s followup, Betty, went in a much more complex and varied direction, but lost its power in the process. Then they just went away. Come back Page Hamilton and bring your HEAVY guitar with you.

Well, I guess he is, come September.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

Check Also

SXSW Film Review: Alt-Rock Documentary ‘I Get Knocked Down’

In Dunstan Bruce's quasi-documentary about his former band, Chumbawamba, he reflects on his life as he's rounding 60.