Some bands have trouble modernizing their sound. Such is the problem of Helmet, who's eighth record Dead To The World has exactly that problem.
Helmet were the biggest force in noise rock and punk rock in the 1990s, and that influence even carried forward into the 2000s. Something happened since then, though. Perhaps it was a conscious awakening or a unanimous vote for change, but Helmet isn't the same band they once were. They've become a distorted shadow of the threat they once were, their original power replaced by something strange.
There are still traces of what they once were, though. Songs like 'Expect The World' have gritty vocals and big riffs reminiscent of their old track. The vocals do fall to a disgustingly slobbery level by the end of the song, though. The start of the album is much better, 'Life Or Death' having an old fashioned sound with some soft moments mixed in. 'I Heart My Guru' is pure rock n' roll, the electrifying guitar wails sounding confidently in the intro. If the ending wasn't so grossly throaty, it would be on of only tracks worth revisiting on the record. 'Red Scare' has a giant riff and dramatic chorus that feels a bit like Metallica, giving the song some atmosphere and some space.
It's all downhill from there. It feels like the band had only heard the poppiest tracks on the radio in the last five years and tried to emulate that while attempting to mix it with their own. Really, what is this Weezer shit going on in 'Green Shirt'? How is this a Helmet song? 'Bad News' has a big riff, but the melodies are far too poppy and weird in context of the instrumental for it to make sense. Let alone the terrible lines "All news is bad news" that is the subject of every chorus.
The album gets progressively more boring as it goes on, and the band makes some pretty bad mixing decisions. Who on Earth edited the fade in part at the end of 'Drunk In The Afternoon'? It feels like a legitimate mistake. They decided the end the record with a slow version of the intro track, which really isn't that much slower or different from the original - it's basically the same song at a slower tempo. Was it that hard to write another song that they just slowed down the first one assuming we had already forgotten about it? Fair play.
Helmet may have lost their punch. Their eighth album Dead To The World is in shambles. It's full of cringey attempts at modernizing their sound and genuinely bad production choices. Where did it go wrong? The band used to have so much power, and now they feel like an old horse. It's a shame, really. Maybe they'll find something new to hone in on by the next album, if that ever comes around. If it's following the sound of this record, though, perhaps it's best for them to hang up the coat.
Favorite Track: Red Scare
Least Favorite Tracks: Green Shirt, Drunk In The Afternoon, Life and Death (Slow), Look Alive, Die Alone
Rating: 45 / 100