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Helmet – Meantime

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Meantime (1992)

Meantime (1992)

Meantime is an alternative classic, but few people sing praises over it. I don’t really know why. It’s a great album, and for alternative metal, it does a lot more for me than, say, Rage Against the Machine.

Though the metal is grinding, loud, and abrasive, it contrasts nicely with lyrics that are subdued and contemplative, and almost like poetry. My first experience with Helmet was, like most people, the song “Unsung.” Certainly its main riff is one of the most memorable in all alternative music. No one who listened to it honestly could deny its power and sway – it just sort of pounds through you and turns you into a grunge-like zombie, completely fixated on the notes’ unrelenting drone. Unlike the lyrics, the repeated riff is not complicated, which is part of its genius. Perhaps its basicness taps into the baseness of all of us.

“Unsung” is probably the best song on the album, but the rest isn’t just filler. Though the songs do have a tendency to sound the same, and everytime I get to about track six, I feel a tendency to turn it off.

Sure, Helmet probably won’t be one of the bands you mention if someone were to ask you to name ten alternative acts that changed music forever. But for Helmet, that really wan’t their bag. They where just about doing their own thing – making powerful, engaging music that wasn’t exactly pretty. And because it wasn’t pretty, it connects with some of us who can relate to that better than the blistering guitar solos offered by the likes of Pearl Jam or other more “talented” acts.

Despite their similarities to other bands, Helmet were uniquely their own. Their juxtaposition of noise, hardcore, metal, and alternative make for an interesting listen that can’t help but overwhelm you with its power. Admittedly, Helmet and Meantime are things I have to be in the mood for. But when I want something powerful, confusing, and almost grunge-like except a little harder, or if I just want to take a trip back in time, then Meantime holds that slot.

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