There are certain bands that have the ability to evolve in a way that it doesn’t seem like they are yet, they truly have albeit in a subtle way. Never a band to be complacent or comfortable, Helms Alee have been pushing the boundaries of the sludge metal genre since their first release back in 2007. Noctiluca, the bands fifth full length studio album, sees the band moving more into a progressive territoty while still maintaing their psychedelic and sludgy tendencies.
The album as a whole has something for everyone. Songs like “Interachnid,” “Beat Up,” are signature Helms Alee with thunderous rhythms and delayed guitars that give the album the start and roar it needs. Then you have a song like “Be Rad Tomorrow” which takes the band on a different journey. This song is one of the more experimental tracks on the album with a more prog feel to it. The expansiveness of this song is very representative of how the members of Helms Alee have evolved as writers and players. Then you have a song like “Lay Waste Child” that continues what “Be Rad Tomorrow” started only this song, takes you deeper down the rabbit hole. “Illegal Guardian” seems to complete the trilogy of the previous two songs. This track is everything that Helms Alee is all about. I’m not going to give it away. You just need to listen and you’ll hear what I mean. A song like “Spider Jar” is a welcome treat. It shows off the more melodic side of the band and provides a more delicate approach to the bands sound. Closing out the album is “Word Problem” a song that is drenched in doomy sludge (think Sabbath meets The Melvins). It’s a straight forward song that will have you starting the album over once it’s done.
Helms Alee have created an album that hits on everything they’ve done till now. Noctiluca is the type of album that if you are just discovering the band, it will get you into them for sure. One of the best things about Helms Alee is that as a three piece drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis, bassist Dana James, and guitarist Ben Verellen are super tight and play off each other so well. They have the ability to create a sonic assault that while deafening at times is soothing and almost hypnotic. If you have the chance to see Helms Alee live, I highly recommend you do. Their live show makes their songs truly come alive and will give you one hell of a rush.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Helms Alee- Noctiluca:
If you are not familiar with Helms Alee, you really should be. For more than a decade, with five studio albums, and countless EP’s, Helms Alee has quietly been carving their own path and are busting at the seams waiting to explode. On April 26th, Helms Alee will unleash their fifth studio album, Noctiluca via Sargent House. This three piece band featuring drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis, bassist Dana James and guitarist Ben Verellen are not to be reckoned with. Noctiluca continues the bands tradition of sludgy riffs, lush instrumentals, and soaring melodies. The first single released, also the albums opener, “Interachnid” is one hell of a way to kick things off and get you engrossed in what’s to come on this new journey of an album. Helms Alee has always been the type of band that gives it their all on each release. They have a sort of psychedelic sense to their savage being allthe while, they are able to cut away to parts that really take you places. This new Helms Alee album is anticipated for sure!
Helms Alee- Interachnid:
Heavy music is my bread and butter. I can’t get enough of it. Doesn’t matter the genre or sub-genre, I dig it. Recently I came across a band that will be playing with Helms Alee at their upcoming Los Angeles show. This band is Andraus and they are fantastic. As a two piece of just drums and guitars, holy wow! When I was looking into the band more I read their bio and I have to agree with what they said the band sounds like. “If the Van Halen brothers grew up listening to Metallica, the Melvins, and, well, Van Halen, you have the sound of Andraus.” That couldn’t be more true. Their self titled EP is one hell of a record. There are so many wonderful moments on this record it’s hard to pinpoint just one. From the start of the EP with “Ignition” and all the songs in between like “Getaway,” “Beast Heart,” and closer “Passage To Hell,” you know that brothers Andrew and Austin Cox are the real deal. I personally can’t wait to see them with the great Helms Alee and another Los Angeles favorite Mustard Gas and Roses.
Andraus- Andraus EP:
It’s been a few days since I finally saw the great Helms Alee, and I can’t stop listening to them. They are one of the best and underrated bands I’ve heard in a long time. Formed in Seattle in 2007, Ben Verellen (guitar/vocals), Dana James (bass/vocals), and Hozoji Matheson-Margullis (drums/vocals), have created music that borders on doom, post hardcore, a dash a sludge and a pinch of alternative rock. In my live review of them I mentioned that they sound a bit like if Siamese Dream era Pumpkins and Self titled era Alice In Chains had a kid and that kid met up with a kid from Doom and post-hardcore parents, you’d get Helms Alee. Among the remarkable things about Helms Alee is their ability to create such powerful music. Thanks to Ben Verellen’s, Verellen Amplifiers, the sound that permeates from the speakers on your stereo and at the venue, transcends the normal. Since 2007, Helms Alee has released 4 full length albums along with 5 EP’s/Splits. Each album has built upon their previous work to create something remarkable and everlasting. Helms Alee are a band not just for today but, for generations to come.
Helms Alee- Stillicide:
Helms Alee- Sleepwalking Sailors:
Helms Alee- LIVE Audiotree Session:
Helms Alee- LIVE on KEXP:
Let me set the tone for the evening. It was a perfect Southern California evening. The weather was perfect and the mood was meant for music that would knock your socks off. It also seems that Downtown Los Angeles is fast becoming the place for rock/metal bands to play. Last night was worth the trip for sure.
Kicking off the night was the very alluring Mustard Gas & Roses. Their brand of doom metal set the standard for the evening. This Los Angeles based four piece is the perfect band to get you in the mood for a night of great music. They are cinematic and proficient in their performance. I’ve been hearing about this band for a little bit now and they were everything I thought they would be.
Next up was Helms Alee. This band left me absolutely breathless. I’ve been meaning to go see them live for some time and I finally had my chance and WOW. Their blistering set was visceral and inspiring. The magnitude of tone they delivered from their drums, bass and guitars made it seem like they were playing an arena. I’m always intrigued by melody and even with their doom approach, the melody was not lost. With all three members doing vocals, that really gives a whole different dynamic to their style of music, There were times during their set that they reminded me a bit of Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins and self titled era Alice In Chains but with a bit of doom to it. Helms Alee is the type of band that releases great albums but, in order to fully grasp the greatness of this band, you NEED TO SEE THEM LIVE.
The main event of the evening was Mutoid Man. They are another band that I’ve been really wanting to see live. Their albums are stellar and the fact that drummer Ben Koller and singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky were finally able to get together and form a band makes me extra happy, being as I’m a HUGE fan of Cave In and I really dig on Converge. The addition of bassist Nick Cageao adds a whole other layer and dimension of heavy to the band. Mutoid Man really knows how to deliver a great night of riffs, pummeling drums, jokes, and great performances. Like Helms Alee, Mutoid Man puts out great albums but, it’s really best to go see them live. Their set featured songs from both their full length albums (Bleeder and War Moans) along with songs from their debut EP. They drove the crowd into a frenzy, with a perfect mosh pit as well. My friend and I couldn’t resist joining in on the pit fun, as we moshed our way to the front of the venue.
What a great night for a show. Three great bands on one bill to make it known that heavy music is alive and well along with the take no prisoners approach. I highly recommend you all taking the time to go see them live and give a listen to these three great bands albums. You will not only thank me later but, you’ll feel compelled to go buy their albums.
Review By: Brian Lacy