Release Date: Oct 28, 2016
Record label: Ear Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal
I first discovered the personality of Page Hamilton by reading an article about Helmet in a guitar magazine. He struck me as someone who had a level head sitting atop his mildly chipped shoulders. Throughout the interview, he discouraged the notion of any musical genre having a sense of purity, talked down to rock stars, and wasn’t close to taking his band’s success for granted.
It’s hard to calculate just how pervasive Helmet founder Page Hamilton’s influence has been, but at one point during the mid-90’s it seemed as if his footprints were all over the heavy metal and alt-rock landscape. You could make a strong case that there are traces of Hamilton’s style in the music of Tool, the Deftones, and even the likes of Weezer and the Smashing Pumpkins. Helmet’s reach makes sense given that the band's career arc traversed multiple scenes in a short time.
Alt.metal kingpins get heavy enough to wake the dead. Frontman Page Hamilton is the only constant in Helmet’s ever-changing universe, but he can always be relied on to come back into our lives without having mellowed in the slightest. Dead To The World is Helmet’s eighth studio album, and finds them marking the territory they rightfully own by stamping it with some of the heaviest, most earth-shaking riffs you’ll hear this year.
Most people who listened to heavy music in the early 90â€™s have a soft spot for Helmet. The only real question is whether they prefer the noisy near hardcore of Meantime (1992) or the noisy art-rock of Betty (1994). Iâ€™ve always been more in the Meantime and Strap It On (1990) camp, but I enjoyed Betty too. A quick trip through my record collection reminds me that I also bought Aftertaste (1997) and Size Matters (2004), and I even have a promo copy of Monochrome (2006).
The veteran, genre-juggling metal outfit's first collection of new music in six years, Dead to the World continues in the vein of 2010's Seeing Eye Dog, introducing elements of shoegaze and Foo Fighters-esque alt-rock into their already sizeable arsenal of sonic weaponry. Frontman and sole original member Page Hamilton, who also co-produces the album, brings his usual intensity and keen ear for melody to standout cuts like the caustic, power pop-propelled single "Bad News," the muscular opener "Life or Death," and the knotty and atmospheric title track. Again, fans looking for a direct line to the band's "Unsung" heyday will find that the alt-metal might that fueled their early recordings is no longer dialed in at 11, but Hamilton remains a compelling figure who is just as content engaging the listener's cerebrum as he is in landing a haymaker.