Release Date: Feb 11, 2014
Record label: Sargent House
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Heavy Metal, Experimental Rock, Sludge Metal
Creating things, especially creative works, can be a grueling process. The kind of brainpower it takes to pull even a bad record out of the ether and onto magnetic tape is astounding, so when an album comes along as carefully crafted as Sleepwalking Sailors, the third outing from Seattle-based sludge rockers Helms Alee, it's a truly impressive feat. With a sound that tends to drift between the discordant jangle of the Pixies and the powerful sonic gut-punch of the Melvins, the trio weaves together a dense tapestry of moody noise rock that seems to constantly shift and change directions.
For those of us who have strange, vivid dreams, sometimes accompanied by somnambulism and other nocturnal adventures, there are a series of tests that can be performed on the dream universe to determine its veracity. Light switches tend to behave oddly; facial features and words tend to be similarly nebulous. But the surest way to tell if you're dreaming is always the atmosphere: neither solid nor liquid, impossible to move quickly in, dream air (and water) is characterized by a syrupy viscosity.
“Pleasure Center” works like a rollercoaster: At the start of Sleepwalking Sailors, the third album by Washington state trio Helms Alee, Ben Verellen’s electric guitar picks up speed by slowing down, its single note swelling into a carbuncle of feedback. The drums canter in, and the band clips along amicably enough—that is, at least, until they race temporarily into bursts of irascible distortion and screams. Helms Alee backs out, but only to rush in again.
Sleepwalking Sailors, the third studio outing by the Seattle-based Helms Alee, begins with a short wave of feedback followed by fast hits of the hi-hat. Yet, amazingly enough, what follows is not a nasty, dissonant hardcore punk riff—the sound one would probably hear under normal circumstances given those signposts—but instead something that sounds like a lost Isis riff. Not long after this, however, the song has kicked into overdrive, with screamed vocals and sludgy guitars driving high into the mix.
Of all the bands associated with the Hydra Head label in its dying days, Helms Alee were the band I worried for the most. This hugely talented trio had produced two of the finest - and most underrated – albums of the last decade in Night Terrors and Weatherhead; albums that defied categorisation and easy assimilation, and were the work of tremendously committed musicians that deserved mass attention and acclaim. Yet with the demise of Hydra Head it seemed it wasn’t meant to be.
Helms Alee — Sleepwalking Sailors (Sargent House)<a href="http://helmsalee. bandcamp. com/album/sleepwalking-sailors" data-mce-href="http://helmsalee.