Helmet
Seeing Eye Dog


3.5
great

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
September 12th, 2010 | 33 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The album improves upon the band's previous release with the band making a small, yet firm step in the right experimental direction.

It goes without saying that Helmet led by chrismatic Page Hamilton is one of the most influential bands of the 1990s . Their three groundbreaking records "Strap It On", "Meantime" and "Betty" constitute foundations of such popular genres as nu-metal and post-hardcore alike. The problem is that Helmet invented their revolutionary style nearly two decades ago and since then they have been quite reluctant to progress rehashing their old ideas in a slightly different package over and over again. Their new album is in an advantegous position because it directly follows "Monochrome," the act's most watered down and samey release to date. "Seeing Eye Dog" doesn't miss the chance and indeed improves upon its predecessor with the band making a small, yet firm step in the right experimental direction.

This being stated, thankfully Page Hamilton doesn't steer clear of trademark guitar riffing that is both structurally diverse and unapologetically massive throughout the album. As usual, in order to achieve the effect of contrast he opts for disonant, shrieking solos. The pounding rhythms and signatures also retain jazz influences known from Helmet's classic albums. "So Long" and "Seeing Eye Dog" are basically textbook examples of this kind of playing combined with genuinely catchy choruses. For every two excellent tracks there is always one evident blunder though. Specifically, "Welcome To Algiers", "In Person" and "Miserable" showcase the band on autopilot bringing forgettable riffs and trite melodies to the table. These features have been an apparent problem of the band since their reincarnation with "Size Matters" in 2004. The lack of consistency in the songwriting department is most certainly the album's chief drawback this time as well.

As for all the talk about the change in Hamilton's singing, the effects are barely noticeable. His vocal lines are still harsh, yet very melodic in places. They are hugely reminiscent of his earlier performance on "Size Matters" with a hint of Andrew Cairns's (Therapy?) vulnerability thrown in. However, the album actually contains some notable positive surprises. "LA Water" truly benefits from its upbeat approach, highly distorted, fuzzed-out guitar work and elaborate violin orchestration going on in the background. Post-rock of "Morphing" provides an atmospheric intro to semi-mellow "White City" which has a pleasant stoner rock vibe, while "And Your Bird Can Sing" is a surprisingly playful cover of The Beatles that makes for a welcome change of pace to the band's downright heavy performance. Last but not least, the closer "She's Lost" is worth mentioning due to its monstrously slow, sludgy main riff as well as fairly complex song structure.

All in all, "Seeing Eye Dog" is too uneven to consider it a full-fledged comeback to form for these veterans of heavy rock scene. While Page Hamilton's attempts at a more daring approach towards songwriting are evident in several songs, the changes are not drastic enough to reinvigorate a somewhat one-dimensional style of the band. This, however, doesn't disqualify this thoroughly enjoyable album that seems to be a transitional release for musicians who hopefully will be more eager to explore new musical territories in the forthcoming future.



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3.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Urinetrouble
September 12th 2010


5764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

dammit i was gonna review this first; i agree with the review except for the crappy beatles cover. gonna pos it

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know. I suspected many people would not agree with me on the beatles cover. Still, it's something totally different for them and I basically like discs to be diverse. Thanks.

Digging: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm

Urinetrouble
September 12th 2010


5764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

its their best work since betty plumber; genreally i dont like the beatles but that song was even worse than the regular version

going to listen to this on thanksgiving day with the family

porch
September 12th 2010


8460 Comments


really tired, uninspired album. the songs are completely lacking in the old dynamics and his vocals are pretty awful here. I don't see how Monochrome is more watered down than this or Size Matters either.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually think Size Matters is on pair with this one. Monochrome was a bit of a letdown for me mostly because every song sounded the same. I'll give you that the vox could have been better here. Frankly I've never been a huge fan of Hamilton as a singer. Still, consider the fact that the guy turned 50.

Buccaneer
September 12th 2010


692 Comments


I need to get Betty first, before getting this. Good review

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah. Check out Betty and Meantime. I can't decide which one's better.

SteelErectedb4you8er
September 12th 2010


2618 Comments


I thought Size Matters was pretty damn good. And don't forget Aftertaste, that record is actually really good. It should praised more I feel. Monocrome, I thought that wasn't that great. They tried to go back to the original form, but it lacked the energy that the old records had. 1.) He can't scream like he used to. 2.) It just sounded rehashed. From Porch's comment, it seems more of the same. I wish he would have continued experimentation from the Aftertaste and Size Matters albums.

SteelErectedb4you8er
September 12th 2010


2618 Comments


Also, good job, Greg. As an old Helmet fan, I may give it a try.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I totally agree with you mate. Both Aftertaste and Size Matters were good representations of their more melody-oriented direction. This one is definitely worse than Aftertaste and on pair with or slightly worse than Size Matters. Musically, it recalls Size Matters a lot. Still well worth checking out if you're into them.

Also, thanks a bunch.

Wizard
September 12th 2010


19616 Comments


I thought Size Matters was pretty damn good. And don't forget Aftertaste, that record is actually really good. It should praised more I feel. Monocrome, I thought that wasn't that great. They tried to go back to the original form, but it lacked the energy that the old records had. 1.) He can't scream like he used to. 2.) It just sounded rehashed. From Porch's comment, it seems more of the same. I wish he would have continued experimentation from the Aftertaste and Size Matters albums.

This!

Great review btw.

Digging: Hans Zimmer - Interstellar

random
September 12th 2010


2270 Comments


I heard the title track and it sounded like Vaccination.

Prometherion
September 13th 2010


208 Comments


I need to hear this. I hope that it's really better than Monochrome, because that album as someone has already stated, was really boring and too samey (though samey wasn't a problem for Helmet before that) for its own good.

Asiatic667
September 13th 2010


4648 Comments


I've only heard Strap It On and Aftertaste, but they're solid albums

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 13th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed. Basically their 1990s stuff is ace.

Taoboxer9
September 14th 2010


174 Comments


Strap It On & Meantime were/are killer. Betty, to me anyway, was hit or miss. Aftertaste & Size Matters were boring.Monochrome could have been killer if not for Page's "singing". I'll probably pick this up though just to give 'em one more time.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think Aftertaste and Size Matters are way better than people think. I actually enjoyed these albums a lot.

Taoboxer9
September 14th 2010


174 Comments


greg84 , Really ? To my ears both seem lackluster,kinda going threw the motions. I'll give them another listen to see if I missed anything.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2010


7433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Aftertaste is all about guitar-bass interplay, while Size Matters focuses more on melody not unlike this album.

accompliceofmydeath
September 20th 2010


4297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm about to go see if this is in my mailbox. If it isn't, I may go on a rampage.

Digging: Weekend Nachos - Unforgivable



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