Massive Attack
Heligoland


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andru Okenuf USER (31 Reviews)
March 24th, 2011 | 67 replies | 14,157 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Further proof that Massive Attack is the best at what it does

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

In 1991, Massive Attack released their first album, Blue Lines, a wild fusion of electronic music, hip-hop, dub, ‘70s soul and reggae that would later come to define the genre known as trip-hop. Following a more mellow Protection, they released Mezzanine, an album that influenced artists such as Radiohead, Zero 7 and Bjork. Alongside DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, Mezzanine is considered to be the quintessential trip-hop album, but 100th Window, their following release featuring only the band's frontman 3D, polarized fans. Some called it a nice addition to their catalog while others began dismissing the band as a one album wonder.

So despite inventing the genre and mastering their own craft, newly reunited 3D and Daddy G’s latest release, Heligoland, flew under the radar. Perhaps the lead single “Splitting the Atom,” a mediocre track and probably the weakest on the album, shouldn’t have been flaunted the way it was. Perhaps Massive Attack’s inability to recreate the raw energy of Mezzanine, a crutch that is particularly evident in the front half of this album, means they will never be relevant again. Or perhaps we’ve been too harsh.

“Psyche,” a short track featuring the vocals of Martina Topley-Bird, may be nodding at Thievery Corporation as they throw a mesmerizing beat that causes listeners to circle inside their own heads. But not only does this rival the very best the ESL records founders have ever recorded, it also manages to perfectly place itself as a centerpiece to the album. Topley-Bird is also featured on “Babel,” which, alongside “Pray for Rain” (voiced by Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio), crucially establishes a unique layered introduction that is thrown upon Mezzanine-worthy beats.

As “Paradise Circus” opens up the back half of the album, things really begin to take off. As powerful as it is minimalistic, Hope Sandoval’s voice perfectly matches the diverse percussion and sparse chords that form a gorgeous yet eerie marriage with the accompanying heart-wrenching strings. Before fully recovering, “Rush Minute” begins:

“I wanna be clean but I gotta get high
It’s good to be here so hard to come by”

Resonating most amongst those of us who have ventured deeper into narcotics, 3D’s words are given special attention as he displays his affliction and his escape gorgeously on stage for all to see.

Damon Albarn (Gorillaz and Blur) and Guy Garvey (Elbow) respectively lend voices to “Saturday come slow” and “Flat of the Blade,” two incredibly grating emotional pieces. While not for all moods, these are a couple of tracks that harness a lot of talent and bring very distinct and well-known male vocalists to levels of despair to which even they have not come close on their own.

However there are no criticisms to be made about the undersold “Atlas Air,” a gem that brings the album to a near perfect close. While at times this album marks a return to 3D and Daddy G’s hip-hop roots, “Atlas Air” has a sound owing more to “Idioteque” or Coil than anything done previously. This is the type of music played at parties with deep, dark and druggy bass.

In Addition to the guests already mentioned, the late Jerry Fuchs added drumming to the album while Adrian Utley (Portishead) played guitar on some of the tracks. Additionally, Elizabeth Fraser, Beth Orton, Mike Patton, Feist and Mos Def were among artists who hoped to collaborate with Massive Attack leading up to this album’s release. In short, it wouldn't be a stretch to say Massive Attack is a band that is still in very high demand.

Overall, Heligoland seems to be about moving forward through darkness, with electronic beats that continually power you through the bleak atmosphere which manifests. Through the use of so many talented vocalists, it’s able to ingeniously display a wide variety of different perspectives on the same realities. Perhaps the monochrome rainbow and dejected, almost faceless image on the cover say more about this album than words possibly could. True, this is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for those new to this style of music. But through and through, 3D, Daddy G and company continue to emerge with innovative and powerful new thoughts and ideas – a trend that isn’t likely to stop any time soon.



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user ratings (471)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Nick Butler EMERITUS (3.5)
Rarely has the phrase 'return to form' been more accurate....


Comments:Add a Comment 
aok
March 25th 2011



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Shout out to tater for giving this a once over. Sink into it guys -- be gentle but criticize anything
you think could be improved. And please tell me there's some Massive Attack fans out there somewhere!

Digging: Aphex Twin - Syro

balcaen
March 25th 2011



3183 Comments


review is pretty busy with a lot of name/title dropping, eh?
i had ignored this last year though, and you're making me want to check it out.

Rev
March 25th 2011



9403 Comments


This is good

aok
March 25th 2011



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i saw this go live and came up with a way better conclusion but sputnik / my slow internet / old computer are joining forces in not letting me edit : /

aok
March 25th 2011



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks man -- new one's up though.

yea, this is a name-dropping review. but oh man, do massive attack navigate all that talent effectively

Drsmith4
March 25th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

pretty decent review. really hated this album, though.

aok
March 25th 2011



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

dayum really? even atlas air (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMTcq4BlZag)? that track is so damn likeable

Drsmith4
March 25th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

just wasn't my cup of tea, I guess. but Mezzanine is pretty awesome, so I won't hate on the band.

henryjohnson
March 25th 2011



299 Comments


I need this

Drsmith4
March 25th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

wish you were here is the best album of all time.

Drsmith4
March 25th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

listening to mezzanine right now. great late night music.

Drsmith4
March 25th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

And I am quite in a state of drugginess at the moment.

aok
March 25th 2011



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

great any time music. i'm thinking this would be a 4.5 if mezzanine never existed

omnipanzer
March 25th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, decent review.

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

conradtao
Emeritus
March 25th 2011



2090 Comments


good review; i gave this a spin last year and seemed to recall it being rather dull and uninspired..

omnipanzer
March 25th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

/fist shake at Conrad

aok
March 25th 2011



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

any points of improvement guys? i think i may have talked too much about massive attack and not enough about heligoland but it was kinda hard to separate them for me.

(ps slick review on demdlike stare conrad)

WashboardSuds
March 25th 2011



4990 Comments


good review here, but in the first paragraph where you mention 3D he kind of lacks an introduction. like it would have read better if you said "featuring only the band's frontman 3D" or something of that nature.
despite my nitpicking, the rest of this review reads good. I pos'd btw

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2011



23801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been meaning to re download this, when I dl'ed it the first time, the files were all fucked up. I love Massive Attack. They are phucking phenomenal live.

WashboardSuds
March 25th 2011



4990 Comments


I've been meaning to check this out seeing as I loved Mezzanine



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