by SarahDean USER (2 Reviews)
October 22nd, 2006 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Helmet’s latest release has been described as the band “going back to their roots”. It is full of great guitar work but at times the album gets a tad boring.

This album is one that grew on me after a few listens through but still isn’t really my cup of tea. Helmet’s latest effort, Monochrome, has been described as the band “going back to their roots”. For their first release on Warcon Enterprises, a leading post-hardcore/punk label, they reunited with co-producer Wharton Tiers. Tiers recorded the band’s first two releases, Strap it On and Meantime, both from the early 90s.

Monochrome was done entirely in analog in an attempt to help give it the band’s classic sound. According to Helmet founder and frontman Page Hamilton, it was recorded with the same tape machine the band used for their first two albums. This method gives the album a really raw, 90s grunge-metal sound.

The album starts off with the grungy ‘Swallowing Everything’. There are some good guitar riffs in the opening and throughout the track but I just can’t get into the vocals. They’re a bit too gritty for my liking and tend to sound a bit forced.

The following song, ‘Brand New’ is one of the best on the CD purely because of the awesome guitar work throughout the track. This would have made a great opening song for the album as it really captures your attention.

There are a couple of softer songs on the album including title track ‘Monochrome’, where Hamilton’s vocals seem less forced. They are softer and smoother and I actually quite like them. ‘Monochrome’ breaks up a couple of similar sounding songs and makes the album more diverse.

They seem to have lost it a bit in ‘Money Shot’. The whole song is just plain boring; the vocals, the instruments, the lyrics… However, they pick it up again with the next song, ‘Gone’, which has catchy riffs that recapture the album’s pace.

‘On Your Way Down’ sounds as though it could be aimed at former record company execs with lines such as, “Stumblin’ drunk, now, with authority / You’ve taken all that you can take from me” and “Now you’re losing all your friends / To surround yourself with all of your “yes” men”. At first I thought this song was a bit boring but after a few more listens, I actually quite enjoyed it.

I loved the fact that there were strong guitar solos in most of the songs on the album. They not only showed off the talent of the guitarists but also stopped the album from becoming too monotonous.

I also liked a lot of their lyrics including “Swarming now in duplicates / Self esteem consultant / They all think I'm unequipped / Cannot be exalted in ‘Swallowing Everything’.

Overall, the album has its boring moments and some songs have those annoying, forced vocals but excellent guitar work and the song ‘Brand New’ save the day.

user ratings (121)
other reviews of this album
Supercoolguy64 (3.5)
Helmet continues their revised career with a dirty and mean-spirited record...

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 2.5

im a HUGE helmet fan, theyre one of my favourite bands but this album is nothing special at all. pages voice is gone, the production values are pretty crappy, the idea of switching to tape was pretty stupid if you ask me. The album seems to be some sort of rehash of meantime, it just doesent work.

Now if you excuse me i must listen to Betty for the 10000th time

October 23rd 2006


Good review. I saw a little bit of this band at Warped Tour and was completely unimpressed.

October 23rd 2006


Were you stoned I saw them there and they were 10 times better than Helmet ever sounded on record.

October 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

A well executed, concise review! I'm a huge fan of Helmet, but this album pales in comparison to Meantime, Betty, and Aftertaste.

January 17th 2007


Album Rating: 1.5

Since there is no review of Aftertaste, it leads me to believe that it is not everyone's favorite. But I think it is their best work. Sonically as well as song wise, the band never sounded better than Aftertaste. Nice Review but I really think this album falls short of Helmet's potential. And I find the vocals on this record downright annoying.

December 20th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

As you said in your review, they were trying to go back to their roots, but yeah, it was boring and irrelevant. Page hamilton can't really scream like he used to on the old albums. I think the direction they went with in Aftertaste, and even Size Matters, is where they should stay or even evolve more in. This album was stale for Helmet.

February 18th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

This album is not as bad as the fans make it out to be, same goes for Size Matters. Both of those albums are much better than Aftertaste and Seeing Eye Dog, i'd even go as far as to say their on par with Betty, Strap it On and Meantime.

September 10th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

I honestly like this album a lot, Paige's voice does suck for most of it, but I like some of the cleaner vocals, such as in the title track. The riffs are good and remind me of classic Helmet, but this band just isn't the same without Stanier on drums either. Seems like most hate this, but I personally like it a lot more than Size Matters... that one just seemed like an attempt to get back on the radio (not that they ever really "broke through" like they should have anyway.) It's a decent album, but will never be able to complete with the first three. Second best of the reunion, after Seeing Eye Dog.

June 15th 2014


Album Rating: 1.5

wow, what's going on with the vocals. I liked Page's work on the other albums, on this one he's awful.

lol Seeing Eye Dog is even worse at times, is he trying to sound like a dying James Hetfield ? his clean vocals are still good though

July 28th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

This album is underrated, Yeah Page's vocals suck now but Swallowing Everything is a sweet track and the guitar work is pretty awesome throughout. Just gets a little monotonous and has a few songs that are more annoying than they are good.

September 25th 2014


Album Rating: 2.0

If brand new wasn't on here this would be completely worthless.

October 2nd 2014


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off



Digging: Jandek - Ready for the House

February 9th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

This album really needs more love. The first five tracks are fantastic. Classic Helmet material.

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