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
, both from the early 90s.
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.