Review Summary: A step forward towards "Aftertaste", one step back from "Meantime"
When it comes to a cult band like Helmet, it is known that you will stay respectful to Page Hamilton's band, even if he do a "hit and miss" record, and that is the best description to their 5th album.
It has been a long time since Hamilton's band released "Aftertaste" the last album with the classic lineup (although in this particular album were reduced to only three members) and also, the last album that had their signature sound. Six years later, Page decided to awake Helmet from it's sleep and try to make another album and this is the result:
I'll try to be as sincere as I could about Page's decision to change their sound. First of all, it was the year 2004, and those were the glory days of the nu-metal genre. Where did the nu-metal thing came from" the answer is obvious: Helmet was a main for not saying THE influence.
Well, Page knew that he couldn't stay in his own roots in fear that the band would become a spent force due to the presence of much popular bands like Deftones or Korn, whom they took helmet's sound to create their own style.
The result of this great process gave birth to an album that, naturally evolved from the "quieter" tracks of aftertaste, plus a singer that was meeting his 40's.
Size Matters is a more personal record for Page as it was partially influenced by his break-up with his then-wife Wynona Ryder as oposed to their earlier albums where his lyrics were rather vague and ambiguous.
The album mixes a lot of styles from the vulnerable almost "power ballad" Unwound, to the brutal "Crashing Foreign Cars" (which it is one of the few tracks in the album whicht are reminiscent of the early period of the band), to the catchy "Throwing Punches". The lead single of this album was "See you dead" which retains some of the classic helmet sound, but in a more melodic and less angrier tone than their predecessors. The opening song "Smart" is also very reminiscent of the opening track of Aftertaste "Pure", which some would considered that it was a sign that "Helmet haven't lost their touch". One interesting aspect to remark (or critizice depending on your own perspective) is that this album doesn't contains odd time signatures as was the case in songs like "Insatiable" from Aftertaste, but the album still retains the "alternative" nature of the band, considering that Page is a clasically trained jazz guitar-player which makes him rather unique from his contemporary peers in terms of guitar skills and songwriting.
All in all, the album doesn't meet the standards of Helmet by any means and the main criticism goes for Hamilton who tried to move away from his roots replacing the growls of the first albums with a more conventional singing while retaining the signature sound of helmet. BUT if you enjoy listening to a much contemporary metal album, this is your album. However, I'd not recommend this album if you are a casual listener and you have never listened to Helmet; I'd rather recommend you to pick up one of the classic albums of the band (most notably Meantime, Betty or Aftertaste).
- See you dead
- Everybody loves you
- Throwing punches