Helms Alee
Noctiluca


4.3
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 3rd, 2019 | 49 replies


Release Date: 04/26/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Light through a murky prism.

The first thing that struck me about Noctiluca was its impressive creative chops. Helms Alee are not a band that holds back, with their abrasive blend of noise rock and post-hardcore – along with traces of sludge – concocting an experience that feels limitless. At various times this album reminds me of the latest Daughters record, relying on heavy, percussion-driven tempos which yield discordant and often flat-out messy atmospheres. Other times, it recalls Alice in Chains or even Soundgarden, launching into these gorgeous, sprawling choruses that sound like light beaming through a murky prism. It’s an interesting blend of aesthetics, but Noctiluca seems to have achieved a very listenable equilibrium. It feels like one of those rock albums with its own unique energy; the kind that is perhaps initially overlooked, but then revered when listeners realize just how special of a dynamic it possesses.

Drummer and lead vocalist Hozoji Margullis undoubtedly rules the roost on Noctiluca, her tattered, nasal vocals accenting the thunderous drumming patterns that she lays out as a foundation song after song. Bassist Dana James provides the ideal counterbalance, singing in a sweeter and more melodic pitch that gives the choruses some direction. Guitarist Ben Verellen occasionally growls and screams, lining the record with a fiercer edge that acts as a blade to cut through anything in the music’s path. Between these three talents, Helms Alee features a wide range of potential – and Noctiluca seems to capitalize on all of their skillsets at the same time without ever sounding crowded.

On an album as consistently varied as this, the experience never seems to lull or get its wheels stuck. It does, however, peak in grand fashion on a few occasions – particularly with the jaw-dropping melody on ‘Spider Jar’, where Verellen’s clean vocals absolutely shine. From a guitarist’s perspective, ‘Pleasure Torture’ steals the show with its set-afire-by-riffs second half, where Verellen showcases his shredding ability in impressive fashion. Opener ‘Interachnid’ is a whirling vortex of mind-blowing drumming, with Margullis basically coming unhinged and going crazy on her set for three minutes while varying tempos and time signatures on a whim. While these signify but a handful of bright spots, smaller variations of these types of moments are scattered about Noctiluca like a star-studded night sky, leaving no moment without a worthwhile vocal or instrumental contribution.

It’s frankly amazing how much the band fits within the confines of this record. Noctiluca demands attention on multiple fronts, and once it has you, it refuses to let go. It’s the kind of release that can hook you with a drum pattern or guitar riff alone, without even needing a melody to go along with it – although with Helms Alee you often get both or all three. With Noctiluca, you can really feel the band flexing its creative muscles, and the result is a delectable forty minutes of experimental heavy rock.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
May 3rd 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

The next installment in my series titled: "Sowing writes about a band he knows nothing about." But this album rules, so you should check it out.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

Hawks
May 3rd 2019


73729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well this needs to be taken out of the random review game now, sorry Dewi lmao.



Nice review as always bro. m/

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Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 3rd 2019


47290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You started at the wrong end of this bands discog !!!!!#

Digging: Lapalux - Amnioverse

Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 3rd 2019


47290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dont overlook it if you dug this so much

Relinquished
May 3rd 2019


42174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

awesome that they kept this going

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 3rd 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

There's always fault to be found when starting at a band's present discography; oh well. I am certainly interested in backtracking considering how good this album is.

Ashtiel
May 3rd 2019


809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i didn't actually think this was going to get a review but i was pleasantly surprised! you should definitely backtrack to Stillicide and Sleepwalking Sailors Sowing, both are great albums.

either way this thing along with the new Brutus album are easily among my favorites for the year. "Play Dead", "Lay Waste, Child", and "Pleasure Torture" are breathtaking and im always a huge sucker for ocean aesthetic or themes.



Digging: Norma Jean - All Hail

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 3rd 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Thanks Ashtiel! I'll be sure to go back when time permits. Right now Spider Jar and Pleasure Torture are my personal favorites, although (cliche alert) there's really not a dull moment to be found here.

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


1133 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it’s a little weird to see Hozoji described as lead vocalist. it’s not wrong, she definitely does take more of a lead role on this album, but that’s kind of a new development for the band. on previous albums, vocal duties were more egalitarian, skewing toward Ben as the lead. not that Hozoji as lead is bad, it’s just different from what i’m used to



anyway, cool review Sowing

WatchItExplode
May 3rd 2019


7299 Comments


I was a bit disappointed in this personally but glad they're around and people are digging it.

Digging: Great Grandpa - Four of Arrows

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


4902 Comments


Wow, didn't expect this to be a Sowing review. Curious to hear it, Stillicide had some great tunes.

Digging: Swans - Leaving Meaning

Hawks
May 3rd 2019


73729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Jamming now. m/

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


8743 Comments


Wish the vox weren't total butt smh, still pretty awesome regardless

Digging: Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q.

Sunnyvale
May 3rd 2019


1233 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Interesting album, jamming now

artiswar
May 3rd 2019


9731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lay Waste Child goes dummy hard

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 3rd 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Yeah didn't really mention that among my highlights but it's amazing. The whole album is pretty enthralling. It winds and twists and always manages to hold my interest.

artiswar
May 3rd 2019


9731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh, didn't even read the review. Gonna have to rectify that once I've jammed this a few more times.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 3rd 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Yeah review is short and sweet, I'm new to the band so not much to expound upon besides this batch of songs. Glad to see so many people enjoying this! I know this is outside my normal genre wheelhouse but I love it.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


16979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"well this needs to be taken out of the random review game now, sorry Dewi lmao"



I totally warg'd into Sowing and made him do it lol



Great review dude, I STILL haven't heard this in full, playing catch up with new releases yet.

Digging: The Stargazer Lilies - Occabot

artiswar
May 4th 2019


9731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm pretty new to the band myself, got into them with their previous album. I'm playing catchup on their older releases right now as well as rejaming this, I'm kind of obsessed



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