Sounds From The Underground: Helpless – Debt Review
*Sounds From The Underground*
Label: Holy Roar
Genre: Grindcore, Hardcore
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: 8th September, 2017
Violence is all around us. It’s not a case of whether we like it or not or if we search for it or do not, it is there. Aside from witnessing it in our own lives we see it on the news, on social media, in film and on our games consoles and as a result it appears almost unavoidable. The key to maintaining your violent and aggressive tendencies is to channel all of that energy in to something positive. Well, that is the case for most people… but not for the band Helpless. There is nothing positive in the music created by this band of pissed off and fired up gentlemen from the south western port city of Plymouth, England and that is absolutely fine by me because the level of quality here is immeasurable. This music is miserable, it is aggressive and it is blunt. There is no room for the faint of heart here and if you find yourself sitting on the fence about whether you like your music dangerous and gritty then turn back now, you are not welcome here.
These boys are essentially arms dealers. They equip people with the means to destroy others with their brutal take on Metal music. It seems almost impossible to listen to music this intense and aggressive without wanting to get yourself into the nearest mosh pit and destroy everything in your path and in that is where their brilliance lies. The fact that their music boasts this kind of power means that they are creating something truly special when so many groups are toing the line of safety Helpless throw all caution to the wind and create a debut release that is both feral and dangerous.
The album opener ‘Worth’ kicks off proceedings with an impressive drum roll/fill before catapulting the listener in to an onslaught of frantic riffs, machine gun percussion and rumbling bass lines that give no quarter whatsoever. The guitar tone created by Dan Couch is up there with the darkest and dirtiest around, the riffs cut through your ear drum like a chainsaw and mould in perfectly with the thunderous bass guitar of Steve Waldron and merciless barrage of blast beats and rhythmic shifts from drummer Russell ‘Rusty’ Cleave (you may recognise him as the former drummer of the now defunct Brotherhood Of The Lake). This early onslaught puts you on the back foot immediately, reeling from the sheer power that is concentrated into such a brief strike of metallic fury and there is no sign of respite.
The third track on this album ‘Greif Vultures’ is a real thing of brilliance. The sheer maniacal delivery and furious savagery that is poured out through the instruments is so impressive that you can not help but take a step back and admire what these three men are sonically capable of. If you are a fan of Converge at their rawest (think ‘Jane Doe’ or ‘You Fail Me’ era brilliance) then you are going to love sinking your teeth into this succulent chunk of Metalcore madness. The vocal performance here is among the finest on this collection of songs, with the pitch shifting from guttural, gut-shaking lows to shrill, ear-piercing highs at the drop of a hat. The only downfall of this track and indeed many of the other ones on this album is that they feel all too brief. However, on the flipside of this there is always the chance that if you were to needlessly drag the songs out for longer than necessary you would be sacrificing some of their impact and effect.
In the sixth round six this heavyweight release the lads decide to change their game and come out swinging with a different approach. ‘Weightless Prayers’ is just a doom and gloom as it sounds and this is portrayed instantly in the tone and delivery of the instrumentation with the booming drums, low-tuned, lumbering stringed instruments and the trademark distorted roar of the vocals all add to the severe nature and overall crushing heaviness of this tune. The pace shifts effortlessly between a doom-inspired trudging rhythm to a break neck speed, all-out melee of vicious drumming and audible rioting. When it gets to the mid-way point of this track you’d best clear the floor at the shows because there is every chance that you will get your face redesigned for you if you are in the pit at the wrong time for this one.
There are plenty of bands out there that create heavy music in many different ways. Unfortunately there are a lot of bands that get a lot of credit for creating music that is in no way, shape or for original. The over-the-top method of crimping and cutting their tracks and auto-tuning the choruses, polishing the overall production and multi-layering over and over again really only serves to sterilise the genre over and over again (I realise how pompous and narrow minded I sound here and honestly, I’m ok with it… you’ve read this far so you may as well continue to the end). The other half of this spectrum is the bands that are creating some truly unique takes on the heavy and abrasive music that we all love. Helpless are a member of the latter side. The fact that they are happy to not overthink their music and let the sheer aggressive nature of the sounds that they create speak for themselves is a breath of fresh air and if this collection of short, calculated strikes of modern day metal is what they have brought together for their DEBUT full length then the future is incredibly bright for them.
With ‘Debt’ I may have just found my album of the year. Unhinged, undiluted brilliance.
2. Out Of Commission
3. Greif Vultures
4. Moral Bankruptcy
6. Weightless Prayers
7. Ceremony Of Innocence
9. Manufactured Consent
10. Denied Sale
Total Playing Time: 21:40
Links to the band: