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Meantime - * * *

To die unsung would really bring you down,
Although wet eyes would never suit you
Walk through no archetypal suicide,
To Die young is far too boring these days

- Unsung

This disc starts off very good and then goes downhill quickly from there. In The Meantime is an incredible song with abrasive lyrics ("earth tone suits you, so get out a smile, if I could hold your feet down, get to know for a while"). The guitar is an impressive lesson in power chords and aggressive delivery. Page Hamiltonís vocal style is right on time, combining biting cynicism and hardcore aggression with brutal honesty. After such a promising beginning unfortunately the rest of this disc is pretty fucking boring. A lot of the rest of the songs sound so similar that there is really no point in listening to all of them. Hamilton basically has 2 vocal styles which he uses and never combines well. One is an aggressive hardcore shouting match (In The Meantime). The other is harmonic and crisp with a real industrial metal ambience to it (Unsung). The lyrics are well-written and thought out, especially on Unsung. Unfortunately the music doesn't offer the same innovation or clarity of purpose. The rest of the band either just plays along to what Hamilton is doing, or goes off in another direction making the music a chaotic mess. Itís unfortunate that Unsung became the MTV staple for this band, because it is the best song on the disc. Unsung, especially Hamilton's contribution of guitar and vocals, shows what this band is capable of when it all comes together. The stop and start bludgeon of power chords, the propulsive drum fills, the end part where the chord progression sounds like an industrial machine shifting gears. The song itself makes the rest of the CD a disappointment. There is no doubt that Helmet is more talented than 90% of the bands out there today. Hamilton is an incredible guitarist and obviously knows a great deal about music, but their repetitiveness is too often mediocre and boring. The disc is worth owning, if nothing else for the two songs mentioned above, and a handful of other good tracks like FBLA II and Ironhead. Helmet is a good band, very good at what they do but they donít have the charisma to make it interesting. That is what makes Meantime so disappointing and so incredibly brilliant at the same time. A hard combination to overcome. Earth tone doesn't suit you Hamilton.

* * *

Reviewed: March, 1998

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