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Size Matters

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Album Review

The resurrected Helmet pits a growlier Page Hamilton against a new rhythm section, but that's about the only change. Size Matters stutters just like the old days, and favors skewed melodies that, even if they're a little slower or more layered, still sound like New York City in 1990. "Crashing Foreign Cars," for example, could be part two of Strap It On's "Blacktop." There's Hamilton-branded guitar freakery here — check the bleating car horn intro to "Enemies" — and opener "Smart" is as economic as metal derivation is going to get in the new millennium, when the genre's dominated by bombast and ridiculously compressed electric guitars. (Ex-Rob Zombie drummer John Tempesta gets credit for his precision snare and deliberate pacing.) And yet, despite its throwback sound, Size Matters starts to run together. Middle-range tempos emphasize the slow-motion roar of Hamilton's guitar, but tracks like "Drug Lord" and "Unwound" also begin to plod at that meter. It's like they lose interest after introducing the huge part. "Everybody Loves You" is stronger, and "Last Breath"'s crunch and altered tempos are knife sharp and cool. "Speak and Spell" is another highlight. Size Matters emphasizes for the bloated alt-metal elite what it means to have craft and a little self-control. It isn't necessarily memorable, but as an exercise in measured, even artistic rage, it's classic Hamilton.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Like many influential bands, Helmet were born out of an unusual set of influences. Oregon-born guitarist and founder Page Hamilton had actually moved to New York City to study jazz, but found inspiration in the late '80s through post-punk acts Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, and Big Black, and envisioned a group that combined then-unusual tunings (particularly dropped D) with uneven and jazz-like time signatures and harmonies. The result was Helmet, the East Coast's answer to Seattle's then-underground...
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Size Matters, Helmet
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