Interscope Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, when I'm short of ideas for reviews, I walk down the aisles of the now-legendary Pierce Memorial Archives (make a left turn at Main Street) and allow myself to be drawn to certain titles. Sometimes I discover something I don't even remember buying, other times I realize why the item was hidden in the basement in the first place.

And then there are the times when I wonder why I hadn't been incessantly listening to an item and allowed it to collect dust with the rats (and Ratt, for that matter). Today's subject, Helmet's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Meantime, falls under that category.- since its unearthing, I haven't taken it out of the tape deck of my car.

The magic on this one is everywhere. Fronting the whole show is lead vocalist/guitarist Page Hamilton. One minute he's screaming his lungs out, the next minute he's singing in an almost introspective style. The dual guitar work of Hamilton and Peter Mengede takes your head and repeatedly slams it against the wall - pain never felt or sounded so good. John Stanier's drum work is simply unbelievable - I'm very impressed with his bass drum work - and Henry Bogdan's bass work provides the solid backbeat for the rest of the band.

From the opening notes of "In The Meantime," Hamilton and crew incite an aural attack that doesn't relent for the short - way too short - time that Meantime plays. The band's production work - with some recording work by Chicago's own Steve Albini - shows that no one knows the band's sound better than the members themselves. From the sharpness of the guitar chords to the incredible snare drum shots, this is one of the best-produced albums I think I've ever heard.

You need proof? Check out "Ironhead," where Hamilton works up a good head of lather and builds from a growl to an ear-piercing scream that sounds like he's shredded what's left of his vocal cords. In a word, incredible. The two singles, "Give It" and "Unsung," are more than adequate proof why Helmet gained a solid fan base in both the college alternative and the metal worlds.

I could go on and on and just fill this review with ass-kissing remarks about Meantime's power and the fact that there is not a weak spot on this album, but I'd rather let the music do the talking. At under 40 minutes in length, Helmet has probably created one of the best metal/alternative crossover albums ever recorded.

Helmet has gone through some personnel changes and a loss of critical acclaim since this album came out in 1992. But even if Meantime is their swansong, it's one hell of a treasure to leave behind.

Rating: A

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Interscope Records, and is used for informational purposes only.