Seattle band Helms Alee's new album, "Weatherhead," is a winner, more metal-literate than metal-focused, and beautiful, to boot — heavy titanium? Other new releases this week include neo-soul singer Jill Scott's "The Light of the Sun"; Bon Iver's eponymous album on Jagjaguwar; and venerable Los Angeles jazz bandleader Gerald Wilson's homage to Chicago, "Legacy."
Helms Alee, ‘Weatherhead’ (Hydra Head)
Seattle band Helms Alee’s new album, “Weatherhead,” is a winner: heavy music for people craving something beautiful but easily turned off by machismo.
It’s all very guitar-focused, following from singer/guitarist Ben Verellen owning a company that makes amps. But if you didn’t know he was in the biz, you’d still hear that extra crunch and seethe on “Elbow Grease,” that extra effort to make the bass guitar raw and meaty.
The album has moments of repetitive electric guitar fury (“Ripper No Lube”) and drums passing over your head like a hundred hoofs (the title track). But the trio proves itself more metal-literate than metal-focused, nailing mystical acoustic folk music (“Anemone of the World”), shoegaze rock (“Pig Pile”) and its own brand of muscular dream-pop (“Music Box”).
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“Weatherhead” keeps sliding between styles, and the record is more fun for that. In the end, you stop trying to figure out songs like “Pretty as Pie” and “Revel!” and just give in to their hypnotizing, expansive sound. And that’s when Helms Alee has you.
Other new releases
Jill Scott, “The Light of the Sun” (Blues Babe)
Bon Iver, “Bon Iver” (Jagjaguwar)
Gerald Wilson, “Legacy” (Mack Avenue)