Skip to main content

"Surprisingly moist" - HELMET LIVE REVIEW, 1995 Melody Maker




HELMET/KERBDOG
WULFRUN HALL, WOLVERHAMPTON
GRUNGE is dead? Oh grow up, for f**k’s sake. Journos who offer up post-structural cockamamie with one hand still have the other down their thermals wanking over their youth, fantasising the centre of a pop they can no longer find. “Grunge Is Dead” or “Britpop Is Back” they shout from pages covered in exclamation marks and super soaraway headlines, with their simplifying desire to pin down pop to a fixed trend, to tie it in with demographics or history rather than let it create its own messed-up mythology. The pop world that bounced you from cradle to classroom to club has gone for good – GET OVER IT! Grunge didn’t die with Kurt, it’s just undergoing therapy.
   So in London, the post-Nirvana consensus may be crumbling but our cheap talk is broken, BLAMMO, by the 12-year old kids motormouthing in soprano, sharing cigarettes, wide-eyed and loving every minute, by the sweat that bullets my eyes with every crushing beat. We don’t need to patronise the fans, they don’t need their scenes created for them. Go with the flow in all directions.
   Avoid this one though. Kerbdog are still young, still have one ace song (“End Of Green”) and are still f***ing dreadful. ET has said that people are too analytical and snobbish about bands like this, and should just be swept away by the adrenaline blast. Believe me, I’d love that to happen here, to let my body take control, flip out and flop wads all over the shop, but Kerbdog’s sluggish dynamics, unmemorable riffs and fundamental lack of chunder leave me frustrated and cold. They don’t rock, and surely that’s the least we can expect? Chinese burns all round.
   Helmet have never been my cup of lard before. I’ve always seen them as the worst kind of overpaid dirge-merchants from hell. No fun. The new album changed all that. T Ray’s production has beefed up the rhythm section until they achieve a kind of airborne mass, and the lose none of this irresistible punch and phatness live. “Biscuits For smut” humps over a coiled riff so good you’re amazed no one’s come out with it before: then you hear a similarity to PE’s ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ and “Funky Dollar Bill” and you admire the esteemed company. “Wilmas Rainbow” is beautifully clipped and precise, with all their maxi-shread heaviosity pedals on red-alert while “Tic” and “Rollo” are state-of-the-arsequake crunchy metal with extra Brotzmaan/Band Of Susans frazzle to send the moshpit doolally on songs they’ve never heard before. The rest of the set I don’t recognise and don’t really want to but the sound is always startlingly clear, chrome and glass shining through the encrusted mud I was expecting.
   They’re not much to look at and Helmet should ditch the old stuff and further explore that rubber-band bass, buy a wah wah and get some Big Chief down them, but they’re already an unexpected groovy treat and once they truly get on the good foot they could be some kinda awesome.
   Surprisingly moist.
NEIL KULKARNI 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A POP DAYDREAM PART I: THINNING THE HERD.

This was my dream. And it was so vivid it really happened. 
I hired a van. The expense was a concern but I needed the capacity. First the long drive north to Middlesborough. I knew he'd be at home, visiting relatives. Made sure my HeadBag was packed. Blindfolds and ballgags. Rope. Some starved, stroppy badgers. Maxi-pack of chloroform-seeped bogroll from Costco. Masking tape. As I eased onto the M1 I told myself again the story of how it was developed from the need for waterproof ammunition casings in WWII. I had to, I was bored, and it's a long schlep up to 'boro. Idly, after securing a mortgage for a bacon roll at Tibshelf, I had an argument with my other personality about whether Middlesborough was in North Yorkshire, County Durham or Teeside. 
Nothing got resolved. A plain-clothes officer pulled me off in the hardshoulder near Malton and issued stern words about punching myself while driving. No hilarity did ensue. I needed to focus. This was a serious business. By noo…

MANIC STREET PREACHERS, ASTORIA, LONDON, 1994, LIVE REVIEW, MELODY MAKER

(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…

The F.U.N.K 2017 End Of Year Lists Part 1 - Metal

Metal, like hip hop, has had a fucking great 2017. Like hip hop its manifold joys can mainly be found away from the mainstream, certainly light-years distant from the kinds of boybands-with-guitars that seemingly dominate Kerrang-style metal culture. So most of my favourite metal from this year has come from slightly off the beaten track (so much great stuff coming out of Italy this year), much of it found via Bandcamp and those metal bloggers who are so ably covering the anti-scene at the moment. 

Needs saying actually - metal, like hip hop, is one area of music where blogging and word-of-mouth is all the guidance I need anymore - haven't been NEAR a metal mag this year and don't feel like I've missed anything. The bloggers care, and know their stuff so thanks to Angry Metal Guy and Cvlt Nation  and No Clean Singing and Heavy Blog Is Heavy  and The Sludgelord for keeping me vaguely in touch with the best metal in 2017, they've been invaluable. 

These are the metal/doom…