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Helmet | Unsung | Best Of | review | metal | Lollipop
Unsung: The Best Of (1991-1997) (Interscope)
by Tim Den
A long overdue restrospective of one of the most influential heavy bands of the last decade, Unsung: The Best Of (1991-1997) chronicles the almighty Helmet through their full-lengths Strap it On, Meantime, and (the criminally underrated) Aftertaste, including "Just Another Victim" from the Judgement Night soundtrack but ignoring the Born Annoying material. Pretty standard selections here, mainly the first few tracks off of each album. A poorly-recorded soundtrack filler called "Disagreeable" is included, but not "Turned Out" (from Meantime)? C'mon, you gotta be kidding me!
Having all these "hits" together proves one thing: Helmet indeed are the forefathers of the nü metal genre. It's true, however much fans like me cannot imagine such artistry giving way to such rancid puke. Helmet were the first band to bypass all of metal and hardcore's speed and go straight to the breakdown, filling each song with nothing but. The succession of stop-and-gos opened the underground's eyes to the power of THE GROOVE, and - with the help of Quicksand - ushered in a new era of heavy music. Entombed were the first to follow, and within two years, everyone from Machine Head and Sepultura to Gorefest was tagging along. But does this mean that Helmet are the root of all evil? Far from it. Classically-trained jazz guitarist/band leader Page Hamilton always sculpted Helmet as part brutal hammerings, part dissonant artiness. For every groove there was also Sonic Youth/Naked City-style avant jazz; every 4/4 a perplexing time signature (the ends of "Unsung" and "Milquetoast"). Name another heavy band that, while playing live on 120 Minutes, stretched a song's ending indefinitely on just so its frontman could unscrew the back of his guitar and rewire the circuits to achieve a certain feedback. And though the disciples would emulate everything but the "intelligent" part of Helmet's formula, that's no fault of the band's. All they did was be the best fucking band they could be... and instill a generation's worth of influence.
With rumors of ressurection (with a new line-up, of course: The original members' internal fighting is the stuff of legend) on the horizon, there's no better way to get reacquainted with this giant than this here disc. You NEED it.