Kickstand Productions Presents
Helms Alee, Space Blood
2011 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL, 60647
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 17 and over
There was a buzz about Mutoid Man before they ever even took the stage. Like many 'members-of' projects, there was an automatic interest in what heady metal luminaries Steve Brodsky (Cave In) and Ben Koller (Converge, All Pigs Must Die) were working on in their tiny Brooklyn practice space. By the time they played their first show in the fall of 2013, their debut EP was already recorded and off at the vinyl pressing plant. And while many side projects maintain a brief lifespan by piquing the interest of their primary bands' fans, Mutoid Man achieved the rare feat of not only holding that interest, but also drawing in a new audience from outside their established circles. Given a spin of their Helium Head 12" or a glimpse of their rare live performance, it's no wonder that Brodsky and Koller were able to ascend beyond their side-project novelty status. This is no self-indulgent sonic experiment, no tepid throwaway- track recycling project, no musical 180° into cringe-worthy territory. Instead, Mutoid Man offers up the best of Brodsky and Koller's respective worlds. Brodsky distills the melodicism and metallurgy of Cave In into a concentrated elixir of frantic fretboard work, big riffs, and undeniable vocal hooks. Koller continues to batter his drums with unmatched force and dexterity. With the recruitment of bassist Nick Cageao and his driving low-end growl, Mutoid Man quickly established themselves as one of the dominant new power trios in the world of heavy music.
While Helium Head wasn't a severe sonic departure from its makers' previous endeavors, it still offered up a kind of frenzied excitement and ecstatic energy that was new territory for its members. With their debut full-length, Bleeder, Mutoid Man proves that the euphoric fury of their EP was no fluke. Recorded by Kurt Ballou at God City Studios, Bleeder builds upon the triumphant barrage of Helium Head with bigger production, increased ferocity, and the bolstered confidence from writing as a three-piece unit. The band storms out of the gate with "Bridgeburner", a galloping blitzkrieg of NWOBHM guitar leads, hardcore tempos, and a pummeling climax of bottom-heavy riffage. The album continues on like a gluttonous orgy of every metal indulgence the band has held since junior high school. It's as if there was an amalgam of all these realms of heavy rock music that hadn't yet been attempted, and Mutoid Man have nailed it with such precision that it comes across like a grand epiphany. "Reptilian Soul" and "Sweet Ivy" marry the warped guitar lines of the Hydra Head catalog to balls-to-the-wall rock choruses; "1000 Mile Stare" and "Soft Spot In My Skull" pair Robert Fripp-level prog shredding against a virulent strain of thrash metal; "Surveillance" and "Deadlock" showcase Koller's lightning-fast blast beats against thunderous drop-tuned riffs; "Dead Dreams" beefs up sludge metal to cataclysmic proportions. By the time the band reaches the closing track "Bleeder", they've blown through so many breeds of maleficence that they can effortlessly jump between power-metal balladry, apocalyptic doom, and Dio-era Sabbath.
Mutoid Man was initially meant to be an exercise in flexing the creative chops outside of the members' other projects. But if Helium Head proved that this musical diversion was serious business, Bleeder confirms that Mutoid Man are an imposing force regardless of their pedigree. Written in concentrated flurries between their other musical duties, Bleeder exudes the short bursts of manic energy that typified their creative process. There is no time to sit and ponder the bigger picture, no reason to search for subtlety—once the album launches into the first riff of "Bridgeburner", there is no surrender, no apologies, and no relenting until the final crash and chug of the closing title track. Clocking in at just under half-an-hour, Bleeder seizes upon the same concentrated ferocity of classics like Reign In Blood. And with songs as good as these, Bleeder is sure to become a classic in its own right.
Written by - Brian Cook
Helms Alee’s music is exactly the sort of mutant, fantastic hybrid that used to only occasionally erupt out of small, isolated scenes, uninformed by trends of the day — instead inspired by the band’s own collective contributions. The Seattle trio’s unique amalgam of metal, art rock, pop and punk is charmingly reminiscent of the fertile creativity that groups once had before the Internet seemed to instruct bands to only copy one another. Helms Alee’s third album, Sleepwalking Sailors sounds like many styles combined into one, and none of it concerned with any notion other than creating vital, urgent and uniquely characteristic music.
Bassist/vocalist Dana James, drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis and guitarist/vocalist Ben Verellen combine a vast array of ideas within a single song, while still sounding entirely cohesive. Their songs are undeniably heavy, but also freely roaming through icy post-punk and warm melodic haze at any given moment. Any given song can be pummeling one moment and then subtly shift into triply harmonies without the listener even realizing what has happened.
“The weird thing about it,” Verellen muses, “is that we’ve got three different people contributing lyrics, parts and melodies to each song. So, they end up being disjointed by our individual input. We spent 3-1/2 years writing the songs for this album, so it’s thematically all over the place.”
Sleepwalking Sailors was recorded with engineer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) in Seattle, with intentionally built-in limitations. “We recorded the album to tape in order to confine ourselves from ProTools refining every detail. We ended up with something that sounds really big, but also a bit more aggressive.” Helms Alee’s previous album Weatherhead was released in 2011 to much acclaim by their longtime label HydraHead just before it went under. Undaunted, and as a testament to the band’s strong fan base, Helms Alee originally crowdfunded Sleepwalking Sailors, eventually raising an impressive recording budget. Upon hearing Common’s early mixes, Sargent House quickly offered to bring the band onto their management roster and release the new album. Throughout the course of the album’s creation, the band’s independent aesthetic becomes clear: a dedication to truly representing themselves, regardless of trends and outside influence.
Album opener “Pleasure Center” kicks off with churning riffs and staccato drums that repeat and morph in a constant build that’s equal parts Gang Of Four as it is early Soundgarden. The slithering and perfectly meshed distorted rattle of James’ bass with Verellen’s climbing, chiming single notes on “Tumescence” lead off with Neurosis style heft, but soon give way to compelling minor-key vocal harmonies laid over the proceedings. Elsewhere, James’ and Matheson-Margullis’ even more pop-hook leaning vocal harmonies lend a transcendence to the proceedings. “Pinniped” pits near chamber-pop group vocal harmonies against screaming, wailing guitar blasts and thumping tom drum beats. Throughout the album, Helms Alee prove that their unique creative spark is its greatest asset in creating incisive and insightful music.
Sleepwalking Sailors will be released everywhere worldwide on LP, CD and download on February 11th, 2014 via Sargent House.
A 2 piece theatrical, instrumental math rock band from Chicago with comparisons to Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job & Don Caballero.
$15.00 - $18.00
Tickets Available at the Door