Helms Alee: Sleepwalking Sailors – album review
Helms Alee – Sleepwalking Sailors (Sargent House)
CD/ LP/ DL
The excellent Helms Alee recently released their latest album Sleepwalking Sailors, Louder Than Wars Adrian Bloxham thinks it’s an alternative rock classic.
This is a sound I haven’t heard for a long time. I think we used to call it Alternative, whatever that meant. Hearing this takes me to when I first heard the Pumpkins or Janes Addiction, the giants of alternative rock or alt-rock or whatever you want to throw at it. The sound is huge, wide open and expansive. It pulls you in and takes you over – I would love to see this bunch live. This has the potential to be absolutely massive, it’s that good.
The cover shows a figure in the sea swimming towards a light, which is of course a lure for a massive horrible sea monster. Helms Alee spelt out in its needle like teeth. This record puts you under water in the sound, it envelops you and takes you away.
The music is led and formed around Hozoji’s massive drum sounds on every track, they keep everything together and are the bones to this album. Dana’s bass circles the drums and makes the sound full and rich. Ben’s guitars complete the noise, loud or strangely quiet they will get inside you and make you listen. The combination of the three together is quite simply breathtaking.
The music is loud and heavy but a long way from Metal. It’s got a subtlety and grace as it ebbs and flows like the tides. Its strangely emotive that grows as the vocals change from the masculine growl and singing to the feminine calm. Individual tracks wash over and around you, my favourites are ‘Pleasure Centre’ with it’s slow and steady rise and ‘Slow Beef’ with it’s fuzzed out Mariachi introduction that just grows and gets heavier and heavier.
It’s not an album for a quiet evening in, it’s a put it on and make the neighbours windows rattle record, it is a contradiction in that it isn’t metal and it isn’t punk and it isn’t anything else. Listening to it will tell you what it is, a definite contender for album of the year.
All words by Adrian Bloxham. More work by Adrian on Louder Than War can be found here.