Helms Alee

Sleepwalking Sailors

Written by: PP on 03/03/2014 22:59:02

Helms Alee is a trio out of Seattle with an interesting, experimentalist sound that made them worthy for Hydra Head Records for previous releases. "Sleepwalking Sailors", their third full-length album, is basically what happens when you combine together influences from bands as varied as Kylesa, Torche, Tool, High On Fire, and Pelican into a single expression.

All three members of the trio contribute to the vocals throughout the record. Opener "Pleasure Center" could be how Tool would sound like if they played sludge metal with a hint of Torche in its dreamy melodies, led by muscular roars that also recall the likes of Kylesa and High On Fire in the process. Elsewhere, female vocalist Dana James provides softer singing that gives the record a truly art rock vibe; "Tumescence" is one such example where the thick roars transition into lighter moments all the while dense bass riffs vibrate strongly underneath. It's a slow, but purposeful tempo, one that leaves behind crushing heaviness thanks to an overall down-tuned approach to their instruments. "Pinniped" again toys with the pop element in the best Torche manner, recalling "Harmonicraft" in more ways than one with its clean vocals and treble-driven guitar work. The unclean roars offer contrast shortly after, and just like so many other songs on this record, it feels like there are multiple moods scattered within the same song: rough and aggressive vs soft and contemplative are the primary elements rivaling against each other.

That being said, despite its best moments as a whole Helms Alee sound somewhat monotonous; mostly because the roughened roars aren't particularly good compared to what we're used to hearing from the other bands mentioned in this review. They have moments of pure brilliance - "Pinniped" for instance - but many songs lack staying power and disappear too soon after you're done listening. Still, it's a decent effort but one that falls regrettably behind highlight reel releases by Torche, Kylesa, and the instrumental masters in Pelican.

Download: Pleasure Center, Pinniped
For the fans of: Kylesa, High On Fire, Torche, SubRosa, Pelican
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.02.2014
Sargent House

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