Sound: After the more than seven years of misical inactivity since their last full-length album, the New York band Helmet have finally released Size Matters, their fifth album. The band's music has got new traits during this period, which could be the consequence of the full replacement of the Helmet's rhythm section. At present together with the band's heart and soul -- founder, singer and guitarist Page Hamilton and lead guitarist Chris Traynor, known by playing in Orange 9mm and Bush -- the band have joined bass guitarist Frank Bello (Anthrax) and drummer John Tempesta (Rob Zombie, Testament.) It's a truly stellar line-up for afresh borned Helmet. Beside the new members the band found new more melodic sounding -- this is the most appreciable difference between Size Matters and Helmet's previous releases.
With the first listen it may seem that this album is deprived the heaviness and intensity -- representative features of Helmet's creation. But don't hurry, it's only the first impression. Actually, Size Matters merges Helmet trademark mid-tempo sound -- minimalist crushing riffs, taut rhythmic propulsion, and clusterbomb solos -- with a melodic sense. You can make certain that with the opening track "Smart." The next "Crashing Foreign Cars" is one of the fastest track on this album. Its agression and drive totally satisfy its title. And the drummer John Tempesta's job is particularly noteworthy in this song -- on the rest of Size Matters he is more restrained. "See You Dead" -- the single -- perhaps the darkest song with the killing chorus. It consists of abrupt and jerky verses and melodic choruses -- an illustrative example of the new Helmet sounding. In what follows, the album is a gradual alternation of the middle-range tempo songs with a slow-motion roar of the guitars with exception of sixth track "Unwound" -- basically, mainstream-influenced tune -- and the final "Last Breath" track with its energy and sort-of industrial insertions. All in all -- it is not ultimately strong album for the band of such level. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics on Size Matters are as usually dark and invective. In my opinion it's the inherent part of Helmet's music and the metal bands as a whole. The lyrics of "See You Dead," especially the chorus, make me think that Page Hamilton try his own songwriting skills in more dark and agressive direction. As to his singing skills -- he makes a good job on this album. There are some mixture of the rough and raucous vocals with the melodic and soft singing. // 10
Overall Impression: In spite of the fact that Helmet had no records for over 7 years, Size Matters shows that the band isn't standing at the same point, following alternative metal conception at the same time -- leisurely powerful metal with crushing low-tuned guitars, measured drumms and snarling vocals. Undoubtedly, this album was made in the spirit of '90s, but it should be noted that it's not debasing the Helmet's product at all. Quite the opposite -- Size Matters should rejoice the fans of true metal with its sincere and robust sounding. After all these years and some stylistic innovations this album sounds fresh in comparison with Helmet's previous releases, though not racy enough to regain the glory of the past. Welcome back, Helmet! // 8