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Album Review: Helpless - 'Debt'

25 August 2017 | 7:56 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Short, heavy & dissonant.

More Helpless More Helpless

The first time that I ever listened to ‘Debt’, the mental upcoming album from Helpless, I was going over and editing a few other articles. Then, after barely 15 minutes, I wanted to check out what song I was up to in the tracklisting, so I flicked back over to my iTunes library and fuckin' blimey – I was on the LP's second to last song, 'Manufacturing Consent'.

With just ten brutal tracks and in the short space of 20 minutes, Helpless collate and deliver the best parts of today's ever-popular, crusty metallic hardcore style. A very similar sound to the one that's been championed this decade by the likes of NailsHarm's WayJesus Piece, Australian locals such as Cursed Earth and Justice For The Damned, as well as Helpless's own label mates, the glorious Employed To Serve. That being said, you'll also find more subtle elements of death and black metal here, as well as some dark and noisy tributes to the likes of Give Up And DieGaza, old-school Norma Jean, as well as some heavy Coalesce and Converge worship for good measure. Considering that I really enjoy the music of nine out of those eleven bands that I just mentioned, 'Debt' feels almost tailor made for me and my own personal tastes. And I ain't complaining!

Now, instead of opting for a drawn-out, long slog of a full-length, this Plymouth trio instead aims for the jugular with 'Debt' with their two sole objectives being succinct brevity as well as pure and utter sonic destruction. It's nothing new for this style, sure - as the very existence of those aforementioned bands proves - but I'll be damned if Helpless don't do it well! With heavily dissonant and overly distorted guitars bearing both panic-stricken chords and crushing moments of grumbly drone, a pounding drum performance that race the song's here along at a bastardly pace, ludicrously heavy and churning bass rumbles, and with the gravely, rabid vocals of frontman Dan CouchHelpless create an equally menacing and foreboding musical environment. One that just simply vomits sheer blunt force trauma upon the listener.

The group wastes zero time fucking around as jagged drum fills and Dillinger Escape Plan-like riffs lash out on the crazed intro of 'Worth', catapulting this opening song on its remaining minute and a half journey through hell. 'Out Of Commission' dares to (slightly) ease up on the pace but maintains all of the band's angular riffs as well as their solid, skull battering wall-of-sound approach. From there, 'Debt' essentially becomes a scathing, no-holds-barred hardcore assault, one that has very few respites.

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'Grief Vultures', the blisteringly short 'Sinkhole', the mid-album knock out 'Sertraline', and the previously mentioned 'Manufacturing Consent' show-off consistently fast riffs and rhythms and are all straight to the point in their evil intent; with little breathing room to be had. Whereas other cuts like 'Moral Bankruptcy', 'Weightless Prayers' and the mammoth and surprisingly dynamic closer of 'Denied Scale' (which drags just over the five-minute mark) all display stop-start moments, slightly slower tempo's at times, and showcase the group's sludgier influences that break up the near-unrelenting pace of this intense record. The latter also has what is the quietest part of the entire release - bar using actual silence for added impact - and that's a short-lived percussion section about two-thirds of the way through 'Denied Scale', but one that's soon obliterated by another hectic dose of slamming riffs, crunchy drum grooves, and gritty, overbearing bass lines creating one massive finale.

Yet despite whatever slightly differing avenue Helpless choose to venture down in terms of structure and dynamics on this record, it's all done very well. And most importantly of all, it remains heavy as almighty fuck!

Who says that I don't do shorter reviews anymore? Everyone, that's who. Anyway, Helpless's debut LP, 'Debt', is an incredibly abrasive and heavy listen; the very kind that you didn't know you needed in your life until now. Genuinely helpless these guys are not!

1. Worth

2. Out Of Commission

3. Greif Vultures

4. Moral Bankruptcy

5. Sertraline

6. Weightless Prayers

7. Ceremony Of Innocence

8. Sinkhole

9. Manufactured Consent

10. Denied Sale

'Debt' is out September 8th via Holy Roar Records. Get it here or else...