October’s issue of Terrorizer Magazine features the ‘200 Essential Albums’ article, for which I was asked to write about one of my favourite albums of all time. ‘Meantime’ by Helmet. Here’s my contribution, in all it’s un-edited glory!
As a 15-year-old regional British metaller, Helmet’s ‘Meantime’ hit me like a breath of fresh, groove-drenched air. It was 1992 and via a childhood trajectory of classic rock (thanks Dad) to 90’s heavy/extreme metal I became irreversibly affected by Page Hamilton and co.’s brand of chunky Sabbathness by way of NYC’s noise rock stable. The early nineties was a turning point for me, as a heavy music lover who saw mates drop like flies and lap up the whole Grunge explosion like eager puppies. Friends getting sappy girlfriends and swapping their Master Of Puppets long sleeve and combats for floppy hats and that Nirvana shirt made me more determined to ‘stay heavy’ than ever. An American exchange student at school sent me the double whammy of Meantime and Strap It On on either side of a TDK 90 cassette. From the chaotic intro to the salivatingly minimal verse of ‘In The Meantime’, Helmet happy-slapped me before taking me down a rhythmic subway journey through New York’s underbelly. John Stanier was the engine, with his pile-driving drumming and whip-crack tight snare, while Mengede and Bogdan’s rhythm guitar and bass coalition churned out riffs to level Manhattan. Hamilton was the conductor of course, melding Jazz trained guitar chops with no-wave noise pedigree, earned during his time in Band Of Susans. It was heavy metal like I’d never heard before, and a welcome addition to my collection, sitting confidently alongside Kill ‘Em All, Arise and A Vulgar Display Of Power. Along with debuts the following year from Tool, Clutch, Quicksand and Fudge Tunnel’s second movement Creep Diets my only response to this wave of revolutionary guitar music was to strap mine on and get riffing. Thanks Helmet, thanks early nineties – we love you.