“… Helms Alee may have actually won the night for me. I’ve enjoyed this band recently, having been exposed to their latest album, Stillicide, and taking to it quite a lot. But, for as trippy and magical as that album is, their performance is even better. It felt like flying through space. The rising and falling song structures, the dark ambient setting… it was mesmerizing. I could have watched them play for hours.”
#9: Helms Alee have created a perfect fusion of big riffs, noise rock rumble and muscular indie rock filtered through a cloud of woozy reverb. Every track on this album is stuffed to the gills with choice riffs and klller…
After nearly a decade of existence, one can only assume that a band is either entering their sunset years or striding with such artistic strength and confidence that they are creating a whole new legacy for themselves. With Helms Alee…
Helms Alee have basically mastered the art of kitchen sink modern metal. Their sound takes influence from so many different styles (notably: stoner, shoegaze, prog, math rock, pop, and psych) to create something that shouldn’t sound so cohesive. They continue…
For those of you not in the know ‘helms alee’ is a nautical term used in sailing when coming about. The helmsman first signals the intent to come about by shouting, “Ready about!” When the crew responds, “Ready,” then the helmsman will signal that he or she is beginning to come about by shouting, “Helm’s alee!” As such it is the perfect moniker for the tempestuous squall and heave-ho of the Seattle sludge/noise rock trio who take their name from the term.
The group recently released their fourth album eerily titled Stillicide via Sargent House. An at times murky, bruising and battering set, the record also finds ample room for off kilter melody and some rather enormous choruses.
We had the chance to have a chin wag with the group about the ongoing seafaring theme in their music, touring with (the) Melvins, and indoor combat style laser tag.
Overblown: Your new album is called Stillicide. Where did the album title come from?
Helms Alee: Stillicide is drops of water or the sound of drops of water. We just liked the imagery of that very dark sounding word. The record artwork ended up being the idea of this sort of minute thing, a drop of water, causing something catastrophic like a full scale tidal wave.
O: This is your fourth album together. Do you do anything to keep the writing and recording process fresh?
HA: We just keep plugging away, practicing real regularly, half to work on things, but as much to just kick it. We always have an abundance of new song ideas that come out of that, it’s just wading through them for keepers. But we don’t try to jostle the approach to make things new again. We’re comfy with our process. After 10 years we’re still taking the same approach.
The latest Helms Alee release, Stillicide, was an impressive feat by itself. In person, the tracks are even more massive. As they played the final seconds of “Galloping Mind Fuk” to end their set, it was clear that whether live or recorded, they play with more force than many of their peers. Hozoji Margullis is, to say the least, a phenom behind the drums. Dana Jones brings a concrete, unshakable foundation with her bass. And then there’s Ben Verellen, whose playing and vocals are abrasive, intense and perfectly suited to Helms. Their aquatic inspirations were evident as they rolled through songs with the strength of a hurricane tidal surge.
Russian Circles are a bucket-list band. As expansive as their records are, the three create an even larger landscape in person. From Station to their recent Guidance, Brian Cook, Mike Sullivan and Dave Turncrantz collected ten tracks from their discography and stretched them into what seemed like hours and hours. The rises and falls and building then stalling of their songs created a story that took you from stillness to the usual light headbang. The voices of each instrument were highlighted in a live setting so that they each contributed equally to the conversation. Even on an album, the individuality that each person brings isn’t so distinct.
Arriving at the venue on quite a wet evening, concert goers took a moment to dry off from the rain and grab a refreshing drink at the bar prior to the opening set of Helms Alee. Hailing from Seattle, Washington…
Helms Alee will be rocking out at The Complex in Glendale Oct. 12, offering up their signature blend of sludgy genre-bending hard rock. Their new album, Stillicide, has been widely lauded as their most hooky and melodic effort to date, a more accessible blend of the beauty and brutality that has become their calling card.
In the midst of touring with The Melvins, Ben Verellen (Helms Alee’s guitarist, singer, and Verellen Amplifiers founder) caught up with Concert Guide Live, to talk about the new album, nervous poops, and why metal bands are so darn sweet.
CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: How’s The Melvins tour been so far? BEN VERELLEN: So fun! This is the longest trip we’ve done, so I think we were all a little apprehensive about how we were going to feel at this stage, smack in the middle of it, but everyone seems in good spirits. Nothing negative to report.
CGL: Jody Stephens gave you guys a tour of Ardent Studios in Memphis. What was that like? BV: What the hell, right?! It was crazy. They reached out and asked if we wanted to come check out the studio. We had no idea. It wasn’t until we showed up that the receptionist was like, “Oh yeah, Jody Stephens from Big Star is going to be doing the tour for you.” He popped out and introduced himself. Dana [James] is probably the most familiar with Big Star, so she was really trying to contain her excitement about hanging out with that guy.
This past weekend, I went to Detroit to see Sargent House label mates Russian Circles and Helms Alee in concert. Both bands were on tour celebrating new albums with the former acting as the headliner. I’ve written about my love…