Friday, December 16, 2011

album review : "XI IX XI" by HELMUT

This 2nd album by the switz band HELMUT has been one of my greatest surprises from the past weeks, not that it's deeply original, but by its simplicity, heaviness and the personnality of the band, I think this really deserves a particular attention.
When I first heard the name HELMUT, I immediately thought about the great old (average) german tourist standing on a beach, his skin completely redenned by the sun, a big stomach and a beer in hand, wearing sandals but still with socks... Their old President Helmut Kohl was far away from that image (officially at least) but believe me, in the 80's and 90's this was not a pastiche at all !!!! all that to say that it sounds amazing and this is exactly what the guys had in mind when looking for a band's name !!!
HELMUT has a cool and developped sense of humor (just think about title songs like "Divine Kebab", "Chouchenn"  or "the legend of Glen Baden") which combined to their style of music give a pretty relaxed atmosphere here and this is welcome, even if musically we've got here something very serious and extremely heavy... Another funny and interesting idea is the title of the album : this is the date of its release (on HeimatHome records) !!!
They claim as main influences ZZ TOP and VAN HALEN but admit readily more realistic ones like MASTODON, DOWN or DEVIN TOWNSEND, to whom we could also add Q.O.S.T.A. for some quieter and smoother moments... Definitely, we've got here a great blend of Stoner/Metal/HC with nice southern bluesy overtones.
This is very cohesive, in a straight, immediate and intense manner, with groovy guitars and raw screamed vocals, songs like "divine Kebab" and "the Colson blues" perfectly illustrate this solid identity reinforced by a very tight musicianship; the 2nd has a delightful southern bluesy touch with the best solos of the album (there's globally a real performance on that point, never too long but very incisive and accomplished), another very cool song is "doomkopf" (nothing hasardous... ? "kopf" means "head" in german) with this excellent sabbathian riffing.
Switzerland is a small country, reknown for its banks, chocolate, exceptionnal natural sites and relaxed lifestyle, not really for Metal but that doesn't prevent them at all to reveal great bands like JUNE DEVILLE or HELMUT which have in common quality and authenticity for the greatest pleasure of HEAVY music fans...

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