Sometimes one comes across music that absolutely crushes everything in its path. Any resistance to overpower such a record is purely futile. Debt is just that. The catapulting riffs, the chuggy bass lines, and and pounding drum beats are bound to leave you Helpless. With their debut record, Debt, the UK based trio unleash a savage mix of metal and hardcore that is bound to leave the unsuspecting listener in a state of pure despair.
Helpless clearly do not believe in beating round the bush, and waste no time getting things moving; they are on an absolute rampage through and through. By keeping the tracks to a short one-two minute span, they feed Debt down the listener’s throat in the brief span of 21 minutes and 40 seconds. But in this short amount of time they show enough musical proficiency to amaze any attentive listener. The band harbors in their sound a variety of influences, right from the math-metal riffs akin to Dillinger Escape Plan, to the flat-out noisey brutality of Norma Jean.
There is pure evilness on Debt, and it is spread from the first beat of album opener “Worth”. It’s not just plain old nastiness served in an abrasive dish, however; there is a subtle nuance and detailing that gives the band an edge over their peers. This is best exemplified in the amazing interplay between the ever-present bass riffs of Steve Waldron and the rhythmic beats from drummer Russell Cleave. “Out of Commission” showcases this interaction brilliantly, as the track breaks pace midway to a nice flowing rhythm that captivates the listener. The track moves in multitudes of direction without ever becoming lost.
The real strength of the record lies in the smallest tracks though, which in a span of a minute deliver a punch that will knock most people out for the rest of the hour. “Grief Vultures” takes a very direct approach, and showcases Helpless at their most raw and primitive form. The combined sonic attack of the trio allows the listener to step back and behold the savagery in front of their eyes. Fans of Converge are bound to play this one on repeat multiple times. On the other hand, “Sinkhole” manages to build up a more layered path to chaos in its 60 second time-frame. The manner in which in which the first half of guitar noise driven instrumentation builds up to the pure grind mania of the latter half is bound to leave any fan of such music grinning.
To add to this, the two longer tracks, “Weightless Prayers” and “Manufactured Consent”, take a slightly slower approach, which not only brings in a break to the unrelenting assault, but also opens the door to a more sludgier sound and is reminiscent of legends like the Melvins and Eyehategod. The album ends on a relative breather, as “Denied Sale” brings in elements of a more classic death doom record. The track, clocking in at just under five minutes, takes up nearly a quarter of the playtime of the record. It’s a drone driven harmony and is the perfectly oxymoronic way to end the record.
If one had to actually go nitpicking at the flaws on the record, the only one worth mentioning would be the fleeting moments on the tracks when the more drone oriented sound takes the front seat and hampers the overall impact of the surrounding sonic assault. “Sertraline” is one such track, in which the track settles into a drone and the more frenetic second half fails to really build upon the intended chaos. Nevertheless, Helpless have sent out a very clear signal with Debt. They are a band to watch out for. They are an unforgiving and undiluted source of pure sonic violence.
Notable Tracks: “Out of Commission”; “Sinkhole”; “Denied Sale”
FFO: Converge, Nails, Melvins