If you’ve yet to discover Helpless then you’ll be pleased to know that they feature ex-Brotherhood of the Lake guitarist Russell Cleave (but this time around he’s on drum duty) and they’re about the closest thing to the depraved, metallic hardcore madness of that band that you can find in 2017. With their debut album Debt we are treated to a metallic hardcore record that takes elements from grindcore and black metal to create something akin to Throats, but with a frequent marriage of atonal, high-pitched guitar work and low-end, crunchy riffs.
Debt clocks in at 22 minutes and sounds like the sort of thing you’d expect to soundtrack a serious psychotic breakdown. This is not a subtle record and it frequently assaults you with fast-paced, abrasive tracks full of blast beats and tremolo-picking and then slightly slower, crushing moments of doomy hardcore. Add a vocal performance that sounds like the agonised screams from hell and you’ve basically explained everything you can expect to hear on this record. This is not music for the faint of heart.
Thank God Helpless have seen fit to make this a short record because if it was any longer it would probably be a serious threat to your health. Tracks like opener Worth, Grief Vultures and Sertaline are uncompromising attacks of relentless speed, crusty riffs and devastatingly thrashy drums. When the tempo changes to something not so punishingly fast, Helpless up the oppressive and gloomy atmosphere of their music by using the aforementioned atonal, higher-pitched guitar work. This manifests itself on tracks like Out of Commission, Moral Bankruptcy and Manufactured Consent and they often pair these atonal guitar passages with monolithic, low-end riffs to make their impact that little bit more powerful, and my God does it work.
Helpless’ Debt is an extremely dense and unrelenting record that makes no apologies for being ridiculously heavy. Helpless use some extremely creative guitar work to create a dark and isolated atmosphere to make an absolute racket in. It may not be the most nuanced long-player you’ll hear, but it certainly delivers one of the most powerful and devastating heavy music experiences of 2017. Lord knows Helpless have a serious task ahead of them if they want to best this record with their next release.
Helpless’ Debt is out now and available to buy on vinyl and CD from Holy Roar Records.