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HELMS ALEE

Helms Alee

Keep This Be The Way

    Keep This Be the Way is Helms Alee’s sixth full-length and first new album in over 3 years. Across the span of their first five studio albums, Seattle trio Helms Alee have consistently refined their signature sound—a blend of lilting siren songs, crushing thunder and sludge, and heady guitar pop filled with lush guitars and elaborate three-part vocal harmonies that reach widely across various subgenres of the heavy music world. On their latest album, Keep This Be the Way, the band expanded their palette by delving into the production possibilities afforded by recording the album themselves, creating their most dynamic and technicoloured work to date.

    Guitarist/vocalist Ben Verellen, bassist/vocalist Dana James, and drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis found refuge during the pandemic in their music and bunkered down in a makeshift studio in Verellen’s amplifier shop, recording songs with the assistance of Ron Harrell as they were writing them, composing the material with the added benefit of hearing them come together from the engineer’s chair. Keep This Be the Way still very much sounds like a Helms Alee record, but it’s their first album that diverts from the faithful recreation of their live sound and delves into a vibrant tapestry of surreal sounds and invented spaces.

    This new approach is immediately evident on first single “See Sights Smell Smells,” where reverse cymbal crashes, fragmented piano, layered drums, woozy drones, saxophone freak-outs, and trippy vocal treatments transport the listener to an altered state of exhilarated anticipation. The pendulum swings towards more adventurous and exploratory sounds on songs like “Tripping Up the Stairs”, it’s nightmarish synth glides pitted against distorted barrages steeped in classic Helms Alee timbre. And therein lies the power of the Keep Us Be the Way: it reflects a period of change, ambiguity and perseverance through its fearless curiosity, cathartic rumble, and sublime beauty.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. See Sights Smell Smells
    2. Keep This Be The Way
    3. How Party Do You Hard?
    4. Tripping Up The Stairs
    5. Big Louise
    6. Do Not Expose To The Burning Sun
    7. The Middle Half 8. Mouth Thinker
    9. Three Cheeks To The Wind
    10. Guts For Brains 

    Helms Alee

    Noctiluca

      After more than a decade of existence, five studio albums, and a slew of EPs, it’s easy to imagine Helms Alee continuing on in perpetuity as one of those tightly-guarded artists with an extensive catalog of treasures just waiting for the uninitiated to discover the depths of their riches. But things are going to change with the release of their fifth album, Noctiluca; the album continues Helms Alee’s tradition of blending girthy sludge riffs, deceptively clever compositions, lush instrumentation, and transcendental melodies into a potent standalone sound and proves why the band has rightfully stuck around all these years.

      Starting with album opener “Interachnid,” Helms Alee displays their multifaceted approach with Hozoji Matheson-Margullis's eight-armed drum patterns underpinning thunderous walls of fuzz distortion provided by bassist Dana James and guitarist Ben Verellen, with Verellen’s barrel-chested roar serving as a counterpoint to the siren song vocals provided by Mathenson-Margullis and James. The balance between knuckle-dragging force and transcendent beauty fluctuates throughout the record, with songs like “Beat Up” operating on single-minded aggression, while songs like “Pandemic” completely eschew the heavy-handed approach in favor of blissed out dream pop. “Spider Jar” still sounds like the more subdued side of Helms Alee in many ways—jangling Jazzmaster guitars and tom-heavy drum patterns set against soaring vocals—but never before has the band sounded so authoritative with such straightforward arrangements.

      Inspired by the bioluminescent marine algae of the same name, Noctiluca pays tribute to the oceanic themes that has pervaded Helms Alee's music. The marine reference is perhaps the closest approximation to their sound: mysterious, magical, and providing light in the darkness. Helms Alee have always been able to jump between the sublime and the savage, but with the aid of producer/engineer Sam Bell (Minus the Bear, R.E.M., The Cars), the band pushes their various methods to new extremes on Noctiluca. 

      TRACK LISTING

      1 Interachnid
      2 Beat Up
      3 Play Dead
      4 Be Rad Tomorrow
      5 Lay Waste, Child
      6 Illegal Guardian
      7 Spider Jar
      8 Pleasure Torture
      9 Pandemic
      10 Word Problem


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