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Trying to write a review for this album has been such a headache that I'm still not sure where I stand. After my initial listen, I surmised that it generally sucked, but had a few decent and endearing elements. Then the album grew on me, with little moments and the occasional riff gluing itself to the forefront of my thoughts, thus forcing me to give the album another go. The more I spun this thing, the more I found myself enjoying certain characteristics, yet other qualities of the album began to induce annoyance. My initial draft concerning this review started looking like the thoughts of a stranger, as there was little left that reflected my current impression of HELLMET. And this is within the trajectory of three weeks of listening time. Six months from now for all I know I could be hailing this album as the ultimate expression of the free world in musical form, or declaring it the album that sowed the seed for the death of not just metal, but the entire rock & roll umbrella. Chances are, my opinion will be neither, but I'm guessing it will be different than what I'm submitting here.
As for my inaugural experience, endowed with a glorious album title and the presence of power metal act Aldious' equally glorious bassist Sawa, my expectations were high when I popped this in. Grievously, my prior enthusiasm soon soured after trudging through this release, and I'm not exactly shocked that Sawa would leave the band after this to focus entirely on Aldious. It's absolutely not the worst thing I've ever heard, and there were some redeeming factors, but it wasn't something I expected to blast in my car again anytime soon.
After a pitiful low budget instrumental keyboard intro, "Treason Sky" brings the band into play, an upbeat mid-tempo number that's a pretty decent overview of the group's chops. To put it bluntly, they're a bit choppy. Little time is wasted before the first guitar solo erupts with an earnest display that rambles between pedestrian yet passable licks and occasional wonky bits in which I'm not quite sure if the bizarre patterns were deliberate avant garde moments or a sequence of bum notes. The rhythms are pretty straightforward, combining melodic heavy metal with a brutish Motorhead overhaul, and I can dig that. The drums have an organic, thuddish sound and Idyako does what she can to add variety to the time signature she's saddled with, and the bassist rarely gets adventurous, which is a bit of a shame since Sawa can friggin' play. HELLMET is a waste of her talents.
Then there's Mikki. Mikki growls. Mikki's always growling away. She likes to growl loudly in the mix. Her growls pinball between a coked up Angela Gossow and a screaming hyena, but with an irritating metalcore slant to her delivery of mostly English but barely decipherable lyrics. Cutesy clean vox tossed in during "Treason Sky" and the final track (which sounds like an opening theme for some 'moe anime') add a bit of variety even if they sound goofy. The real problem I have with Mikki's vocals isn't the growling and "core-ish" posturing itself, but my own sense that they just don't gel with the style comprising many of these tunes. The weirdness is akin to Ross Dolan performing the lead role in Jesus Christ Superstar.
That being said, "Ɐnother/Mind" is one stone killer gem of a track. I'm almost shocked that this song didn't immediately click with me, as the impressions written in my first draft seemed to shrug it off after the admittedly energetic opening riff. Fuck that, the whole song cooks and Mikki's vocals are a bit more inhuman and mesh perfectly with this motherfucker. Everything works, and if the rest of the tracks possessed this level of conviction, power and sheer fun there would be no pendulum swinging opinion concerning this album's worth.
The two following cuts continue with a mid-paced dirty metal momentum, but Mikki howling and wailing over decent but not inspiring riff-age with some simple guitar melodies sprinkled about becomes an off-putting endeavor to the point where I just want her to stop, go and get a glass of water, and let the fucking rest of the women play their instruments. I do understand that she's one of the primary gimmicks and the distinct feature of the band's sound, but some of these songs literally need some sort of melody derived snarly vocals or a guest appearance by Lemmy. Sixth track "Fangs of slaves" finally arrives to speed things up to a faster speed metal rhythm, but by then, during my initiation to the album, I really just wanted to listen to an Aldious record. Now, I find "Fangs of slaves" to be one of the more entertaining tracks, but not at the level of "Ɐnother/Mind".
The epilogue "song" is most likely tacked on as an afterthought since it sounds in no way like the rest of the tunes, retaining a cute clean and shrill as all hell vocal throughout its short duration. An odd way to end the album, but I suppose it fits in well with the corny prologue. Maybe HELLMET is a concept album and I just don't get it.
Judging by the album cover and the costumes of the participants involved, I still find it hard to believe that this wound up being such an enigmatic release concerning my ever-changing reaction to it, but as it is, I haven't heard a lot of bands like this. The raw production and old-school heavy metal flavor punctuated with delirious feminine growling deserves a bit of respect for it's genre experimentation. There's also the cute presentation of the band with their doll-ish attire and cheerful stage presence to add to that paradoxical vibe, and that's the sort of shameless self-promoting selling point that doesn't bother me in the least. Love that stuff. On the musical side of things, as it now stands I'm practically obsessed with one track, and a couple of others are decent enough. Mikki's delivery drives me up the wall on more than a few occasions though, and if she either toned down the metalcore attitude to a somewhat cleaner but still angry tone, or went the other direction to complete unbridled lunacy, then Galmet would be one of those bands I'd fly to Japan just to see live. Hopefully their new album heads towards one of those routes, or at least has more cuts similar to "Ɐnother/Mind". That could keep me scratching my head in wonder rather than finally closing out my interest in them.
What is better than girls playing metal? Wow, these women play melodic death metal very well, growling like beasts and playing really fast. This is the first album I listened to by them and it is fucking good. The speed of the guitars along with the drums and amazing vocals makes this album very easy to enjoy. The quality of the girls to make music is really high as the guitar riffs will blow your mind. I do not understand what they are saying, but I'm certain the lyrics are brutal.
The album begins with a piano intro with a very good melody, then second song, Treason Sky, starts with an awesome battery and the guitar solos are perfect. This song can be very aggressive, but is very melodic at the same time. The vocals alternate between clean singing and death metal vocals. When you hear the first song you will have an idea how the rest of the album sounds. Since most of the songs are the same on this album, it doesn't mean its bad because you will enjoy this no matter what. The good thing about this album is that I find the songs have sufficient duration (about three or four minutes) and hearing the same sound in a song would become monotonous. All the instruments are well-played and even the vocals are well done.
To put it simply, we have a great debut from a great band of Japanese girls who still have much to give to the world of metal. If you like melodic death metal, you cannot miss this opportunity to have this album. Strongly recommended.
Highlights: パラサイト & Fangs of Slaves.