What a fantastic year of music we are having! I was excited about the return of Lord Helmet after their great debut in 2019, and these guys really delivered in spades. Their new album is called Get Back to the Ship, and it released on June 18th.
Lord Helmet resides in Los Angeles, CA. The band is a duo made up of Adam Figura on drums and David Tomkins on everything else. You may remember Adam from the band Sloth, whose album Dead Generation was recently in my top 100 albums of the 00s list. David you may know from The Shadow Principle. Both are seasoned in the ways of alternative rock/metal.
Get Back to the Ship is something a little more than just alternative rock, though. This album is chaotic at times, heavy and direct at others; and there is a district cosmic aura to all of it. There is a sense that this is what it would sound like if David Bowie had been part of the post-grunge era. And that intrigues me, especially with all the wild drumming and percussion, eerie soundscapes, and shadowy vocals.
When I heard Lord Helmet’s debut, I wasn’t immediately a fan. Well, I liked the sound, but I wasn’t entirely sold. As I listened more, I could hear the band experimenting and thinking outside the proverbial box, and I think this sophomore release has even more of those things. Actually, way more. There are some truly haunting, marching, surreal songs on this album, parts that remind me of A Perfect Circle, only a bit darker. I think part of it is the guitar work—David does a fantastic job with high-strung guitars that honestly remind me a bit of early Incubus in how they fade and echo and reel in such a pleasing fashion. And, yet, this album would be nothing without Adam’s frenzied, pounding drums that put such meat on the music’s bones. I should mention, too, that David’s bass guitar is absolutely stunning, and definitely adds a layer of style and groove to an already great sound.
Yet, even with all those interesting elements, the album succeeds primarily because the writing is solid. The choruses are catchy and there are addictive rhythms to be found all over the place. It feels like each and every song has something memorable, from beguiling tunes to abstract brilliance.
The album has eight tracks and is 42 minutes long. I love every song here, but my favorites are “Phased Out”, “You Will Be Gone”, “Real to Me”, and “The Setting Sun”. “Phased Out” is one of the singles, and it opens the album with distortion and catchy vocals. “You Will Be Gone” is a bit more abstract, based around a grooving percussive tone and spacey guitars. It is a dreamlike piece, for sure.
The last two songs on the album are probably my favorites. “Real to Me” is a heavier track with loads of guitars and hefty drums. It feels raw and wild, and I love that. “The Setting Sun” is the 9-minute closer. It is funky, quirky, and contains loads of stylized percussive segments. The song transitions between ambient, ethereal segments and heavy instrumental portions, and the last few minutes are especially memorable with a fantastic rhythm that will stick with you.
Lord Helmet are slowly but surely unleashing themselves for us. I think the band was aiming for the alternative rock crowd, but this sophomore album suggests that they want to explore other ideas, too. I love the energy, the deep-seated humor, and the band’s penchant for heavy, controlled chaos. Get to the Ship is a really attractive album; one that I know will keep my occupied for some time.
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