Helms Alee is a Seattle three-piece formed by Ben Verellen (Harkonen, Roy, These Arms Are Snakes) and is completed by Dana James and Hozoji Margullis. The band combines heavy rock with melodic arrangements and seems to have an ear for excellent composing.
All members of the band exchange lead vocals duties and occasionally teams up for harmonies. After having released their self-titled and one-sided debut LP on small labels, their full-length debut Night Terror was released on HydraHead in August 2008.
Quote: [ Alternative Press ] - This Seattle-based trio fronted by Ben Verellen, formerly of sludgy rumblers Harkonen, can get heavy when they feel like it, but just as often, if not more so, they drift into more psychedelic, shoegazey spaces. Verellen is supported by bassist Dana James and drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis, each of whom also sing.
In fact, the two women sing more than he does, and not just because he mostly barks and roars. James’ voice has a cool detachment that recalls Kim Gordon’s vocals on Sonic Youth’s “Shadow Of A Doubt,” and the women’s sometimes woozy, sometimes edgy harmonies are crucial to the band’s expansive, dreamy sound. When James and Verellen harmonize, on the other hand, it can be like the second coming of John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X.
Ultimately, Weatherhead (the second Helms Alee full-length, following 2008’s Night Terror) sits comfortably somewhere in the neighborhood of Kylesa, Totimoshi, recent Melvins and even (maybe most of all) Baroness. There are riffs and vocal melodies on this album that could have been cribbed straight from Blue Record. This is one of the best heavy alternative rock albums of the year, combining ’90s throb with ’70s stoner riffs and thick coatings of fuzz, swirling it all into something that’s recognizably of a specific subgenre (see the work of all the bands cited above) and yet unique and heartfelt. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...
In order to excel in the independent music industry, an act has to define itself as especially unique with a sound quite unlike anything else in the community. This is a tall order, one that isn’t easily filled by acts entering variations of rock music due to the immense amount of bands flooding the scene right now. Palehorse/Palerider, a “doomgaze” trio from Denver, has released an EP entitled ‘Burial Songs’ that does a surprisingly superb job at separating itself from the pack. Let’s delve into it.
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