With a wealth of metal bands jumping on the djent train, I, Of Helix are walking a different path. Their debut album 'Isolation' proves that you don't need to rip off Tosin Abasi to be cutting edge. Like when a book finds you at an appropriately meaningful time in your life, this album has got me good.
I discovered IOH by youtube stumbling onto 'XXIX', the fourth track from the album, and at first thought I was going to hear nothing but well polished post-rock. With graceful swells, genesis snares and gorgeous singing, I knew I was onto some good shit. AND THEN, team growls bust open the door, subs and riffs engage, and vocalist Nate Mead calls the men to arms right before the skirmish initiates. The chugs seamlessly interchange with leading riffs, and like all their tracks the arrangements are intricate and consistently engaging. This track also features Dayseeker frontman Rory Rodriguez, who manages to slip a couple of R+B licks into the anthemic vocal passage. The line that breaks-down into this section 'We came from separate sides of the ocean in search of strength' examples the stunning imagery that this band can conjure. I recommend checking out the video and observing the great war wound that guitarist Isaiah Pritchard sustains and wears proudly.
Once I got round to listening to the whole album, I was greatly satisfied by the fact that 'XXIX' wasn't just a one off. Each moment stands out whilst fitting neatly together to create a perfect record. The chilled out sections are strong and proud, which alongside the technical brutality feels less like break time and more like the moment when a herald triumphantly plants his banner. In contrast, the heavy sections mow down the enemy troops with strategic ingenuity. No man is left behind with plenty of finely layered moments; call response beat downs, epic drum fills and growling bass drops. Each element is allowed to breathe and shine, reinforcing the overall strength of the music with united proficiency. They also utilise electronic processing with a slick use of glitches that manage not to make you feel like a DJ just barfed over your favourite genre. This use of texture shows how the band write for the sake of creating complete music, rather than writing for the glamour of rocking out with your cock out.
The broad sonic palette of the music greatly compliments the lyrical content that discuss's personal development, using the prosody of isolation as a framework. As track two 'Lullaby' acknowledges the personal chasm of loneliness, the record picks up thematic momentum and carries on to be brutally honest about 'the line between placing blame and procrastination'. This resolves in album closer 'Witness the Son Rise', which provides an all guns blazing sense of hope. This punch in the emotional gut forces you to examine your own behaviour and become more proactive. When an artist challenges your ideals, you know that you're onto a winner. The Californian bruisers continuously display mature writing ability, alongside a wealth of musical integrity. The album sustains an inspiring level of grandeur, and I cannot wait for I, Of Helix to visit the UK.